Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Mike of My Own

There are very few things I am certain of in this world. I'm not certain what hair color looks best on me. I'm not certain I will ever lose those extra twenty pounds. I'm not certain my books will get published, my apartment will ever be clean or I will learn to make minute rice.

I am certain that I am supposed to marry a man named Mike.

(No pressure, right???)

This might sound crazy to you. How can someone know the name of the person they're supposed to marry? If we all knew that, wouldn't we only date people with that name? Well, that would make sense but it's not always so easy. Not everyone gets the completely trustworthy information I got from a 100% reliable source: a gypsy woman in Little Italy.

I know, I know, where else would I learn this sort of detail about my future life? Doesn't everyone get their palms read by street corner gypsies? If not, you should be! Best $5 I ever spent.

Ok, fine, the cost factor aside, here's what happened: I was walking down Hester Street in Little Italy one summer night with my boyfriend (please note, we're going back several years here.) We had just gotten hazelnut gelato at Cafe Bella Ferrara and as I'm kind of a clutz, we were not holding hands. I have the innate ability to create messes everywhere I go. Throw melty, creamy desserts into the mix and I'm a walking disaster waiting to happen. We were walking and talking and approaching this lady who was sitting at a small makeshift table on the corner of Hester and Mulberry. She smiled up at me and asked if I'd like to have my palm read. I showed her the ice cream cone and she said, "That's ok, you hold it in one hand and I'll just read the other." I was hesitant but she promised it would be quick.

Right off the bat, she astonished me. She knew about some of the crazy dreams I have and my connection to relatives who've passed. She knew the struggles of my divorce and the strain it had put on my faith. She knew how close I was with my family and how I'd already changed careers at such a young age. Basically, she was spot on about my past.

Then she looked at me kinda sideways and told me not to worry, there was love in my future as well. "Your husband's name is Mike," she said profoundly. "How do you know that?" I asked. "I can see it right here in your hand," she showed me, tracing the M with her pinky. "M for Mike."

"Any chance it could be Mark?" I questioned. (Mark being my boyfriend at the time.)

"No, it is definitely Mike," replied the gypsy calmly.

"Any chance it could be Matt?" demanded Mark. (His best friend is Matt and we've always had a flirty chemistry.)

"No. It is definitely not Mark and it is definitely not Matt. It is Mike. The man you will marry is called Mike." She said it as thought she were explaining the difference to me between black and white. This is just how the world is and that's all there is to it.

Mark stormed off down the block.

My face fell. I was confused, crushed, and now had an angry boyfriend and a melted gelato cone. "I don't know any Mike," I half-heartedly replied with my face towards the ground. She tilted my chin up towards her sparkling eyes, looking right at me with the intensity of age old wisdom. "You will," smiled the gypsy.

I paid her the five dollars and threw the remnants of my dessert in the trash. I wasn't sure which had faded faster: the ice cream in the heat of that August night, or my faith in the relationship I had with Mark that he would someday be my husband.

Fast forward two weeks and a shocking phone call later. My four best friends in the world are all sisters and I love them dearly. Cindy, the third in the bunch, called home to say she'd eloped with her boyfriend to Tennessee. She was thrilled to tell us she had married Mike. Young and in love...I remember those days. They have a beautiful little boy now, my sweet, smart, incredible nephew, whom we affectionately refer to as Baby Mike. Despite his starting pre-school this week, I will likely call him Baby Mike for the rest of his life. He's just too cute.

The oldest sister, Suzy, also surprised the hell out of the family when she met, dated, became engaged to, and married her Mike in a span of only nine months. She'd waited her entire life to meet someone like him and I have to say, he gets my vote for world's best husband any day of the week and twice on Sundays. Mike would stop the world for Suzy if he could, and I'm fairly sure he's tried on several occasions.

Then there is Kat whose best friend is called (can you guess?) Mike. They have a very strong connection and a supportive, loving relationship. There is no doubt in my mind that given the right chance at the right time, Kat and her Mike would have made a great couple. Only time will tell with those two!

The youngest of the sisters is only fourteen. I'm waiting for the day she calls me from high school to tell me about her first boyfriend who, I'm 98% certain, will be called Mike. Let's not rush her!

This sisterly bonding over Suzy's Mike / Cindy's Mike / Kat's Mike / Baby Mike left me feeling very excluded. As such, I was motivated to write the short story A Mike Of My Own (which I'm debating turning into a screenplay) about four sisters who all try to set their fifth sister up on date after date with nice guys like John, Roger, Bill, Bob, Dan, and Ken. After meeting so many men, they finally introduce her to --- who else??? --- Mike!!! Sister #5 (aka me) falls madly in love with "Mike" and they go on to live happily ever after. Except that the girls know his real name...and it isn't Mike. Did Sister #5 fall in love with the man? Or the name?

Call it my obsession with The Importance of Being Earnest if you want, but when Gwendolyn says "It has always been a girlish dream of mine to marry a man called Ernest," I know exactly to what she is referring. Of course, there are plenty of good and decent men in the world who are not called Ernest (or in my case, Mike) and I may live very well with any of them. Still, it seems to me that the only real way to prove the gypsy prophecy true or false is to find a Mike of my own and see if he is, indeed, worth marrying.

I am trying to keep my expectations low for my Leap Day date with Mike, the traveling pirate. In fact, I may begin to refer to him solely as Captain Jack Sparrow to keep those high hopes in check. It is not the name of the man I wish to fall for, rather the character of him. Let's just hope that his character is earnest!

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