Middle-aged hermit plans mystery date for skeptical mate

Middle-aged hermit plans mystery date for skeptical mate

“Well, you know your father,” Kristin said. “He doesn’t like to do anything, so I really don’t have a clue as what he has planned for us.”

I had walked into the room to catch the end of a phone conversation my wife was having with our daughter Charlotte.

“Wow, I caught you trash-talking me to our own daughter?” I sniffed, feigning deep emotional damage. “That’s the thanks I get for planning an exciting mystery date for the two of us?”

“Oh geez, John, you knew darn well this would drive me nuts,” she said. “That’s probably the biggest reason you even came up with the idea of a mystery date.”

“You are wise nearly beyond your many, many years,” I laughed. “But wow, you think I don’t like to do anything? Isn’t that just a bit dramatic, Kristin?”

I knew what she meant, of course, and she nailed it pretty well when it comes to most of the things that normal folks do for a night out. Dinner at a restaurant, strolling the corridors at a shopping mall, hanging out at a sports bar, settling in at the movies — I can think of a thousand things I would much rather do. But don’t rush to write me off as an antisocial hermit.

I have, in fact, participated in each of these activities and continue to do so, albeit grudgingly, when family harmony demands. Let’s just say that if you spot me at the local wing joint on game night, I’m probably there for someone else’s birthday.

While the plan for my big mystery date was hatched less than a week beforehand when I’d read a short blurb in the Local Events section of the newspaper, the seed for the idea had been planted in my brain somewhere back in the early 1970s. That’s when our elementary school gym teacher spent several weeks trying to instill the tiniest modicum of culture and humanity in a bunch of sweaty, obnoxious, smart-aleck fourth-graders by teaching us the basics of square dance. (Note: It is quite possible I alone was a sweaty, obnoxious smart aleck, but it reads better when I besmirch my classmates right along with me.)

While at that time and in that place, square dancing seemed to be the weirdest, most awkward thing I’d ever experienced — I had to touch the hand of a girl for Pete’s sake — but over the years I’ve come to admire Mr. Burnett’s efforts. Those clumsy do-si-dos and gawky promenades were meant to temper us a bit before the crushing wave of puberty left us all hopelessly adrift in a sea of bashful self-doubt. Either that or it was a great way to juice the curriculum with something other than dodgeball or crab soccer for a couple of weeks.

The point of this little cartwheel through the cobwebs of personal history is that despite my prepubescent discomfort, there was something to this whole notion of moving about with others to the sound of a fiddle. It stuck with me, only to bubble to the surface after 50 years or so, and its timing couldn’t have been better. Stuck in the dead of winter with not a lot to do, especially for a middle-aged, antisocial hermit, I struck on the idea of a mystery date and the rest is next week’s history. Be sure to swing back around for the exciting reveal.

Kristin and John Lorson would love to hear from you. Write Drawing Laughter, P.O. Box 170, Fredericksburg, OH 44627, or email John at jlorson@alonovus.com.