Hello and good day!
We had an 87-year-old woman in our chocolate shop a few days back. She came in out of the rain.
I offered her a free hot chocolate. She accepted and retired to a bench in the corner to sit and sip. Her hair was damp and shiny with raindrops and the shirt cloth on top of her shoulders was wet.
Acoustic guitar eased out of a bluetooth speaker in the corner. The musician playing the tune plucked a soulful yearning melody. "I didn't know it was going to rain. I should have brought an umbrella," said the woman.
"We haven't had a good rain in a while. I see a lot of people out there getting wet," I said.
She sipped and closed her eyes, listening to the music. "What kind of music is this?" she asked.
"It's Peruvian Criollo music, the music you hear in restaurants and during lunch in Peru," I said. "Peru? I went to Peru with my husband many years ago. We traveled all over the world together," she said.
I nodded. She sipped "Do you live around here?" I asked. "I do now. Since my husband died a year ago," she said.
An aching guitar solo floated out. We heard the rain pounding on the sidewalk outside. The sky through our windows was thick with dark grey clouds.
"Where did you move from?" I asked. "Massachusetts. My oldest daughter and grandkids are here. We thought it made sense for me to be close now," she said.
She sipped. I waited. "How long were you married?" I asked. "66 years. A long time," she said. "How did you meet your husband?" I asked.
She smiled a soft, sad, smile and set her hot chocolate on the bench. "It was one of those dances we used to have when girls invited the boys. I had a crush on him for so long. He was the quarterback of the varsity football team that year. I was just a shy studious girl who nobody knew," she said.
"So, you found the courage?" I asked.
"I had to get myself all worked up. One afternoon, I went by his house and knocked on the door. He answered and he was wearing his letter jacket. He was just as handsome as could be," she said.
"Then what?" I asked. I felt like a little kid hearing this story.
"I asked him, and he said yes. We went to the dance, and I was so nervous. He was a big deal at school, and I was a nobody. But he was so sweet," she said.
"You had a good time?" I asked.
"Mostly. The only problem was that other girls kept cutting in. I was so timid that I let them. I stood on the sidelines watching. But he didn't touch any of them. He danced in his space, and they danced in theirs. When the songs were over, he came looking for me," she said.
"He liked you more?" I asked.
"Oh yes. And when slow songs came on, he put an arm around my back and pulled me in close. He held my hand out and I put my other hand on his shoulder, near where I could feel his neck. I leaned my head up against his chest. I was in heaven. He only danced like that with me," she said.
"66 years huh? How are you doing?" I asked.
"Not too good. But conversations like this help," she said. She told me the rest of her romantic story.
The rain fell. The guitar whined. I served her a second hot chocolate and then she braved it through the rain back out to her car.
Her story reminded me of two things that have been on my mind for years. First is the extremely mysterious nature of how two people fall in love. There are more than 8 billion people in the world. You'll see thousands upon thousands of human beings in your life. A fair percentage will be in the demographic of somebody you could theoretically fall for.
And yet, just a very few will hold true interest for you. Maybe only one. This is something I can speak of with firsthand knowledge because I fell hard for a girl when I was twenty years old.
One moment, I was alone in the world. There were pretty girls all over the place, everywhere I went, as there always are.
But it was her. I saw her and talked to her and held her and it was over. I was never alone again. It had to be her. I married my wife shortly thereafter and we've been together ever since.
And here is the second thing. There is something about dancing that reveals chemistry. I met my wife out dancing. We danced all night. I remember that she went to the bathroom, and another girl came over to dance with me. I danced, but there was nothing there.
No irresistible pull to touch her. No warm feelings in my stomach, no bubbling in my heart, no desire to throw everything else in my life away just to chase this one thing. Given how inexplicable romances can be sometimes, there must be something outside of our consciousness that we are unaware of.
Somehow two people fit together and when you know, you know. But how two people fit together, the why of it all, still seems inexplicable to me. On my last trip to Peru, I attended a wedding. After the ceremony and the meal, it turned into a wild dance party.
When my wife and I hit the floor, many of the Peruvian partygoers turned to watch us. I'm used to this by now. Peruvians are always curious to see the tall gringo dancing. What they don't know in advance is that I am a very good dancer. I always have been.
The people standing around watching us began to chant a common phrase you hear at dance parties in Peru, especially when the man is a good dancer, and he is really going for it.
"Ganale! Ganale!," they shouted. "Win her! Win her!" "Le esta ganando!" "He's winning her over!"
I don't believe I could have won her that first night if there wasn't already something there.
I hope that you have a good dancing partner.
Thank you so much for your time today.
I hope that you have a truly blessed day!
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