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     Bryan and Sandy hurried through dinner and then brought everything back inside that wasn’t designed to be exposed to the elements. After throwing the dirty dishes in the dishwasher or sink she took his hand in hers and hurried him to the front bedroom where he quickly stripped off his clothes. Opening the closet door she said, “Okay. Let’s see what we have here that will make you look like a stud, stud.”

     Bryan replaced his ‘mom’ jeans with a pair of fitted chinos, donned a tailored black dress shirt, exchanged casual leather shoes for the rundown sneakers he had planned to wear and finally put on the sport coat Sandy handed him. “Better,” she said. “Much better.”

     “A suit? I have to wear a suit to this place?”

     “First of all it’s a sport coat, not a suit,” she replied. “At your age I would only wear a suit to a funeral, very important meeting or an evening wedding. And no, you get to wear a sport coat. Clothes are meant to be fun! Remember the nice thing you said about me last night at dinner? The whiplash thing? Well sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. How about a tie?”

     Bryan’s raised scrunched up face conveyed his response. “No, huh? We’ll have to work on that. Listen, beautiful if I’m going to have a boy toy he’s going to have to look the part,” she said with a wink and a peck. “And now you do. Let’s have fun, okay?!”

     “Hard not to with you. Clothes have never been my thing, that’s all. Sauce for the what?”

     “Good for the goose, good for the gander? Quid pro quo? Equal pay for equal work? If you like me looking pretty then it stands to reason I’d feel the same about you. Really? Never heard that one?”

     “All but the sauce one. And thanks. I like it when you call me pretty. Or handsome.”

     “Oh, handsome is easy. Pretty is hard to pull off and you do it beautifully. We need to go!”

     Sandy grabbed a slinky wrap that somehow made her even more adorable and they scrambled downstairs, pausing just long enough to say goodnight to Ninja. “Don’t wait up, kitty!” she said as they left the house. “Hey, you want to drive?”

     “Sure, if you want. You okay?”

     “Yes, I’m fine. Just a little headache and then I can look at my B.T. instead of the road. Pull out and I’ll get in, okay?”

     “Sure,” Bryan replied, opening first his car door then the garage and pulling forward. He put the car in park and reached over and opened Sandy’s door for her. “B.T.?”

     “’Boy Toy’. My new name for you, though you are anything but either. I figure if I’m going to be a cougar I might as well relax to it.”

     “Big change of heart. Anything happen I should know about?”

     “No. Just feeling optimistic. About life, us, the world. Kismet rocks.”


     “Fate? Related to Karma, only different. I decided that I’ve been fighting the universe and need to stop. God brought you to me and I need to accept His gift.”

     “Getting pretty deep,” he said, pulling out onto the street. “Through town or Collins Road?”

     “Yuck. Either way is a hassle. I’ll be glad when they get the Highway 100 bridge finished. Through town. And are you making fun of me?” she asked, eyebrows raised.

     “What? Oh, no. Not smart ass getting deep, real getting deep. I guess I don’t think about God giving me things, I just make do with what I have and count my blessings. As of late I’ve been counting you a lot,” he answered.

     “Ditto. Okay. Cool. I’m trying to accept that things happen for a reason. Maybe you’re it.”

     “Reason or not I’m glad I’m it,” he replied.

     Giving Tree Theater did not have a parking lot and the on street parking along 10th Street was full. “Turn right at the next light,” Sandy said. “There’s a bank there we can park in.”

     They walked the short distance from the bank to Giving Tree and entered the small lobby. A tall, dark, handsome man looked up and smiled at them and Sandy smiled and waved back. “Well, hello again! Nice to have you back,” he said. Checking his clipboard he said, “It looks like you’re in the living room. Enjoy the show!”

     “Thanks, Richie,” Sandy answered as an usher walked them toward the front of the theater. “That was Richie Akers. He and his wife own this place. Just opened this year. And their daughter is playing Helen.”

     “Helen who?”

     “What?! Really? Oh, I’m sorry! I thought you knew. This is ‘The Miracle Worker’? The story of Helen Keller and her teacher Annie Sullivan? I didn’t tell you?”

     “You said ‘The Miracle Worker,’ I said, ‘Sure!’ It’s all good. I like theater and I like being with you, what else do I need to know?”

     “Okay. This is new to me. Right you are, what else do we need except each other and a great show? Thanks. Mind blown in a good way.”

     They sat in a cozy love seat and Bryan looked around the theater. The room was at least twice as deep as it was wide and the section closest to the stage held mismatched sofas, love seats and overstuffed chairs. Directly behind these were padded arm chairs that were separated by tiny tables that held candles in glass containers and toward the back were the traditional padded theater seats that fold up when not in use. At the very back was an open wooden staircase that led to a small balcony area.

     “This is wild, isn’t it?” Bryan asked. “Sort of a restaurant, cabaret, theater theme. Eclectic hardly foots the bill, huh?”

     “Yes. Isn’t it great? I love coming here,” she whispered in his ear.

     “You said you saw Pat’s husband here?”

    “Len? Yes. In ‘Arsenic and Old Lace.’ I came to ‘Glass Menagerie’ too. Oh! Daisy Buchanan was in that one!”

     “Wait, what?”

     “Oh, my young friend Hannah. The girl I told you about that’s going to play Daisy in ‘Gatsby’ tomorrow.”

     “Oh, oh, oh. Got it. Cool.”

     The house lights dimmed and the man who had greeted them took the stage with a willowy blonde who looked a bit like a shorter version of Sandy. They introduced themselves, the play, welcomed everyone for coming, thanked their sponsors and then exited stage right. Bryan had only the slightest knowledge of Helen Keller and found ‘The Miracle Worker’ riveting. When the intermission arrived he leaned over to Sandy and whispered, “I wish I’d brought a handkerchief. My sleeves getting wet.”

   Sandy smiled knowingly and reached into her purse. “You should have said something,” she answered, handing him a tissue. “I didn’t realize you were crying too. Better take more than one because I promise there are a lot more tears to come.”