She ran a personal ad in the Contra Costa Times: Single white female looking for single Asian man. Her two previous boyfriends had been Asian. James called and left a message with his phone number on a Friday night.
The next morning Pam checked her phone messages. She liked his voice as she listened to him describe himself. But there was a red flag. He’d left the message at 2:00 a.m.
Pam decided to call James back. When he answered she could hear classical music playing in the background. She liked that. James asked if they could meet for a hike.
“Why don’t you pick me up?” Pam said.
She gave him her address. Then she wondered if that had been a prudent thing to do. She called her friend and said, “Natalie, if I show up missing, look for me in Briones Regional Park.”
He pulled up in a brown mini-van that his nephew had named the Hippo. He had boxes of Girl Scout cookies on the dashboard. Neither of these things made her comfortable. But Pam got in and hoped for the best.
They hiked to the look-out point at the top of Briones. There was a nice bench up there, where they sat and talked.
Pam knew that James was an okay guy, even though he ran ahead of her on the way back down because he had to go to the bathroom. When he got to the bathrooms, they were locked. Poor James! He was trying hard to look cool and collected, but he really needed to pee.
“Could I call you again?” he asked. “Maybe take you to dinner tomorrow night?”
The next day was a Sunday, chore day. Pam was a single mom and had lots to do, including washing her hair. James knew that was red flag when a woman said she had to wash her hair.
They went to the San Francisco zoo the following weekend. He asked her her favorite thing to do. She said skiing. James didn’t know how, but he took a lesson without telling her and then asked her to go to Boreal Ridge with him to ski. All he could do was snowplow, but Pam was charmed that he was trying so hard to please her.
Most men bring flowers to their girlfriend. James brought fruit – watermelon to be specific — already seeded and cut up, ready to eat. Pam couldn’t believe she had ever worried about this sweet guy.
Twenty months later, James had a ring in his pocket and was ready to pop the question. In December, he took her back in to Briones Regional park, where it all started. His plan was to propose at the bench at the top, but it was a cold, windy day, and Pam was getting tired. He spotted another bench and asked her there to marry him.
“Yes!” Pam said.
They were engaged for a while and decided to have a small wedding. They would wait until March 8th came around again and get married on the anniversary of their first date.
In 2000, they flew to Hawaii for the big day. They got married on a beach by the Kona Surf hotel. There were just five people there – a minister, a harpist, a wedding coordinator, James and Pam. She wore a white sundress. He wore white pants and a Hawaiian shirt. They go back every other year on their anniversary, put on those same clothes and stand on the beach, renewing their commitment to one another.
Couldda Wouldda Didda
James is glad they got married in 2000. That makes it easy to remember how many years they’ve been married. 2018? 18 years. He also can remember their anniversary since he has a special place in his heart for March 8th, the day he drove up in the Hippo with Girl Scout cookies on the dashboard, a nervous Pam climbed inside, and they headed to the rest of her lives.