Love is blind
Blind dates never work out: everyone knows that ... except I know of one that actually did. But that’s the end of the story. The beginning started many, many years ago.
A young man owned a karate studio in a small town. For years he took joy in teaching his students what he had learned about martial arts, hard work and discipline. One day he took a small group of his best students to a local elementary school for a karate demonstration and drug prevention talk. The show was a success. So much so that other schools in the county wanted their students to hear the message also.
As the popularity of the small troop of karate students grew, so did the show. Some students broke boards, others did karate moves to music, leaping high into the air and landing in splits on the floor. Still others broke concrete blocks with sledge hammers while their instructor lay on a bed of nails, concentrating as he held the blocks on his stomach to show the discipline it took to become a third degree black belt.
At the closing of every demonstration, the young karate instructor had five pine boards held by his students. On each board the name of a drug was printed in large black letters. He spun, kicked, punched and flew through the air, and each time a board was hit, it seemed to break with ease to the cheers of the children.
The instructor paused before breaking the last board to remind the crowd of awe-stricken onlookers why they had come to school that day and the message the karate troop had tried to bring to them. Then suddenly, he jumped up high in the air, spun around, and kicked the last board held over the head of his best student standing in a chair. The board shattered and the crowd cheered as it tumbled to the gym floor.
With the show over, the instructor and his students took their bows and started to clean up. That’s when a young teacher caught the eye of the instructor, and he did what he had never done before.
He picked up half of the last board he had broken, walked over and gave it to the shy teacher without saying a word. She thanked him as she led her students out of the gym. He packed up and went back to his karate studio.
They never saw each other again. But that brief few seconds would change their lives forever.
In the years that followed, the shy teacher dated many times but never married. Every year her father asked why. Her answer was always the same, “The person I’m going to marry isn’t ready yet.”
That was the last show the karate instructor and his students ever did. Soon after, the failing economy forced the instructor to close his business that he loved and search out other employment.
He became a firefighter, serving proudly the county in which he lived. The elementary school teacher soon moved up to middle school and then, after three years, to high school. There, with her love of students and academics, she became the department chair of social studies: a bright young star rising quickly in the world of education.
She never forgot the karate instructor who came to her elementary school that day. For years she used the board that he had broken and given to her as a hall pass for her high school students. The former karate instructor, now firefighter, never thought twice about the broken board he had given away nor the shy teacher he had given it to. As fast as her star rose, his fell.
Like many, with the bad economy he lost his business, his house, and soon after, realized that he was losing his wife. A year later, he had to move out. All was not lost, though. He had lost the love of his wife, but he still had the love of their only child.
Never one to give up, a year later and with his heart mended, he was ready to try again. His older brother’s fiancée set him up on a blind date with her roommate — a teacher.
They met at a restaurant for dinner one cold October night. The small shy lady was already waiting for him when he arrived at the restaurant, sitting at a table that overlooked a waterfall. Oddly, in the light from the candle on the table, she looked faintly familiar to him.
It was not until their fifth date that they discovered both had met seven years earlier. She was the teacher he had given the board to years ago without saying a word.
They fell in love, and two years later at the base of Bridal Veil Falls, the firefighter asked the teacher to marry him. She said yes.
Many of her students past and present came to the wedding. Some were surprised to see who she was marrying. Not only were they her students, they had been his students too.
If you are alone, remember that all is not lost; someone from your past that you didn’t even speak to can come into your world and make it wonderful again.
What about the teacher, the firefighter and his only child? How are they doing now? Well, sometimes blind dates really do work out. Just ask The Wife, The Boy, or me.
[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, has been a firefighter for more than two decades and a columnist for The Citizen since 2001. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.]