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Playing the dating game

Once upon a time, back when only the top half of Elvis was allowed on TV, there was no Match.com, no Christian Mingle, and no Plentyoffish.com. “Online” didn’t exist, let alone online dating sites to meet prospective marriage material. We selected our potential mates based on whatever was available, usually while still in high school.

We often met the person with whom we’d spend the rest of our lives when a classmate said, “So and So likes you.” After a few years of dating So and So, we’d marry and live happily ever after — or maybe not.

I became a “maybe not” when my marriage of a couple of decades ended. I started dating again a few years after Elvis, both top and bottom halves, went to that Big Graceland in the Sky. Even though society was much looser, there was still no easy way to meet your next mate. “Online” was  barely part of the vernacular. Still, 41 percent of the population was divorced, so there had to be others on the singles scene, and perhaps 15 percent of those were not deranged. Unfortunately, the primary way to meet them was at singles events, events that included drinking and dancing.

I’d never been much of a drinker, and I danced like I was swatting insects. Nevertheless, during my first bar/dance singles evening, I ordered tequila. “Hi there!” I said to the guy on the barstool next to me. “Wanna dance, big guy?”

“Sure thing, pretty lady,” he said. “I’m Elmer, as in Fudd.” He climbed off the stool. His head came up to my chest. When we began to dance, I flailed like a lunatic. Elmer shouted up at me, “You can’t dance.”

I ran to a pay phone and called my ex. “Take me back,” I pleaded.

It took me a while to visit the dance/bar scene again, but the next time I slowly sipped wine, making for a more sophisticated version of myself, which was hard while sobbing. Still, a man tapped me on the shoulder. “Want to dance?” he asked.

“You look familiar,” I told him.

“I’m your veterinarian,” he said.

I stepped on his feet as we swayed, and had no idea what to say. Finally I whispered in his ear, “My dog has diarrhea.”

“Nice to see you, Mrs. H.,” he said, as he backed away. “I hope Wiggles’ stool gets better.”

The next time I ventured out, I didn’t drink at all. In spite of my former disasters, I felt more confident, and was ready when a cuddly looking guy sat next to me. He didn’t drink either, and said he wasn’t much of a dancer. Those two things were potential mate material! Afterward, we went out for coffee. “Where do you live?” I asked, as we sipped our brews.

“Right now, I live in an alcohol rehab facility across the street. As soon as I’m through with the program, I can go back to my wife and kids.”

There were more disasters. I even dated some. One gave me a book of duck stamps for my birthday; another sent a replacement when he was supposed to take me out; another drew smiley faces on restaurant checks.

Not one to give up, I went to more singles dances. One night a cute guy told me I was a good dancer! I figured anyone who thought that would put up with anything. I married him.

We’re living happily ever after. He won’t, however, take me dancing.

— Judi Veoukas

Judi Veoukas is a humor columnist for two weekly newspapers in the Chicago area, the Lake County Journal and the Gurnee Journal and has been published in Funny Times. Her columns have won first place twice as well as second place in the Illinois Press Association contest.

Reflections of Erma