The true story of how I met my wife
Part Four—You Like Country Music?
Drayson and I stamped the snow off our shoes by the front door of the building. The girls had kindly waited for us in the lobby. Together, we made our way to Lydia’s first floor, junior one-bedroom apartment.
Lydia served a chocolate cake that she and Veta had picked up a week earlier. They had visited Lydia’s cousin, Mark, at the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont where he was studying to become a chef. Later that year, he would bake our wedding cake.
During the course of the evening I discovered that our hostess, Lydia, had been baptized at the same convention as I in Montréal, Québec in 1985. I thought that was cool. I also learned that Lydia liked country music. I thought that was weird.
“You like country music?” I asked, not quite being able to grasp the idea. “Really?” I am quite tolerant and accepting. I mean, to each his (or her) own, to be sure, but country music?
I grew up on classic rock and we lived in a city with a dozen or two stations to choose from. I was puzzled because this wasn’t some backwater town that only had one radio station and you had to listen to country music. At the time, I was biased—close to prejudiced—against country music. (I have since matured in my tastes and now enjoy a wide range of music, including, yes, country.)
“I like that you can understand the lyrics,” Lydia explained, “and I like that the songs tell a story.”
I thought about her response for a while. What stuck with me was that she had reasons for liking country music. For her, it wasn’t a case of, “well, my mammy always listened to it…” As a result, while I didn’t understand her choice, I did respect it.
The evening drew late and our troop decided to head back to the ‘burbs, since the next day was a work day for most of us. Veta and Anne-Marie waited by the front door while the guys went to get the car. For the fourth time this evening I brushed the snow off my car, in my dress coat and shoes.
The car, however, refused to budge from its spot. Drayson volunteered to push as I rocked the car backward and forward to get some forward momentum. As the car broke free, I kept it moving forward to prevent it from getting stuck again. Like a stunt man, Drayson ran up beside the car, opened the door, and hopped into his seat.
At the front of the building, the girls got in. They had gotten directions to a gas station from someone in the local half of our group. However, in trying to execute the instructions, we found ourselves getting lost. I was getting frustrated, so I made a decision to just head for Mississauga, where I knew of half a dozen 24-hour gas stations.
We accelerated up the westbound ramp onto an elevated highway, the Gardiner Expressway. As we did, I felt the car stutter slightly. No one else in the car noticed it, but I knew that we had about two or three minutes of drive time left. On a later trip to Toronto, in better weather and during the daytime, I discovered that, on that same street where we picked up the highway, there was a 24-hour gas station just one block in the other direction.
We would not be using that gas station on that evening, though.
The highway was deserted. I was trying to remember what my next available exit would be. After a short distance, the car shuddered again more urgently as the last sips of gasoline mixed with air, made the trip from the vacant tank to the fuel injectors.
Drayson looked over at me. He noticed the car’s behavior and knew what it meant.
I answered his unasked question. “We’re going to run out of gas.”
A few seconds later the car stalled. This got everyone’s attention.
“Are we out of gas?” someone in the back seat asked.
“Yes,” I said.
I knew our next exist was not far and the downward slope in the highway favored us, so I let the car coast in neutral. The exit ramp was in sight, but it was a fairly steep grade up. As we made the bottom of the ramp, I restarted the car, gunned her up the ramp, and onto the street before the engine quit again.
I tried to restart the engine. It would start and then quit almost instantly. After a couple more tries, I gave up. Since the road crews had not gotten around to plowing this street yet, the deep snow also impeded any movement.
The long and short of it was; we were stranded.
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20/Mar/2007 – Beginnings, Part Four 2 comments