If you missed the first segment of this story click here.
Before I tell you about our dinner I have to give you some pertinent background information. For the sake of anonymity on the part of some of the people in the story, from here on out the "nice, young man" will be Paul and the "nice, young lady" will be Jane. Now that we have that out of the way, let's get on with the story.
As I mentioned before, on the night of my dinner with Mark, my relationship with Paul had been over for about a month. Paul was a really good guy who many people liked. We had met at church and though I didn't know him well when he asked me out, I knew that he was basically revered and I was honored that he wanted to date ME. Paul was also an elementary teacher. He seemed to love his job and I loved that about him. We had a few other things in common, but we had a lot more things that conflicted. One of the big ones was that my sarcasm, part of my sense of humor, offended him. I could go on and on about the lack of commonalities, but this story is not about him. It took me quite a few months to truly let it sink into my head that we weren't compatible. For some reason I really wanted to see it work out. Maybe it was because so many other people thought he was so great, which like I said, he was...just not for me. So, I ended things with Paul and broke his tender heart.
As for Jane, she and I had also become friends at church. About ten months before my dinner with Mark, he had started coming to our church and attended a coffeehouse fundraiser that Jane and I were involved in. She noticed him and struck up a flirty conversation. At the end of the night she was telling me all about him. I hadn't noticed him, so a couple weeks later when we were both singing/playing music at church she pointed him out to me. I remember thinking he looked so young, like a teenager, but was cute in that way. Well, Jane decided to make it her mission to date Mark. She invited him to every get together and even invented occasions for that purpose. He quickly realized what she was up to and told her that he thought she was a nice girl, but he wasn't interested in dating her or anyone else at that time. Mark explained that he had only been divorced for a few months and was not planning on dating for awhile. Jane was fine with just hanging out and continued to pursue his "friendship" thinking time would change that status. Eventually, I started dating Paul and the four of us, or sometimes with others, would do things together. That is how I really started to get to know Mark. We shared a similar sense of humor, and though I wasn't really paying attention to it, I typically had more fun when he was around. One night Jane told me that she was sure that she and Mark would start officially dating soon and that they got along so well they would likely be engaged or married by the next summer. Woah! I was only ever getting her side of the story, so I just assumed that their feelings were mutual and they were basically dating already. Unfortunately for Jane, she was far more involved in the relationship than Mark was. Fortunately for Mark, there was one girl who knew both of them well and finally told him the kind of plans that Jane was discussing. It was at that point that Mark had to "break-up" with someone he wasn't even dating. However, he must have been too nice because she didn't get it and he had to "break-up" with her again a couple weeks later. She was distraught and often called me crying in dismay over how things had gone so wrong. They had never held hands, kissed, or had any other romantic interactions, but because he had spent time with her and accepted her invitations to do things, she thought they were more connected than they were.
She shared her heartbreak with many other friends. One of those friends just happened to be dropping something off at my apartment when Mark pulled into my driveway that night for our impromptu dinner. Jane had just left on a trip to Germany a couple days before and it did not look good that I, her friend, had her heartbreaker in my driveway. She gave me a questioning look and said, "What is HE doing here?" That is when the drama began.
to be continued