“Step One: Do Something You Like,” began the first chapter of Meeting People Made Easy. “Join a group with similar interests,” the book continued.
Marylou put the book down. At 33, she still hadn’t met “the one.” But when she considered her likes, they all seemed unlikely — a group for pasta eaters?
She was about to give up when she remembered singing in the Sunday school choir when she was seven. That could be a “similar interest.” She’d loved it. And, her church did have a choir. “I’ll do it!” she said out loud, and resolved that she really would do it.
And so it was that on the second night of choir rehearsal, at the 15-minute break, Marylou sat on the wide church steps wishing she could smoke. To distract herself, she admired the late-model silver sports car parked across the street behind her own eight-year-old sedan. It hadn’t been there when she’d parked an hour ago. She would have noticed.
So far, as her chosen “something you like” to meet “the one,” the choir was disappointing. All the baritones and tenors were married.
She noted that the sports car top was down. The seats were plump and leather-covered. She imagined the owner — lean and tall with dark hair and mischievous brown eyes. He’d hold the car door open for her and they’d exchange a smile as he leaned towards her to close the door. She imagined herself in the passenger seat, hair blowing in the breeze. They’d drive to dinner at that little French restaurant on the river. At the restaurant, he’d order for both of them and pronounce the entrees correctly. Perhaps, champagne, maybe a proposal.
She studied the license plate. It was out of state, a bit of a hitch but nothing that couldn’t be overcome. Perhaps the car owner had just happened to buy the car out of state, or maybe he’d just moved here. Checking the license number … 4ME172 … “For me,” she said, definitely a good sign. As she continued the fantasy, a man ran out of the drugstore. Marylou studied him as he looked up and down the street, crossed, and got into the car. “And so ends another dream,” she said as the car pulled away from the curb. Anyway, judging from what she’d seen of him, he wasn’t the sort who’d have mischievous brown eyes.
A matronly woman stuck her head out the church door. “Marylou? We’re all waiting for you.”
She sighed, put the book in her purse, stood, took another look up and down the street, and headed back into the church.
Half an hour later, the choir’s third try at “Shall We Gather at the River?” was interrupted by the sound of sirens.
The director sighed. “Let’s take a break.”
The sirens came closer and stopped right outside. The choir went as a group to look out the door.
They watched as two policemen jumped out of a patrol car and headed for the drugstore. Another police car pulled up behind it.
“Maybe we better stay away from the door,” muttered Lenore, a soprano.
“It’s all right, he’s gone,” said Marylou.
“Whoever he was in the drugstore.” The one who wasn’t “the one.”
“How do you know?”
“I saw him leave,” Marylou replied.
“You saw him …” Lenore’s voice rose, and she nudged Marylou in the direction of the patrol car as one of the officers came back out of the store.
“Officer!” she called before Marylou could protest. The officer turned and walked toward them.
“What’s happened?” Lenore asked.
“Lieutenant Ferguson, ma’am. There’s been a burglary at the drugstore. They set off an alarm at the security service. No need to be frightened, though. The perp’s long gone.”
Great, thought Marylou, on top of it all my would-be dream man is a burglar.
“Maybe Marylou, here, can help,” offered the soprano, taking Marylou by the arm.
The lieutenant gave Marylou a questioning look. Marylou could not help but notice that he had deep brown eyes and a warm smile. “Did you see anything, ma’am?”
“I saw someone leave.” She described the man remembering to include the details about the suit and hair.
He smiled. “Unfortunately, that describes a lot of people,” he made a note anyway, and snapped the notebook shut. “Appreciate your help. The other officer will take your name and get back to you if we need to.” He turned to go.
“I saw his car, too,” Marylou called after him.
The lieutenant whirled around and came back. “What did you say?”
“I saw his car.”
“How do you know it was his car?”
“He got into it.”
The officer smiled and waited.
“He came out of the store, crossed the street, and got into the car.” Marylou explained. “It was an out-of-state silver sports car. I don’t know what state, but its colors were blue and green.” She had the handsome lieutenant’s full attention now. “The license number was 4ME172.” She blushed remembering her fantasy about the 4ME part.
“Get that on the airwaves, Tim,” he said to his partner.
As his partner turned away, the lieutenant turned back to Marylou with a smile. “You’re very observant, ma’am. How did you notice him, his car, even his license plate?” He looked impressed.
“I was taking a break from choir practice and just happened to see his car. Then he came out.” No need to go into more detail, she thought.
He nodded. “Come down to the station with us and make a statement. It’ll be a great help.”
The two exchanged a smile as he closed the patrol car door after her.
“I think I’d like singing,” he said as he climbed into the front. “Can anyone join the choir?”
“Sure.” Marylou imagined telling him the whole story over a romantic pasta dinner in the not-so-distant future. They’d both laugh. She reminded herself of the book’s final admonition: “Keep an open mind. You could meet someone anytime, anywhere.”