“This is Not a Date!”

It’s September, 1990 and I’ve just left a job that was eroding my soul. For several months I had shunned social interactions, so drained was I by the challenges of this job.

In the hopes of re-energizing, I called up my friend Bruce to see if he was planning to go to Bumbershoot, the annual music festival at the Seattle Center that takes place every year over Labor Day Weekend. Nick Lowe was scheduled to perform and both Bruce and I are longtime Nick Lowe fans. It would be fun to hang out with a friend.

That, at least, was my cover story.

You see, I had also been invited to attend a wedding later that month and I knew Bruce was sharing a house with Melinda. Maybe she’d like to go to the wedding with me…

“Sorry, Andy,” Bruce told me, “I won’t be in town for Bumbershoot. But let me put Melinda on the phone.”

And within minutes, not only had Melinda agreed to go to the wedding, she was interested in seeing Nick Lowe!

So here we were, the two of us, Melinda and me, walking from the Seattle Center to where I had parked my car, the concert being over. We could have stayed to see some other performers, and did in fact linger for a few minutes to hear part of Leon Redbone’s set.

Still, I was trying to be sensitive to what Melinda might want to do, including parting ways.

As we walked, making small talk, she casually made reference to her fairly new interest in horseback riding.

Turns out Melinda knew I had connections at Longacres, the racetrack just outside of Seattle, that allowed me access to where the horses were stabled. Since she’d taken up riding, she was interested in seeing thoroughbreds in training.

I asked if she’d like to head down there some time, to which her face lit up and she said, “When can we go?”

I said, “How about now?”

I think she suddenly recognized her enthusiasm to see the horses may have gotten the better of her. She’d already agreed to go to the wedding with me, we had just been to a concert together, and now she had accepted my offer to spontaneously head down to the racetrack.

Clearly, she needed to halt any ideas I might be having about this situation involving some kind of romantic activity.

“This is not a date,” she said, the tone of her voice supporting the clarity of her words.

“Um, okay,” or something equally eloquent was my response.

Of course, we were married less than four months later on December 31st, meaning today is our 30th anniversary. In those 30 years, we’ve raised two kids to adulthood, started a school, lived in France for a year, and spent pretty much every day together.

Occasionally, I’ll ask her if we’ve had a date yet.

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