I was 28 or 29, still single, and I think all of my family had given up any expectation of me ever getting married. Everyone, except perhaps my grandmother, Gladys. She called me up one day and told me that a granddaughter of one of her friends in Elwood had just moved down to Knoxville. I was living in Clinton at the time, about fifteen minutes from Knoxville. Grandma said the granddaughter was all alone and could use a ride back up to Indiana for an upcoming holiday weekend. I can’t remember the holiday. Maybe Easter? Anyway, basically being a good grandson, I promised to call up the girl and offer her a ride. I don’t really remember if I had previously planned to go back up to Indiana that weekend or not.
I think it was already Friday, so I started calling when I got home. The line was busy. So, I sat there pushing my redial button every few minutes for the next hour or so. Who was she talking to, I wondered? Finally, very frustrated, the phone began ringing. However, instead of someone answering the phone, I got to talk to an answering machine. What? This surprised me. So, I said something like “My Grandma said you would like a ride to Indiana this weekend?” and told her to call me back so we could make arrangements. I knew she was probably listening to me since she had just gotten off of the phone.
She never returned my call. I remember talking to my Grandmother later and she said, “she lost your number”. “Grandma, I left my number on her answering machine”, I said. “I don’t think she wants to talk to me.” That would have been the end of it, but a few weeks later my Grandmother got remarried and called to tell me that she would stop by and visit on their way to Florida for their Honeymoon.
First thing Grandma said when they stopped by was that she wanted to call up this girl and meet her. I was skeptical, and repeated my story of leaving my number on her machine. Grandma was hearing nothing of it. So, we arranged to meet the girl at a McDonalds that she knew the location of. As we drove there I asked what the girl we were meeting looked like. I was surprised to find out that Grandma didn’t know what the girl looked like. “You mean you’ve never met her?”. I had assumed they had met before up in Elwood.
I hadn’t shaved and wasn’t trying to make an impression or anything, since I didn’t think the girl was even going to show up. I remember my first impression of her was that she was independent and confident. Her name was Diane. Diane told us that she had moved to Knoxville to get a teaching job. She had a degree in teaching from Ball State. We all went for a little drive touring Knoxville in Diane’s car and I noticed that the interior of the car was ripped and shredded. Diane said that her dog was nervous on the trip down from Indiana. From the looks of it, I assumed she must have a wolf hound or something.
After my Grandma continued on her way, I called up Diane. This time she answered the phone and we began dating. I remember that first time I came to her apartment, I was scared to meet her wolf hound. She opened the door and a cute little dog greeted me with his tail wagging. First thing I said was, “This is the dog that destroyed your car?”. I think I fell in love with her dog, Benji, even before I fell in love with her.