THE LITTLE MATCHMAKER Cynthia J. Patton
| The other day, Mom told me that my brother might be getting a dog. I asked why, since my brother is in the middle of a divorce and lives in a rental house. A dog seemed like the last thing he needed.
"He wants to do it for the boys," Mom said. "Give them something their mom won't allow." We were both quiet for a minute, thinking about my nephews. Then Mom brightened. "Plus, with a dog he can meet women at the dog park. That's how they do it these days."
I refrained from mentioning that I had a far better idea of how dating was conducted than my mother ever did. The only person she dated was my dad -- back in the early 1960s. I, on the other hand, didn't get married until I was 30. Fourteen years later, I'd become single again. But her comment got me thinking. I had an energetic dog in need of exercise. Why wasn't I going to the dog park?
Then I remembered that I own a Husky who plays a little rough for the average non-sled-dog owner. Commenting on my dog's ability to body-slam an unsuspecting Border Collie was never going work as a pickup line.
A few days later, my daughter and I went to our favorite fish taco place for dinner. We were halfway through our meal when a cute middle-age guy walked in. He caught my eye briefly while he waited in line at the counter, and I could tell there was a spark. Or maybe that was the jalapeno talking.
Besides, no guy was going to pick me up while I ate tacos with my autistic 9-year-old.
After Cute Guy ordered, he stood by the counter. Then he walked past our table. Katie looked up and smiled her brightest smile. "Hi," she said, loud and clear.
Cute Guy paused and turned around. "Hi," he said, coming over to our table and bending down to Katie's level. "What's your name?"
Katie was not expecting this. She started sucking deeply on her soda and smiling at Cute Guy from around her straw.
He laughed. "So that's it? You just wanted to say hi?"
Katie smirked. Cute Guy turned to me. He had gorgeous blue eyes that crinkled when he smiled. Wow. He was even better looking up close. "My daughter used to do that too. Say hi and then get shy." He glanced over at Katie. "She really is beautiful. She must get that from her mom."
My daughter is adopted, so there are many ways I could have answered that statement, but I kept it simple and said thank you. I might have blushed.
He asked again for Katie's name while she silently pulled on the straw. "Oh," he said with a laugh. "I can see you're just toying with me like all the other guys."
"Actually," I said. "I think you might be the first stranger she's ever spontaneously greeted." Cute Guy looked surprised. "She has autism," I said. "So it doesn't come naturally for her like it does for other kids."
Cute Guy didn't bat an eye at this revelation. "Wow," he said to Katie. "I'm flattered that you decided I was worthy of your very first hello. You did it like a pro."
Katie beamed at him. I could tell she was thinking, "Now THIS GUY would make an EXCELLENT daddy."
"Hey, Katie," I said. "What's your name?"
"I'm Katie," she mumbled from around the straw.
"Hi, Katie," he said. "What a beautiful name for a beautiful girl. I'm pleased to meet you."
She burbled into her soda, and Cute Guy laughed. "She's a sweetheart. You've really done a great job with her."
I wanted to marry Cute Guy without even knowing his name. I glanced at his hand resting on the table. No ring.
The guy at the counter called Cute Guy's number. "Sorry," he said. "Got to go. See you later, Katie."
Katie grinned. "Hi," she said.
Cute Guy and I both laughed. He flashed his gorgeous smile, winked and walked away. I was basking in the glow of this unexpected encounter when it dawned on me that Katie had managed to pick up a guy on my behalf.
Cute Guy grabbed his food and headed for the door, stopping briefly to wave goodbye. I caught a flash of metal from what I belatedly realized was his left hand. Was it a ring or a car key? It didn't matter. Who needs the hassle of the dog park when my daughter can reel them in with a single word?
Visit our website: www.chickensoup.com.
(c)2012 by Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC
Distributed by King Features Syndicate