Looking down at the gift wrapped in heart-patterned paper, I smiled and held back tears. How many times would I find myself on Valentine’s Day opening yet another gift from Mom, but not one from a beau?
I fastened the heart-shaped brooch from Mom to my lapel before leaving for work. Then I kissed her goodbye and joked, “I hope you have a lot of money. You’re going to be stuck buying Valentine’s gifts for me till the end of time.”
“No, I won’t,” she said. “Your Prince Charming awaits. You just haven’t noticed him yet. Make sure you’re not wearing that sourpuss look on your face when he arrives.”
Months passed with no sighting of my Prince Charming. At least I hadn’t seen him at Wanamaker’s department store, where I worked as a secretary.
I often joked about my lackluster social life to co-workers. One day, as a friend and I rode a crowded store elevator, she announced, “Everyone, meet Annie. She’s a whole lot of fun waiting to happen.” With that she got off on her floor and the elevator doors clapped shut. I turned scarlet.
A few days later my elevator stopped on the sixth floor and a young man named Joe stepped on. He looked at me and said, “Hi, Annie. I’ll bet you’re a lot of fun.”
I laughed and said, “Oh, I guess you heard the announcement.”
Our conversation ended there, but that wasn’t the last I saw of Joe. He started sitting at my lunch table. Each day he moved one seat closer to me, until one day, just after lunch, he asked me if I would go out with him. I smiled and nodded yes.
For our first date, I wore a polka-dot sundress with a pink ribbon in my hair. I packed a picnic lunch for us to share, and later that evening we went to the movies.
Just as Mom predicted, I’d found my Prince Charming. Joe and I have been married for 30 years now, and he still remembers what I wore on our first date.
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