A Happily-Ever-After (Almost-Never-Was) Story

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Last night, I met up with an old college friend for drinks at the swank bar of the St. Regis Hotel. (To set the scene: Everything you sit on or rest a drink on is made from dark wood and dark leather; silver cups of mixed nuts abound; and at least one cocktail on the menu cost $29.) My dear chum--let's call her Mrs. Leopard--was in town on business. Though she used to be a New Yorker herself, she now lives down south with her adorable husband and their 2-year-old girl. I was asking how her dude was; and we got to reminiscing about how they met; and it's such a great story that I figured I should tell you guys about it.

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It all starts at Mrs. Leopard's five-year college reunion*. She and some of her buddies were hanging out in the "reunion tent" (do all colleges put these up?) when she got into a long conversation with someone who used to live in her dorm--who'd gone on to make it fairly big in Hollywood, as a director. Eventually, he excused himself, mumbling something about a fiancee ... and when she looked around for her clique, she realized they'd disappeared. So, it seemed, had almost everybody else. Looking at her watch, she realized how late it had gotten. Time for bed! she thought. And she was about to go home when she spotted a cute guy near the keg. One thing led to another; they started talking ... and they ended up staying out till dawn together.

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The next morning, Sunday, she had to take off early to catch her flight back home. As she said good-bye to the dude, they both expressed interest in hanging out again, despite the fact that she was living on the East Coast at the time and he was living in Detroit, working as an engineer one of the big car companies.

They exchanged some friendly emails ... but Mr. Detroit didn't take the lead on trying to arrange a visit. Now, Mrs. Leopard grew up in Texas, and though she has all the charm, manners and elegance of a former debutante, she's also a bit of a maverick who has a no-nonsense attitude when it comes to accomplishing whatever goal she has set for herself. So what did she do? She emailed Mr. Detroit, inviting him to come spend a weekend with her.

A day went by with no response. A few days. A week.

The agony!

She called me up for a consultation.

Let me stop here and say that while Mrs. Leopard is remarkably pretty, wonderfully kind, incredibly stylish, quite skinny, loyal, responsible, well-educated, smart and just the right amount sassy--that she is, in short, quite a catch--well, despite all this, Mrs. Leopard, like all of us, had had her fair share of dating woes. She'd had one terrible relationship with a screwed-up guy who treated her poorly; she'd had crushes on more than one guy who, inexplicably, did not fall madly in love with her; she'd kissed a few frogs. She was worried that she might never hear from Mr. Detroit again--because maybe she hadn't played her cards right by taking the initiative to step things up a notch. Or maybe, even more distressingly, he just wasn't that into her!

But ... as it turned out, I knew Mr. Detroit fairly well, even though Mrs. Leopard had never met him while they were on campus together. And even though it would never have occurred to me in a million years to set them up: Mr. Detroit was in an alternative band and wore a leather motorcycle jacket all the time, after all, while Mrs. Leopard was in a sorority and wore grosgrain belts and dated frat guys.

"Do you think he's blowing me off?" Mrs. Leopard asked.

I considered the question carefully. On the face of it, it would seem, indeed, that he was. And if he were any other guy, I would not be able to conclude otherwise. But, as I said to her, "Mr. Detroit is one of the sweetest, most considerate guys I know. I can't imagine that he wouldn't write back and at least say something. ... You know what my best guess is? He never got the email."

So Mrs. Leopard followed up ... and as it turned out, he never HAD received her message. The rest of the story goes like this: happily ever after. There aren't too many couples who are still--seven years later!--as adorably in love as the Leopards.

To re-cap: There were three big near-misses in their story: they never met during the four years they were at small college together, despite the fact they had plenty of mutual friends; it was sheer luck that they happened to meet at the reunion; and the whole thing could have been blown, afterwards, because of the email snafu if it wasn't for ... me! (I'm blowing on my nails a little here, and polishing them off on my t-shirt, oh yes I am.) How lucky are they that I was in the picture? (Ha!)

As the lovely Mrs. Leopard and I were hugging good-bye tonight, she said, "Soon enough, you're going to have a near-miss that will turn into a hit yourself. I just know it. I don't worry about you at all."

That makes one of us!

xxx

*She's a year younger than I am, which is why I wasn't at the reunion with her.

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