With our departure slowly approaching and my research and preparation succumbing to my ever present procrastination, I decided that a sweet story about how our lives came together might be a good departure from the norm.
I met Wendy when she was attending Motorcycle Mechanics Institute in Phoenix, Arizona. She was the lab partner of Eric, my best friend from high school. I was working in Hollywood and would spend long weekends and chunks of time between gigs hanging out in Phoenix with Eric. Wendy, having found that MMIs had a distinct lack of appropriate student housing for female students, pulled together a handful of like-minded roommates and rented a huge house in the ‘burbs. It didn’t take long to turn that once-retirement-home into a world-class biker flophouse. Eric and I would routinely find ourselves at the “bikehouse” for gatherings; early on I found myself infatuated with this woman who could hang with the boys and rebuild a four bank carburetor in the kitchen sink. I repeatedly asked my buddy, “What’s up with your friend Wendy?” I would get a shoulder shrug and a simple “I dunna know.” So being a chubby schlub with a Casanova factor of -3, and less game than the JV basketball team at a STEM magnet school, I never made a move or even tried to get close to this angel.
When graduation came and Wendy and Eric’s class graduated, they went their separate ways I wrote her off as yet another missed opportunity. It was a few years later that our paths would cross again when Eric got married and we all gathered for the joyous events. That week was a whirlwind of chaos that’s best served in another blog, but it led to us writing letters and calling cross country on an increasingly frequent basis. Come to find out that Wendy had been asking Eric the same question I had, “What’s up with your friend Mike?” Captain obvious could have saved us both a bunch of lost time by just putting two and two together, but I digress. A few months later Wendy was planning a trip to California to visit her family and invited me to join them for Thanksgiving dinner. We had a fantastic time and I think we would both attest that it was that event that put our paths on the same course.
(Endearing but Slightly Creepy Note from Wendy: The day after Mike joined us for Thanksgiving, and long before we ever went on our first date, my mom bought a card congratulating us on our engagement. She was right, as it turns out, which is good because it would’ve been extra creepy if she’d been wrong…)
With a few more trips to visit family (and me, of course) Wendy found herself looking to relocate from rural Georgia to somewhere a bit closer to Hollywood. She chose a new gig in the central coast town of Pismo Beach – close enough to Southern California without being too close. I found myself making weekend tips up the coast to visit this amazing lady. Wendy was now working for the largest ATV and motorcycle rental business on the west coast, and one of the negative side affects of a tourist business is having to work weekends. If I wanted to spend time with her, I had to volunteer my weekends in the shop. Wendy and I would spend our days fixing all the damaged vehicles that came back off the beach and would spend our evenings falling in love with each other.
It was about a year before I decided that this wonderful person was the only one I wanted to spend my life with. But how was I to win over such a prize? No simple engagement ring was sufficient for the task, so I set out to find to only ring that was appropriate for such an occasion: The key ring of the elusive 2005 Yamaha FJR1300. You see, at that time the FJR was so new that each dealership was only allotted 2 bikes and they were only available on a pre-order basis. I sat down and called every single Yamaha dealer west of the Rockies looking for just one of the limited edition bikes. I came up against dead ends at every turn. In desperation I called my buddy Eric at work, who was now employed at the Yamaha dealership in our home town of Rapid City, SD. I started to tell him my tale of woe, but he stopped me mid-story and told me to hang on a second; when Eric returned he told me that a customer had put a down payment on both of his employers allotted FJRs, but had just backed out of his deal on both bikes.
I was ecstatic! I had only been trying to find a single bike to present to Wendy, but the prospect of getting a matched pair put me over the moon. I immediately called my home town credit union, arranged the financing, and had the loan officer deliver the check to the dealership that day (those are the perks of small town banking). A few months later the bikes arrived at the dealership in South Dakota. I made arrangements to have them shipped to a movie lot where I was working in California so I would have some time to orchestrate the perfect proposal. As The Big Date approached, I made arrangements with a lovely hotel and restaurant, just blocks from Wendy’s beach house and right on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. They allowed me to sneak the bikes in early and, with the help of my friend Other Mike, we staged them near the hotel’s ocean overlook.
As a ruse I told Wendy that we were taking Other Mike and his wife Melinda out to dinner. After a tasty meal I suggested that we go down to the overlook for a view. Unfortunately the fog had started to come in and it was getting chilly. Melinda (who was not in on the ruse) and Other Mike joined us as we walked to the beach. It only took a few minutes before the fog and cold got to Melinda and she started grumbling and complaining; meanwhile, Other Mike was doing his level best to try and put the quiet kibosh on her fussing, knowing she’d probably be pretty excited to witness what was in the works. When we finally got to the overlook I popped the question and presented Wendy with an oversized ring box. In the box was a modest engagement ring; as she pulled out the ring, the box’s insert came out along with it revealing the key ring hanging underneath. I did my best Vanna White hand movement to reveal the two bikes hidden nearby. Wendy was flabbergasted! She knew how rare those bikes were and how hard I must have worked to get them. That sealed it and we’ve been together ever since. Incidentally, Melinda darn near fainted with swoons and both Mikes got to revel in smuggery.
Well, there it is. I’ve been following this amazing woman/certifiable wack-a-doo all over North America perusing adventure. Now we are gearing up to expand horizons to South America and I couldn’t be happier. If you enjoyed this, stay tuned because this Thursday’s #ThrowBackTravel will take you along on our honeymoon ride beyond the Arctic Circle!