Rebound relationships rarely work out and I experienced that first hand during my mid-life crisis when I separated from my ex-husband in early December 1984. The doctor who I was engaged to during my divorce wasn’t the one for me after all and I realized that after about four months. He was a nice guy, 9 years older than me (my ex was 11 years older), and he was a good dance partner. We met while square dancing and enjoyed that as well as clogging together and we were quite good at it. So, I became “single” for a very short while again.
I dated regularly but I really felt that another marriage may not be in the cards for me unless I found someone special. I enjoyed the single life. I married young and never really had a chance to be wild as an adult. Now I had that chance. The caged bird flew out of the cage, so to speak.
After my Tahoe Paradise home was broken into, the only thing taken was my police scanner, I was suddenly afraid in my own home, as I lived alone eight miles from town. My cousin’s boyfriend was living in his car with his dog so I invited him to room with me for protection. I would take the upstairs and he and the dog would have the downstairs and we would share the common areas. This provided me some peace and security.
My roommate was employed in construction, working on a 13,000 square foot house in Cave Rock, Nevada, for a guy named Bill. Bill was building this house for a friend of his whose brother was in the entertainment business, the Muppets, to be exact, as well as being a Hollywood director. They were high school friends of Bill’s who grew up in the Oakland hills.
My roommate saw me through some relationships and told me that I should meet his boss. He said the boss was a nice guy and I was a nice woman and we should meet. I wasn’t too excited about the prospect at first, since meeting the right kind of guy was next to impossible in Lake Tahoe.
My cousin worked across the street from my office at City Hall and arranged a blind date for me and this guy named Bill. The day approached. The plan was that my cousin, her boyfriend, and I would go to Harvey’s Casino El Vaquero Restaurant and meet up with Bill for dinner that coming Friday night.
I mentioned my plans that Friday to my co-workers. They scared the living daylights out of me by telling me horror stories about blind dates that went sour. I heard enough to make me march across the street on my break to the car dealership to tell my cousin that I changed my mind and that I was not going to go on this blind date after all.
My cousin came unglued and started arguing with me and telling me how she went through all this trouble to arrange this date and yada yada. Ok, I relented and agreed to keep the date. And, it is a good thing that I did because that night changed my life.
On Friday, May 3, 1985, we got to Harvey’s and waited in the lounge area. As all women do, my cousin and I got up to go to the bathroom together. When we headed back to the restaurant from the hallway to the bathroom, I spotted this tall, blond curly haired, mustachioed man wearing a butterscotch colored leather blazer, black jeans, and western boots walking down the ramp towards the restaurant with a smile on his face. I thought to myself, “Girl if this is the guy, you are in big trouble.” As the hallway and the ramp intersected, my cousin was ahead of me and said “hello” to Bill. Oh no – trouble for sure! We were introduced and continued to the restaurant.
What a nice guy, I thought, interesting, good talker, personable, jovial, and very optimistic. Not a negative guy at all. He paid for dinner for all of us which I thought was nice. He actually saw a photo of me that my cousin provided so it was not such a blind date for him, he confessed.
He kind of made fun of my menu selection for dinner which was flour tortillas and refried beans to go along with my strawberry margarita. I ordered what I really wanted so what was the big deal? After dinner we walked next door to Lilly’s dancehall at the High Sierra, formerly Sahara Tahoe, and now Horizon Casino. As we walked next door, I put my hand in his and he liked it. He still talks about that to this day. I always was a touchy feely type and I love outward shows of affection. He was not used to that at all.
Much to my surprise, Bill liked to dance. Hot damn, a guy who does not have to be drunk to get out on the dance floor. Wow. I was impressed. We enjoyed dancing for hours. We kind of got lost in each other’s eyes which caused Bill to miss some steps in his dancing; it still happens to this day when we dance.
My cousin, Stella, and her guy left me at Lilly’s with Bill who offered to take me home so we could spend more time dancing and having fun. When Bill did take me home, a 12 mile drive back to my house, we talked and talked and before you know it the time was 3:30 AM. I remember thinking, “Is this guy ever going to shut up and kiss me or what?” We kissed and the rest is personal. Suffice it to say, we were meant for each other.
The following day, Saturday in the late afternoon, I had a date with a square dancer from the west side of the lake to travel to Reno to a Silver State Square Dance Convention with my square dance club which was planned for weeks. I could not cancel as I promised this man I would be his dance partner. He arrived and picked me up and all I could think about while driving to Reno was Bill and at the dance thinking of him instead of the allemande lefts, dosey does, etc. I could not wait to get back to see Bill again.
When we got back from Reno that night it was really quite late, well after midnight, and I offered the sofa bed to my square dance partner so he could sleep over until he was rested because he lived about 45 minutes away. I went upstairs to my room, locked the door, and slept. I could not seem to get rid of this guy the next day, however, and he stayed until almost Bill returned to take me out for our official date to dinner at Nephele’s wonderful restaurant in South Shore. Bill arrived on time with a beautiful lavender plant. He paid attention to the colors I liked and I thought this was very sweet of him and I liked that he paid attention.
I think we knew when we first met that we were meant for each other. We spent lots of time with each other but Bill lived in Round Hill, about 15 miles from my home.
I invited Bill to a retirement party for Fred, a co-worker, that I was throwing the following weekend and when the evening arrived, he actually showed up. I was impressed that he would want to come to a party with about 150 strangers and the only one he would know was me. What a nice guy, I thought. What other guy would do this?
The funny thing is that I was all of a sudden getting sick every time we were together and had to keep popping Tums. I told him that I really was a healthy woman and I could not understand this. I realized it must have been stress. I thought this was too good to be true. Pinch me, I think I was dreaming. I found a wonderful single man in of all places, Lake Tahoe, and I was really in love.
When I invited him to come to see where I worked, I introduced him to the office staff. When Bill left City Hall, my friend, Larry came into my office and said, “Hey Petri, you said he was a nice guy but you didn’t say he was this Greek God.” I was pleased at his approval for sure. Everyone liked him, and why not? He was a really nice guy.
My roommate decided to move out when Bill and I got together. Although I did not see Bill every night, the other nights he spent working out in the gym with his roommate, Stefan, brother-in-law of the man whose house they were building.
Bill and I discussed our future together and by mid-August, he moved in with me. I always swore I would not live with man unless I was married because I did not believe in that, but he was living with the family whose house he was building and at this time needed a place to live. So, I let him move in.
Bill was amazed that winter how cold it was in my house and we joke about it today that we could see the words forming in the air as we spoke. I couldn’t wait to move back to the warmth of the Bay Area.
We made several trips to the Bay Area and I secured a job with the City of Orinda as the first Planning Department Secretary in a newly formed city, a job I would start when I returned from my honeymoon.
In order to keep my health insurance with the City of South Lake Tahoe, I had to work one day in the month to be covered, so I worked until May 1, until my new insurance kicked in with my new job in June. We put the house on the market and sold it pretty quickly. My ex wanted to settle for the offer we got but I held out for another $10K and we got it.
We planned our wedding for exactly a year to the day we met, May 3rd, 1986, in Oakland. The private wedding with close family members was at his mom’s home in the Oakland hills and the reception was at the Hiller Highlands Country Club (which burned down in the fire storm years later).
As a wedding gift, our best man, who Bill was building the large house for, gave us his home in Orinda to live in until we found our own place. We looked around and found our Pleasant Hill home and the deal closed within five months of our looking for a place to settle down.
My chiropractor in Tahoe said it would be a miracle if my back did not go out due to stress caused by the divorce, selling my home that I lived in for ten years, packing, moving, securing a home for my son so he could finish the school year from May to mid-June, organizing our wedding and reception, getting married, going on a honeymoon to Hawaii, starting a new job, living at a friend’s house in Orinda until we found a house to purchase, my husband starting a new business in the Bay Area, etc. Surprisingly, I had no problems with my back which was a miracle in and of itself.
Funny and sappy as it may sound, we would go back to Tahoe regularly and re-create that day we met in the hallway of Harvey’s Casino. We even took his mom up with us to show her where it was that we first met.
Blind dates can be good. Blind dates could mean you could find the person you were meant to be with but whose paths you may not otherwise cross. I just know that I met my soul mate and have loved him more each day than the day before. It has been over 26 years together and we are still very much in love and had lots of fun over the years. My wish is for everyone to find that one special person who completes them. Not everyone is lucky enough to find that person. It was time for me to be blessed with Bill in my life and I thank God every day for that blessing.