of you have already heard it, and some of you were even there - but everyone
always loves hearing it, so here goes. It's actually a
pretty good one, with twists and turns and many "is this a movie script?"
questions asked along the way...
In 2003, as President of the Spadina Bus Association in Toronto, a
non-profit mandated to supporting and building up the King-Spadina
technology corridor, I gave an interview for The Irish Times. This was
in advance of a visit to Canada by An Tánaiste, the Deputy Prime
Minister of Ireland, Mary Harney.
result, in 2004 I received an invitation to a reception for the Irish
Corvette, L.E. NIAMH, which was making a stop in Toronto on their North
American tour. As I had already started my application to join the
Canadian Navy, I leapt at the opportunity. Eric Meerkamper, my
partner-in-crime at both Spadina Bus and D-Code, poured on the
little-boy-awed-eyes at the thought of a warship and became my 'guest'.
Unbeknownst to me, HMCS KINGSTON and HMCS GOOSE BAY were docked in Oshawa,
in the middle of a MARS IV course through the Great Lakes, of which Luc was
Chief Training Officer (CTO). They had received a number of tickets to
the reception on board the L.E. Niamh through HMCS YORK. As CO of
KINGSTON, LCdr Scott Healy (now Cdr), twisted his buddy, Luc's arm to come
with them. Luc reluctantly agreed.
reception was very well done, and Eric and I easily chatted with the
sailors. However, I quickly realized that not all of them were Irish - the
CANADA on a few shoulders was an easy giveaway! What luck - here were
a group of Canadian officers I could grill before completing my own entry
into the Forces.
the discussions, I noticed one person who stood out. Not just his
height, but his presence. Without saying much at all - you couldn't help but
notice him. (The shiny bald head didn't hurt either!) But then,
after what I thought was a promising chat, he suddenly disappeared. Ah
well, I thought, so much for that.
little while later, Lt(N) Serge Sabourin offered to get me another drink,
but then asked if my husband was getting me one. Husband?!? I
realized he was talking about Eric, and laughed as I told them he was just a
co-worker, one with a wife who was 7-months pregnant with their second
child! Serge's "Ah..." made me raise an eyebrow, but the
conversation continued and I forgot about it.
that night after a tour of the ship, a few guests were invited to stay and
continue 'partaking of Irish hospitality' (read: DRINK!) in the messes.
Eric and I had chatted up so many Canadians and Irish we were included.
While reading the posting board in the Chief & Petty Officer's Mess, Luc
approached me. This was the first time I had seen him since his sudden
disappearance earlier that evening. What I didn't know was that in the
meantime, Serge's newfound knowledge that Eric was not in fact my husband
had made its way to Luc. Thus his re-interest...
proceeded to chat me up, very well I thought at first. Then the tides
turned. To set the stage, I was the designated driver so was on a
steady vibe of ginger ale. Luc on the other hand, had been roped into
the Guinness for a while now. As we learned more about each other, he
made a comment that my tendency to change jobs every 2-3 years symbolized an
issue with commitment.
What?!? This was his pick-up line? Then he compounded it by
reassuring me that this was OK, since he could admit that he had an issue
with commitment as well - in fact he had ended a relationship with an ex
because of it. Somehow I managed to not slap him then and there, and
let him try to 'explain' what he meant.
Cosmo and Glamour would never recommend an insult as a way to charm a girl,
and don't ask me how this worked, but it did. We continued to chat and
when a group of us headed to The Irish Embassy (a bar) to keep the fun
going, Eric ended up in the minivan with Scott et al, and Luc ended up with
closed The Irish Embassy down that night, but Luc and I didn't want the
night to end, so headed off to 7 West, an all-night restaurant. Being
after 2am, our options were limited, so we had tea. Now no one
believes this, but its actually true!
Finally, we had to end the night. Now I knew Oshawa was a ways outside
of the downtown core, so a taxi would be a stupid amount of money for him to
spend. So I offered to drive him myself. Little did I know
exactly how far it was...nor did Luc tell me he didn't actually know where
the ships were docked. Somehow we made it.
this point, the sun is rising. Luc tells me he had a great time, we
make plans to see each other when the ships are back in town in 2 weeks for
their own reception, and he proceeds to lean over, kiss me on both cheeks,
get out of the car, place his pea cap on his head and walk away.
on the cheek? Luckily, he made up for it two weeks later when we spent
a fabulous weekend in Toronto after the Canadian ships reception (this time
Hollis was my partner-in-crime and the RED DRESS story started). This lead
to many whirlwind weekends in our cross-country romance: Quebec City,
Vancouver, Victoria, Halifax, San Francisco, Seattle - as well as vacations
in Italy, Mexico, England and Spain.
top all of this? I am sure we will manage it...