The title of this post. How cliché, right? My kitchen is swarming with fruit flies, and so I took my trash to the dumpster, running into a neighbor along the way. I remembered when I saw her that the neighborhood gossip (in a good way), Bob the Preacher Man, had told me Sheila has gotten engaged. Sheila lives one building down and has a dog named Izzy and a tiny little bob-tailed cat named Rabbit. Sheila has lived in these condos for as long as I have–10 years now. Which is by far the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere, but that’s another story.
After exchanging greetings, our conversation went like this:
“I heard a rumor about you.”
“You did?” she answered coyly.
“Let me see your hand.”
“I don’t have a ring, yet. But do you remember that conversation we had with Gretchen?”
Gretchen is married to Bob the Preacher Man. The conversation Sheila was referring to took place at a holiday party a couple of years back. Gretchen was giving us a pep talk about finding love later in life. She and Bob married when Gretchen was in her late 40s. Since I’m now 50, the conciliatory effect of the discussion has dimmed. But Sheila remembers.
“Gretchen told us, ‘It’s never too late.'”
Me, always one to shun social constructs, asked: “How old are you, Sheila?”
I was honestly stunned. First, because I didn’t realize Sheila is 62; and second, because who gets married for the first time at 62?
“OK, so maybe it’s still not too late for me, after all. But don’t you worry? Don’t you wonder how you’ll adjust? I don’t know about you, but I’m set in my ways, sister.”
Sheila, being a good sport despite the buzz kill I had delivered, admitted she was a bit concerned.
“The favorite part of my day is crawling into bed with a good book. Alone.”
“Well, for you to take the plunge means you’ve found a good man.”
I’d at last recovered the social graces.
“He is a good man. He’s kind, and intelligent, and sweet.”
“Everything we’ve been looking for all these years,” I replied.
“And he loves animals,” she said.
Now she had me.
“Does he have pets?”
“He has two cats. We will be a blended family.”
Holy shit. Sheila was going to be living with a man, along with his two cats. Two cats to be blended with Izzy and Rabbit. And I thought it was difficult bringing Sophie the stray into the fold with her two black-cat step sisters. Add a man to the mix, and I see some serious Brady Bunch moments ahead.
I then gave Sheila some advice on blending the children, based on my recent experience with Sophie. When I told her it took just over a year to get a photo of the three black cats in the same frame, she seemed relieved.
(Aside: Yes, it happened just a few days ago. The three black cats lounged in front of the television, watching Breaking Bad with me. The photo isn’t the greatest, but it wasn’t like they were going to sit around while I got the lighting right.)
As we parted, Sheila reminded me again, “It’s never too late.”
Since my bachelorette status is unconfirmed, I suppose that’s good to hear.