Sunday, June 22, 2008

New Jersey and Sonny

Well, it's that time of year again when I begin to prepare for my trip back east.  I go every year to see all my friends and family that I left there after moving to Scottsdale some four and a half years ago.  I always look forward to this trip with great anticipation, but this year, I'm extra eager. 


I've secretly been working on a little project and, as is often the very nature of secrets, no one knows about it.  So, they can't possibly know about the surprise I have in store.  I will announce to everyone that I have written a book.  A book which will soon be available on-line: The Ones That Got Away – A Dating Memoir. 


They will be shocked.  They'll be surprised.  Hopefully, they'll be thrilled.  Many of them have been immortalized in this book.  Many of them are responsible, in some ways, for this book's very existence.  You see, often when we're together, we can't help but go down memory lane, reminiscing about this and that, or perhaps more accurately, about this one and that one.  I am often called upon to "tell the one about…"  I'm actually the only one who's single, so I'm still amassing boy stories.     


As my trip nears, I can't help but think about two things:


1.      How is it I booked another redeye?

2.      Sonny. 


First the redeye.  That flight is just brutal.  Each year, after landing in Newark at 6:30 something in the morning, without having had a wink of sleep, I disembark the aircraft declaring, "This is the last time I am ever taking that flight."  And yet, when the year rolls around again, the practicality of the redeye won't escape me and so, I book it.  I guess this behavior is similar to a woman who, after childbirth, says, "Never again."  But as time goes on, the memory of the misery fades and, before you know it, we're each doing what we vowed we wouldn't.  My flight departs at 10:35 p.m.


And now, Sonny.  I met Sonny last year at Sky Harbor International Airport.  Noticing him at my gate, I couldn't help but do a double-take.  Was that the guy who just took my luggage?  How did he get out of his uniform so fast?  Did he just get off work?  Is he getting on this flight?  What's the deal?  Well, with these types of questions going through my mind, can you imagine what my facial expression must have looked like?  I'm guessing it was a subtle cross between confusion and constipation. 


He approached me.  "Are you okay?  Do you need something?"  I snapped out of my pensive trance and asked, "Are you the skycap who just took my luggage?"  He wasn't. 


Would you believe this guy ended up sitting just one row behind me?  I was in 7D and he was in 8C.  What this meant was, I constantly saw him out of the corner of my eye – while he was actually in his seat, that is.  He moved throughout the whole flight (no wonder I didn't sleep), switching seats with the two elderly people in his row – parents? Maybe. 


Why it takes 40 minutes to get your bags at 6:30 in the morning I'll never know, but it does.  This gave Sonny an opportunity to chat with me at the luggage carousel.  The elderly couple was, in fact, his parents.  I sometimes travel with my folks, so I can't say I thought there was anything particularly strange about it.  He explained to me that he and his folks lived in New Jersey, but his parents had a house in Scottsdale also, so he went back and forth a lot.  Next he asked me if I was in Jersey for a visit or returning home.  "Visit," I told him, and went on to explain how I had moved from New Jersey to Arizona. 


This sort of blew him away.  He was stunned and couldn't get over the coincidence.  "What are the odds of us meeting like this?" he asked me.  "Don't you think it's weird, two people, both from New Jersey, meeting on a flight from Phoenix – what are the odds?"  Well, since we both left Scottsdale and were going to New Jersey, I said, "Pretty good, I'd think."  I don't know why he was so awestruck.  It's not as if we met in Kuala Lumpur.  I mean if we had, well then, yeah, I'd say it was quite the coincidence, but we did not meet in Malaysia, we met in Newark. 


My bag finally appeared.  I grabbed it, and after nodding a quick good-bye, I headed off in the direction of the AirTrain.  I wasn't even aware that someone was saying, "Excuse me… excuse me," until I was tapped on my shoulder.  Somewhat startled, I turned around to see Sonny's smiling face.  He wanted to know if we could meet for a drink, or something, when he was back in Scottsdale. 


Ya gotta give the guy credit.  It has to be hard to approach a woman like that, not knowing if you'll get shot down or not.  I really wasn't sure how to respond.  He seemed pleasant enough, although he spoke like a goombah.  I don't know if that's spelled correctly, and I'm sure it would be considered incorrect, politically speaking, that is, in certain circles.  Here's the deal: He's a north Jersey Italian guy.  Got it?  Goombah.  By the way, I don't know what it is with me and Italian men (if you read my book, you'll see what I'm talking about).  They're drawn to me, for some reason, like moths to the flame.


Anyway, given his bravado, I did not shoot him down.  We exchanged numbers and tentative plans were made to meet for drinks when he and I were both back in Scottsdale.  I think organizing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization must have been easier than arranging dates with this guy.


He said he'd call in two weeks, when he got back into town.  Three weeks passed.  When the call did come in, he said we needed to postpone our get-together.  It seemed that his mom and dad needed the car.  Okay, he was apparently traveling with the parents again.  Next visit then.


After a few weeks, I got another call.  Would I like to meet for a glass of wine?  Sure, why not?  He had to check to see if he could get the car.  The car?  Again?  He wanted to know how I felt about his father driving us.  I couldn't believe it. (Could you?)  "How about I just meet you there?" I asked.  Well, he apparently managed to finagle the keys away from dear ol' dad because, thankfully, he showed up alone. 


As if you couldn't surmise, he and his parents were quite close.  And in spite of the fact that he was 45 years old, he still lived with them.  As in, lived with them for all his 45 years – never once was he out on his own.  Knee-deep into my 40s and still single, this is now what I attract.  We wrapped up our evening early (had to get the car back, I guess) which was fine with me.


He'd call each time he was back in Scottsdale and ask me out, but the plans always got mucked up somehow.  If it wasn't the car issue or his mom making a family dinner, it would have to do with 'business.'  Business?  He didn't even technically work – and whatever he did do, he didn't do here.  Supposedly he assisted his brother in some sort of marketing aspect for a club they ran back in the city.  I really didn't have any idea what the hell he was ever talking about.


Could you imagine being 45, still living with your parents and not really working?  UGH!  He liked the Scottsdale singles-bar scene (research, I suppose) and stayed out until the wee hours, not rising the next day until 4:00 in the afternoon.  Call me a nerd, but unless you work the graveyard shift, are a college-aged student or… a vampire, you shouldn't be just beginning your day at 4:00 p.m.


So, after getting another I-have-to-cancel-due-to-a-business-thing call one day, I told him to lose my number.  "Why?" he wanted to know.  I told him that it just wasn't worth the effort.  Then I said that it was nice to have met him, and I'd see him 'round the airports.  He called me six times over the next 45 minutes, leaving me the most ridiculous messages.  I really get the winners, let me tell you.  But as someone once said to me, at least I get 'em! 


So you can see why, as I plan for my trip east, I find myself thinking of this guy.  Do you think I'll see him on the flight?  Don't dismiss it.  If you read my book, you'd know what kind of luck I've had, and you'd be asking the same question.  Let me just say this, if I do see him… "Heaven help me." 


- M