Her name was Alice but everyone knew her as Baby. She reminded you of a baby bird: she was so tiny as to have been considered scrawny. My father-in-law, an old friend of hers from childhood, called her Runty.
But for all her five-foot-nothing, 95 pound size, she was anything but runty. She was married to a cantankerous former star athlete and her three sons were total hellions but no one ever questioned who was the boss of that outfit.
And if it weren’t for her I wouldn’t be married to the love of my life. But if she’d had her way, even that might not have happened.
I was at the beach club one weekend with my best friend Linda and her baby. Baby was there, and we stopped to chat for awhile. Little did I know B was lurking nearby, checking me out. Baby and I were standing near the drinking fountain and he wandered over on the pretense of getting a drink, so Baby called him over for introductions. I vaguely remembered him from high school, thought he was kind of cute, but other than that didn’t give the whole thing much more thought.
A week or two later I ran into Baby again; she worked with my mom at the school B and I had both attended and I was there for a visit with my mom. She mentioned that B had said he’d sort of liked what he’d seen of me at the beach and wondered if I was available. Even though I wasn’t looking for anything serious at the time, I was certainly available, so I told her, “Sure, give him my number and have him call me!”
Only she didn’t.
You see, Baby knew that at that point I was already three years out of grad school, living on my own with a somewhat established job and social life. B, on the other hand, had fairly recently moved home from the Mainland after college and a brief post-graduation job — in Baby’s mind, still a bit too young/inexperienced/innocent for the likes of me. So giving him my number was something she just couldn’t bring herself to do.
But she kept that opinion to herself; or at least, from me. So I was left to wonder why a couple weeks went by and I never heard from the guy. It wasn’t just that he hadn’t gotten my number from her; he also, back in those days, had a bit of a shyness issue. Bad combination. And as it happened, as time went on I felt myself growing more interested in him.
So in the end I took matters into my own hands and went and found him one afternoon when he was coaching soccer practice. We set a date to go to the beach a couple days later, and the rest, as they say, is history. Eventually he let on that Baby had said I was “too old” for him; eventually (well, pretty quickly, actually) I forgave her for that. How could I not? Even though she’d been reluctant about it, she set me up with the man of my dreams. But I don’t think I ever stopped giving her a hard time about it.