Now that I am happily remarried, I will never again have to do the dating thing. Gone are the days when I evaluated every male I met wondering if he could be “the one”. However, since many of my gal-pals are still actively looking for their next love, I get to hear their crazy and often hilarious stories. The following is an account of one of my favorite dating tales.
While I have had my share of minor medical problems over the years, my list of allergies includes only a few (albeit pretty bad) problems. My response to penicillin as a baby turned my entire body into a lovely shade of eggplant rendering me “allergic to penicillin” for the rest of my life; a bizarre over-the-top reaction to a hair scrunch spray that turned me into a walking talking female version of the Elephant Man (whom even my own father didn’t recognize), complete with hives covering every single inch of my body both inside and out for approximately 3 weeks (Talk about suffering to be beautiful!) and a fairly pronounced allergy to cats yielding everything from severe eye swelling to an itch in my throat that at times has been so intense that I’ve resorted to sticking a chopstick down to assist with the scratching. So, when my friend shared this story of love gone wrong partially due to an allergy to cats, I could relate.
Anne had gone on a few dates with Nate and they seemed to really click. He was pretty good looking, appeared to be fairly intelligent, was able to select a good bottle of wine without being too pretentious, and did not seem to have a wife. Overall, the package was one she was willing to explore further. The next logical step was cooking dinner for him which Anne was completely comfortable with. She was an excellent chef having taken several gourmet cooking classes and was proud of her Martha Stewart inspired townhouse. When Nate accepted her invitation, she graciously inquired as to whether he had any food allergies. His response cut her like a knife…no food allergies, just a very severe allergy to anything feline. Eden, Anne’s beautiful calico cat had been with her for the past 8 years, keeping her company through the variety of good times and bad times that punctuate the life of a single woman. She had come to rely on Eden as her sounding board, her number one confidante and even her television companion during movie marathons of happily-ever-after fairy tales. Who needed a man as long as you have something soft to cuddle with plus the essential bowl of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream? But Anne was now craving a completely different kind of cuddling and while Eden would always mean the world to her, it was time for Anne to get down to the business of finding a human companion.
Instead of telling Nate about Eden, Anne chose to say nothing but instead, set off on a journey to find a way to insure she could “have her Nate and Eden, too”. A search on the internet yielded dozens of home remedies for cat allergies but Anne was skeptical and frightened about trying any of them. Instead she turned to her beloved veterinarian’s office who said the answer was as close as her own laundry room. It seems fabric softener can alleviate the main problems many people have with cat and pet hair allergies…the flyaway fur that carries dander, the actual symptom-inciting evil-doer, not the hair itself. Since the dinner date was only a few days away, Anne decided to do a test run on Eden. Armed with a big bottle of fabric softener, she poured two cups worth into a big spray bottle and sprayed it on Eden. The poor little thing cowered as the liquid drenched every inch of her fur. The look of confusion made Anne feel guilty but she gently explained to Eden that this was all being done in the name of (potential) love! When Anne heard the unexpected chime of the doorbell, she left Eden alone for only a couple of minutes but it was long enough for the cat to begin licking the fabric softener off her wet body fast and furiously, with long strokes of her tongue trying to rid herself of this foreign substance. By the time Anne returned, Eden had already had enough time to lick much of the softener off, making herself sick with the poison and the kitty’s violent vomiting began. Anne felt awful, having not realized this could happen to her poor baby. She grabbed Eden, placed her in the shower and gently tried to clean off the fabric softener. Unfortunately, the fabric softener had already done its damage as clumps of fur began falling off Eden and swirling their way down the drain. Anne’s shock turned to hysteria as she lifted her beloved kitty, swaddled her in a soft Egyptian cotton towel and tried to stop the violent shaking of a now nearly hairless skeleton-like cat. Anne grabbed the phone, called the vet’s office and explained what had happened. The nurse was silent but finally responded with, “Oh my gosh…You were supposed to use a fabric softener sheet and just wipe it over the cat. Hopefully, she will be fine. Give her plenty of water, as much as she will take, and bring her in immediately for us to check her out.”
Eden was fine but bald in many spots all over her body and Anne began questioning if this should serve as an omen to forget about Nate and instead set her sights on someone who could love the entirety of her life…fur balls, whiskers, and all. She decided to give it one more shot and hatched a scheme to cook the dinner at Nate’s house instead, feigning an oven with inconsistent heating that just wouldn’t do for the soufflé which she had planned for their tantalizingly delicious dessert. Since the service company couldn’t get to Anne’s house for a few days, she suggested bringing the party to Nate’s. He readily agreed so broaching the tabby topic was unnecessary for the time being.
Arriving at Nate’s four nights later with three sacks of groceries, two bottles of wine, and one heart full of nervous anticipation, Anne rang the doorbell of the house with the Welcome Sign bearing a painting of a Dalmatian. “Funny,” she thought. “Nate never mentioned he had a dog. But, I never told him about Eden, either.” When the door opened, Anne expected to be greeted by a black and white spotted four-legged buddy alongside Nate. But there was no dog, at least not a real live one. Nate helped her with the bags and escorted her into the kitchen passing through a living room that was tastefully decorated with the exception of an uncanny number of photos of a beautiful Dalmatian adorning every nook, cranny and inch of wall space. The real shock came when Anne entered the black and white kitchen and felt as though she had stepped into a real life version of Disney’s 101 Dalmatians. Dish towels, a clock, curtains, placemats, posters, salt and pepper shakers, a cookie jar and even wallpaper all bearing spots and images from the movie assaulted her senses. As she waited for Cruella DeVil to pop out in a spotted fur jacket, Nate sensed her confusion and proceeded to share the bizarre story of his ex-live-in-girlfriend who was awarded “custody” of their dog Domino, when they broke up. Nate was more devastated over losing the dog than the girl and had decorated his entire home in homage to Domino, obviously his “one true love”. Anne inquired as to what he meant when he said “his entire home” had been decorated in memory of Domino and he gave her a quick tour of the house beginning with the guest bathroom whose walls had the same spotted wallpaper as the kitchen and also was done in a black and white motif complete with a soap dispenser in the shape of a Dalmatian’s head and prints on the wall of Dalmatians assisting firemen. But the bizarre nature of this entire experience really hit home for Anne as he proudly showed her his bedroom and pointed out the comforter, sheets, and pillow cases on his bed bearing the logo of 101 Dalmatians and sporting several of the adorable cartoon puppies from the movie. “Pretty cool, huh?” he asked. Anne, never at a loss for words, was completely speechless as she wondered how this seemingly average 47 year old man could think this was normal behavior for someone of his age. She turned to Nate and said, “I guess I should have told you I have a cat and am definitely not a dog person.” The look of hurt and confusion in Nate’s eyes was similar to the one she saw in Eden’s earlier that week. And with that, Anne turned around, bolted out the door, and headed home to Eden, with just a quick stop at the grocery store for a tub of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream and of course some kitty treats. Eden and she both were in need of some well deserved cuddling.
And hadn’t she heard there was a Bogart and Hepburn marathon on TV? True love would just have to wait until after the closing credits.