There was a high pitch of excitement in the Paladini home – and all across Central California! It was October of 2010, and it looked like the Giants would be going to the playoffs! Against all odds.
We proudly wore our Orange and Black. When Monica and Dan talked on the phone they often debated the relative merits of their two Orange and Black teams. Dan is an avid and knowledgeable fan of all sports, but especially and most adamantly, of the Baltimore Orioles. Indeed, as Monica had told me years earlier, that was one of the reasons they would probably never “get together” – he loved the Orioles and she loved the Giants. That, and the fact that Dan was determined to live in Maryland and Monica never wanted to live anywhere except California.
It had been almost two years since their date to New York City. They had both dated several other people, but the friendship between them was deepening, and the phone calls were more frequent.
But he was still “Dan Spilman, my friend from Pensacola” – someone only marginally connected to our family. Now as I look back in my mommy archives I can clearly remember the afternoon that all changed and Dan took on more solid dimensions.
We stood there trying to figure out who they were from… Monica had a lot of guy friends. At first we were pretty sure they were from someone I’ll call “Joe”, but when the second bouquet arrived “Joe” had signed it. Back to square one: Who was her Secret Admirer?
We were talking about it as we did errands later that afternoon. We were driving to the car wash when Monica suddenly said, “I think they’re from Dan Spilman! On the envelope of the card it said ‘Monica Bee’ and Dan’s the only one who calls me ‘Monica Bee’ except for our family.”
As if on cue, Monica’s cell phone rang and the caller was Dan. He said he had called to wish her Happy Birthday.
I drove and listened as Monica tried to get him to admit he had sent the roses. We kept grinning at each other while Dan, on the speaker phone, disavowed any knowledge of the bouquet. But it was clear to us that they were from him.
Besides calling to wish Monica happy birthday, Dan said he was calling to see if he could come and visit her. He was planning to come out to California on a business trip and he said he’d like to come and see her and meet her family. I told Monica we could fix up a bedroom for him in the office.
A few weeks later Dan arrived. And with the help of windmills on the altamont, taco truck burritos, family Scrabble games, the Giants winning the World Series, and the exciting victory parade…they fell in love.
The Maryland boy found himself caught up in the thrill of Giants’ fever, and he fell in love with the California Girl, and with California into the bargain. It was fun to watch it happen right under our very noses.
When Dan left a week later Monica asked if we could invite him to have Christmas with us, and we did.
Dan brought his laptop and telecommuted while he was with us. Sometimes he took his laptop to the restaurant and worked while Monica did her shift. A hard-working, honorable young man — the more we got to know him the more we liked him.
Monica bloomed and John and I smiled. It seemed that our 24 year old daughter, who had sworn she was destined to be single all her life, had met her match. We always prayed for our children and prayed for whoever they might grow up and fall in love with. It seemed that once again, God had proved faithful!
The huge extended Paladini family gathered at our house for Christmas, and Dan won all of their hearts. We had friends over for New Year’s Eve and they all loved him too.
And then, the next day, on January first he came into the kitchen, where John and I were sitting at the table. He sat down and asked if he could talk with us. After a few minutes of general, pleasant conversation he came to the point. Would it be alright with us if he asked Monica to marry him?
To be continued (but not on this blog)