The Saga of Mr. Meat

I tuned into the Emmys tonight just as they were flashing photos of all the important TV people who died this year. I’d forgotten that Pavarotti was among this group. And it reminded me of the time I saw him at the Kansas Coliseum, on the most perfect date ever. (Well, it was really a non-date — with someone engaged to someone else.)

How we ended up going to this event together is simple indeed. I was sitting in the Midas waiting area, waiting for the oil to be changed on my ’95 maroon Honda, when I got up the nerve to ask him if he “wanted to go along” because I had “free tickets to an opera event” and “it’s tonight and I can’t find anyone to go…it would be such a waste to go by myself.”

So, who was this romance-noveleque dashing man that had me so worked up for a year and half?

It was Mr. Meat.

On the recommendation of my dear coworker Ed, I rented half of a duplex in Riverside in Wichita, from a active geriatric couple who owned the whole block. (Not to be confused with the people associated with 819 S Star.) It was darling. On my first walkthrough, my little-man landlord told me that an FBI agent lived next door, and in my head I pictured a balding, 50-something divorced man with a beer gut. It was Wichita, after all.

My friend Jen (yes, yet another Jen) went with me a few days later to get another look at the place so I could create a comprehensive furniture diagram, and as we were standing by the sliding doors to the back porch, we spotted the neighbor taking out the trash.

Our jaws hit the floor like a lead weight. He was the hottest man on earth.  It took Jen and I a good 15 minutes to stop sweating. Turns out he wasn’t 57 as I’d pictured in my mind — but rather 32. I couldn’t believe my luck.

Over the course of the next months…OK, years…I dreamed up pretty much any scheme imaginable to talk to him. Of course he had a girlfriend, who lived in Ohio, who was 22. He’d met her at the gym. Duh. But despite all my schemes, I was fairly careful to not be too overt or try to bump into him very often — since everyone knows that relationships have to be the guy’s idea in order to work. And there was that tiny problem of tricking him into getting rid of the girl.

Running into him really wasn’t that hard. I think he even tried to bump into me. (On some days he’d even scrape the ice off my car. Seriously, Prince Charming.)

I’d talk about my schemes at work. One day Ed said, “I’m just going to call him ‘Meat’.”

“Why’s that?” I asked.

“Because you’re looking at him as if you’re a hungry dog.”

OK, maybe he didn’t put it quite that way. But you get the idea. I had a dear boyfriend at the time, which I suppose made this comment event worse.

From there on out, he became known to my co-workers as Mr. Meat. Which made it incredibly funny when I did him a favor and let his girlfriend shadow me at work.

 To be continued…

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