This is going to be a bit different. Normally I don't talk about myself at all on this blog, but this is a story I have to tell. It's an open letter to Wil Wheaton, the actor and writer, whom I have never met, but who has had the most amazing impact on my life nevertheless.
I want to tell you a little story about you, me, and the love of my life.
I'm in my mid-fifties, and a confirmed geek. I've been divorced about six years. It was an amicable parting, and my ex and I are still good friends… but still, such an event leaves a huge gaping hole in one's heart. Losing the one that you thought you would be with until death is nearly as traumatic as death itself. It was for me, at least.
After a couple of black years during which I was barely aware of anything, I started to climb out of the dark places. I had the help of some very good friends, and a couple of very good therapists. Eventually, I realized that being alone for the rest of my life was neither predestined, nor desirable. So I started dating again.
It went about as well as could be expected for the first couple of years. Occasionally I met a woman who was intelligent, charming, and interested in a long-term relationship. And invariably, I would screw things up, and the relationship would end. But I paid attention and tried to learn from my mistakes.
Then I met Nadine. She was beautiful, well-spoken, interested in just about everything. I took things slowly — very slowly, because one of the lessons I had learned was that I had sabotaged my earlier attempts at relationships by loading them up with emotional freight before they were ready to bear the weight. Things were going great… until one day, Nadine sat me down and told me that while I was a really terrific guy, she just was not going to develop romantic feelings for me.
Well, that was hard to hear, and I won't deny that I went home and wept a few bitter tears of disappointment. But Nadine and I agreed that we enjoyed each other's company and would continue the friendship. Here's where things get interesting: We had already made plans to go to the birthday party of a friend of Nadine's, later that very day.
Under the Man Code, I would have been well within my rights to blow off the party, stay home, and wallow in self-pity. But then, like a shaft of pure golden sunlight piercing the clouds of misery, I remembered Wheaton's Law:
Don't be a dick.
I could blow off the party and my commitment to Nadine that I would go with her — that is to say, I could be a dick — or I could man up and do the right thing. I chose the Way of Wheaton.
I met Nadine at her place and she drove us to the party, and I had a really good time. And, for the second time, I met Nadine's friend Kaylee. She's about my age, really gorgeous, and we had a most enjoyable conversation in the kitchen not long before Nadine and I left the party.
So, we're driving back to Nadine's place where I left my car, and she turns to me and says: "I don't know if it's too soon to hit you with this, but… you know my friend Kaylee? She told me that she's kind of interested in you. What do you think?"
Wil, have you ever seen a dog, especially one of the larger breeds, trying to get traction on a freshly waxed floor? The legs and paws are flailing wildly, and he's just not going anywhere, right?
That was my brain for the next thirty seconds, after Nadine dropped this bombshell on me. Finally I managed to regain the power of speech, and mumbled something like "Um, err… well, I'd be lying if I said the attraction wasn't mutual…"
"Good", Nadine said. "I'll let Kaylee know."
I had Kaylee's phone number twelve hours later. I called her the next day, and our first date was two days after that. There was never any doubt that we were fiercely attracted to one another. Now it's four months later, and we are both profoundly convinced that we want this to be our last relationship.
I have absolutely no doubt that you, Wil Wheaton, are responsible for leading me to make the decision to attend that party with Nadine. I now spread the gospel of Wheaton's Law whenever I can.
Kids, when your Unca Wil tells you how the world works and how to live in it, listen to him. The man knows whereof he speaks.
Thank you, Wil.