The truth is that from the time I was about fourteen or so I discovered that I was irresistible to women. I had the sort of movie star looks girls swoon over, but unfortunately, I had no acting talent. None.
So I ‘cashed in’ on my looks in the only way I could. I had girlfriends, lots of them, so many that when I was 23 my grandmother took me aside and warned me that I was getting a ‘reputation’. To my young ego, it sounded magnificent.
Up until my early thirties, I had a wonderful time. My mother complained that she’d have to put in a revolving door to accommodate the constant flow of women in and out of my life.
By then women who got involved with me knew I wasn’t looking for a commitment, and that meeting my mother didn’t mean an engagement ring would follow. In fact, meeting my mother was usually the kiss of death.
My mother would take one look at Sally, or Helga, or Franny, or Karen, or Tara, or Laila and slowly shake her head. Nope, no seal of approval. So I knew it was time to move on.
If I was honest I’d admit that the women I was bringing home were definitely not daughter-in-law material, and I only introduced them to my mother when I started to get bored.
One thing I never ever did was meet THEIR mothers. That was out of the question, at least until I met Rita. Rita was not my type, you understand, which is why I was surprised to discover I liked her — a lot.
I was an advertising executive and I was asked to put together a campaign to help raise awareness of the growing number of teens who were becoming addicted to prescription drugs.
The Arizona Health Department sent along a sociologist to brief me on the problem and that was Rita. Like I said she wasn’t my type. No high heels, cleavage, or sexy pout.
Rita had an average height, was average figured, with a fall of shiny average-brown hair pulled back from her face. I commented as much with my colleague after our first meeting: Miss Average.
What wasn’t average about Rita was her mind. She was brilliant, insightful, funny, and witty. By the third meeting, I was noticing that her eyes were beautiful, her mouth sensual.
I noticed that Rita wasn’t average at all, and so I did what I always do when I discovered I fancied a woman, I sent her one hundred red roses and an anonymous invitation to dinner.
A caring, sincere heart is more attractive than charm or good looks.
Then I called her. “Rita,” I said in my most seductive voice, “I’m sorry but I couldn’t wait, I had to hear your voice…”
“Darren?” she sounded surprised, “What do you want?” It wasn’t exactly the tone I was hoping for, but I soldiered on.
“I was wondering if you’d have dinner with me,” I said. “I want to get to know you better.”
“Was it you that sent those awful roses?” she asked.
Awful roses? She didn’t like the roses? “Er…Yes…” I admitted. “I wanted to express my admiration…”
“Consider your admiration expressed. As for the dinner invitation, forget it. My boss warned me when I was given the assignment that you are a compulsive seducer, and not to be trusted. So thanks, but no thanks.”
Please don’t think I gave up, I didn’t. In fact, the more Rita refused me the more I realized how extraordinary she was, and how much I REALLY liked her. But no matter what I did she wouldn’t give me the time of day.
So after six months of getting turned down, I decided to sneak into her life through the back door: I procured an introduction to her mother, May. May was as different from Rita as chalk and cheese.
She was a sunny-faced woman who loved gossip and shopping, and fashion. I knew exactly how to get onto her good side. I was introduced to May by a friend of my mother’s and immediately commented that I knew her daughter.
May was delighted, especially when I confessed that I admired Rita. “Oh,” she sighed, “how I wish Rita would find a man like you! But she always brings home these plain, brainiac types…”
So I wasn’t Rita’s type either, but now I had a secret weapon: May. May liked me, and the truth is that I liked her too. I found myself enjoying her company. May started talking me up to Rita as her new friend, and one day she invited me to Sunday dinner.
May was smiling happily. “Rita, meet my new friend, Darren!” she said, and Rita’s face showed very clearly that she wasn’t pleased.
“What are you doing here?” she snapped.
“Dear,” May said, “I told you I was inviting my new friend…”
“Mom,” Rita said, “This man is working with me on a project for the Department of Health, and he’s a compulsive womanizer. He’s not your friend. He’s using you because he’s decided he wants to add me to his list of trophies.”
“That’s not true!” I protested hotly. “I mean, yes I’m a bit of a womanizer, but you’re different!”
“Yes I am,” said Rita, escorting me to the door. “Goodbye Darren!”
That night I was close to despair. I called my mother, who happens to be my best friend, and told her about how Rita shot me down. She wasn’t very supportive. “Serves you right!” she said.
“Mom!” I protested. “I really REALLY like this girl!”
“I know!” my mother said. “And I’m glad to see she’s taken you down a peg!” I realized I just couldn’t win if my mother was on Rita’s side too. I stopped sending flowers and asking Rita out. I gave up.
Then, about two weeks later, I was walking down the street when a voice called my name. I turned and saw May running towards me and waving happily. At least one woman still appreciates me, I thought, and then May fell!
I watched in horror as she tripped and fell heavily, and I rushed to her side. I immediately called 911, and sat down on the pavement by her side, holding her hand. When the ambulance arrived, I told them I was her son and accompanied her to the hospital.
Poor May was in terrible pain, and the attending doctor told me she’d have to have an X-ray but it looked like she might have injured her hip. I sent Rita a message and settled down to wait for news of May’s progress.
Rita arrived and she was terribly worried. “What are you doing here?” she asked me.
“I was with May when she fell,” I explained, “I didn’t want her to be on her own.”
Rita looked at me. “Thank you,” she said softly.
“There’s no need to thank me,” I said. “I didn’t do it for you. I like May.”
So that day I sat with Rita in that crowded waiting room and waited for news. They told us that May was in surgery and that they would inform us as soon as she was in recovery.
I went and fetched us both some coffee and Rita started telling me about May and about her childhood. Sometime during those harrowing hours, I noticed that Rita was holding my hand.
When the surgeon came out and told Rita that May was going to be alright, she started crying, and it seemed perfectly natural to put my arms around her. She hugged me back.
Later, when I dropped her off at her home, she reached over and gently kissed me. “Darren?” she whispered, “I’d love to have dinner with you, but no roses, OK?”
After that, it didn’t take long, and a year later we were engaged with May’s blessing. My mother loved Rita, and she stood as my best man at our wedding.
What can we learn from this story?
1. Be careful what kind of reputation you build, because it may well scare away the right person.
2. A caring, sincere heart is more attractive than charm or good looks.
Share this story with your friends. It might inspire people to share their own stories or to help someone else.
If you enjoyed this story, you might like this one about a man who discovered that his boss’ gruff manner hid a heart of gold.