Well I Never!
“Never say never!” was a common motto growing up. I was fed on the stories of life going awry due to some uncalculated utterance that began, “I will never…” The more emphatic the declaration, the more certain the event will occur. Like the time my mother said, “I will never raise my kids in Utah!” We consequently spent seven years in Happy Valley. Growing up with this knowledge should have forestalled me from any such mishap in my own life. Alas, I am a poor listener.
Over the years many small occurrences seemed to prove the point, but somehow those evidences did not prevent me from declaring with certainty when we moved to Bremerton, a Navy town, that I would never date a Navy guy! I had never lived in a military town and was not prepared for the onslaught of stories about the horrors of military life. When confronted with the overwhelming evidence against marrying into the military, I declared with fervor, “I will never date a Navy guy!”
As you can imagine, the local singles ward was chock full of Navy guys. This limits dating partners when over half are automatically crossed off the list. Still, there were plenty of non-military fellows to date and there was nothing wrong with being friends with military personnel. I went on many excursions and to hundreds of dances with an array of military and non-military guys.
Then the fateful day arrived. I got a call from Daniel asking me out. I knew he was military, but one date couldn’t hurt right? I did not want to be rude, so I acquiesced. Daniel showed up at my house in a silver 1979 Datsun 280z that was showing its age. He had affectionately named it Norman, after his grandfather, who had also served in the Navy. My driveway was quite steep and he had forgotten to put on the emergency brake. As he walked me to the car, in full gentlemanly stature, he seated me in the passenger side and shut the door just as the car began rolling down the driveway. I scrambled to pull the brake while Daniel ran and jumped over the hood of the car like a stunt man from The Dukes of Hazzard. He got in and started Norman up just as it hit the street. Clearly my before mentioned declaration was getting the best of me.
After the excitement of a runaway car wore off and we were headed on the highway I asked him where we were going. He said, “I heard about this park with a waterfall.” It sounded lovely. Unfortunately, he had only a vague idea of where said “park” was located and consequently, after about 20 minutes, we were hopelessly lost. Now, I am geographically challenged, so getting lost is no uncommon occurrence in my life. I have learned to enjoy it. Daniel, on the other hand, was a navigator in the Navy. Getting lost was not something he did. We drove aimlessly for a while before stopping at a city park. Jackson and Lund, it was called. Perhaps it was a sign, since Daniel was stationed on the Jackson at the time. So we pulled in and started to walk as aimlessly as we drove, but as we walked we talked.
We talked about where we grew up, what we liked to do, etc. We walked and talked for about an hour through thickly forested trees. I found it most pleasant, but from Daniel’s point of view, it was not going so well. He dropped me off and that was that. We still saw each other at church and at various activities, but we did not go on another date until a year later.
My family has a tradition where everyone 18 and older would get a date and go to dinner and then to the Valentine’s dance held by the stake. I love this tradition. There is nothing quite as fun for me, then eating good food with my family and friends and then dancing. I was all excited to go when my date called the day before the dance to tell me he was stuck in Seattle and would not be able to make it. I was devastated! This would be my first year missing it (except for when I was on my mission). Knowing that Daniel might know who was not already going in the ward I called him up for advice. He could tell right away that I was upset. I asked him if he knew of anyone I could take last minute to the dance.
“Well, you could take me.” He replied.
“You want to go?” I asked incredulously. He assured me that he was planning on going anyway, just stag; at least this way he would have a date. It was agreed. He sent me a huge floral arrangement, which completely floored me. The dinner was wonderful and the dance was quite fun. Daniel loves to dance so we had a blast. We lindy hopped and slow danced the night away. In the end I knew what I had to do. Nine years and four kids later, marrying Daniel is still the best decision I ever made.
In the end having to live out my “Never” became the greatest thing that has ever happened to me, so maybe it’s just as well I never listened to the advice, “Never say Never!”