by Erin Brown
“Hello, may I speak to Erin?” I hear in a booming voice.
“Yes this is she.”
“Hello Erin, my name is Frank and your mom was kind enough to share your number with my mom.”
“Oh yeah, hi.”
That morning after church, my mom was approached by a sobbing woman who asked her to pray for her son. Of course mom agreed to pray and asked what was wrong with him.
That’s when somehow my number was given to this woman of sorrow.
“Is this your own number?”
“Um, yeah – I don’t have any roommates, if that’s what you mean.”
“Gee, that is so cool. I have two and we share the same line.”
“Oh well, with cell phones you don’t even really need a Lan line.”
“Yeah, I don’t have a cell, I’m pretty certain they are going to be a short-lived phase. Anyway, I head you’re an Eagle like me!”
See the reason my mom gave up my number instead of any of her other 3 single daughters was b/c Frank and I were both Boston College alums. The Eagle is BC’s Mascot.
“Yeah, I graduated a few years ago.”
“I graduated more than a few years ago, one of the few men w/ an Education degree.”
Though he didn’t sound like my type, we decided to meet the following weekend. It was Easter and I would be home with my family in New Jersey so we could meet around there.
Saturday night while I was trying to choose and outfit for the “big event”, my mom tells me to just throw on anything.
“Anything? Don’t you want the date to go well?”
“Yes, of course but no need to stress out.”
“What are you hiding behind your back?”
She reveals a picture – a school photo of Frank – at his job.
“Are you kidding me?? I am not going out with that goon!”
Frank was more beastly than princely. His head was the size of 3 footballs, he was prematurely balding and clearly he never met an orthodontist.
“Sorry honey, it all happened so fast, his mother was so insistent. He sounds normal.”
“Normal? The guy doesn’t even have a cell phone and he’s wearing a Santa Clause tie!”
The doorbell rings. My brother, who is also at my parent’s house that evening along with his wife and 2 kids, answers the door. We peek downstairs. My brother is six-foot-four. I have never seen him look up at anyone, until this moment. I hear a large voice coming out a big head, “Hello, my name is Frank. I am here to court Ms. Erin.”
My brother looks up at the six-foot-seven giant, smirks, and shouts, “Ms. Erin, your date has arrived.”
I cannot even go down the stairs. Mom goes first.
“Oh hi Frank. Wow, your mom mentioned you were tall, didn’t realized you could have played for the NBA. Erin will be down in a minute.”
I throw on an old gray sweater and head to meet Frankenstein.
“Hello Erin, that’s a lovely sweater.”
“Thanks, Gap 5 years ago. Let’s go”
Suddenly, I was seventeen years old. I was getting picked up for a pity date and my entire family was there to witness and enjoy it. As I’m rolling my eyes behind the giant Mom says, “Why don’t you introduce him to everyone else?”
We enter the family room “Dad, Frank, Frank Dad.” My dad smiles and is laughing on the inside and I can tell he feels bad for the guy and me. My dad had the uncanny ability to know in less than 5 minutes whether or not a guy was right for his daughter. From his expression I knew his rating - this guy was a train-wreck.
On to the living room where my 4 and 5 year old niece and nephew are playing. They cannot stop staring at Frank’s noggin. My nephew says, “You’re head is bigger than my dads.”
Frank chuckles like the Jolly Green Giant. “Ho, Ho, Son God just blessed me with extra brains.”
Then he looks at my niece, who’s never shy, and tries to endearingly shake her hand while yelping “Hello Little One!.” She runs as fast as she can screaming for her mom.
“Mrs. Brown, you’ve got a lovely daughter.” She’s never heard that one before.
Frank opens doors, he’s a gentle giant. He’s like Shrek.
“Are you ready for a pub crawl?”
Pub crawl? The last time I did that was in college, but at that point I needed a drink.
It was the same pattern at each bar- Shrek says, “I feel like I’m back on campus!” He then ducks inside the bar and orders 2 Natty Light, “just like college.”
“Wow you’re really into re-living college; it’s been like 20 years for you.”
“17 and a half actually”
The conversation centers on BC, Beer, and the Bible – specifically his favorite the Beatitudes – “Blessed are the Merciful.” He reminds me that it’s Holy Saturday. Rather than having a CCD class, I was more interested in learning how he deals with such an enormous skull.
As I’m about to ask, a guy walks up to Frank. It was a friend of his from H.S. I’m trying to hide behind the head when the guy looks at me and says, “Is this your girlfriend?”
Immediately, I say “NO, we just met. Our moms are friends.”
He chimes in, “Yeah, isn’t it wonderful? The lord sent me a gift through the connection of our holy moms.”
Natty Lite practically shoots out of my nose. I want to beg his friend to save me from the nightmare, but instead I smile and say, “Frank and I are having a really nice time.”
I feel guilty. Frank isn’t so bad. A freak definitely, but there was no reason not to be cordial and let him have a nice evening especially after he had just gotten his heart broken by his ex-fiancé. Apparently, her mother over-bearing. Wonder if her mom stood outside churches crying and gathering phone numbers. I decide to have one more beer before calling it a night. It could be worse.
Just then it got worse. Frank says, “You my dear deserve a treat.” He gets up on his bar stool and hunches over and starts shouting the BC fight song, trying to get the crowd to join in. “FOR BOSTON, FOR BOSTON…”
If that’s not embarrassing enough he starts unbuttoning his blue oxford to reveal his skinny pale chest (oh yeah he’s super thin, so he looks like a giant piece of string cheese.). On his chest is a tattoo of a cross and an Eagle in Maroon and gold, BC’s colors. Okay, this is fa-reaking me out, “Let’s go”.
I run to the car. He follows. “Please take me home”.
“Wow, wasn’t that just the greatest!?”
“Um, yeah whatever, let’s go”.
On the way home he pulls into a middle school parking lot. Before I get the words “what the hell are you doing” out of my mouth he lands the sloppiest of sloppy kisses on me- we’re talking my mouth completely shut, his wide open filled with beer slobber. I was being attacked by a St. Bernard. I shove him off.
“I’m sorry I just couldn’t control myself”
“Yeah, well God isn’t going to be happy with your behavior. Get me home or I’m taking a taxi.”
He drops me off I run out of the car as he is still talking about how sorry he is and how this night was such a blessing and how he cannot wait to see me again….
Easter morning he calls, I let it go straight to voicemail. “Hello Erin. Thank you for a magical night. I hope you and your family are having a blessed Easter. I’d like to take you out to dinner this week in the big city.
Please call me. God Bless.”
Later that week I call him back just to politely inform him that this isn’t going to happen. A woman picks up the phone, “Hello?”
“Oh hi is Frank there?”
“No he’s teaching.” Of course he was, it was 11:00 am on a Tuesday, I wasn’t about to call when he was home.
“Oh right. Well you must be his roommate, I’d appreciate if you could give him a message.”
“Surely, I heard you two really hit it off. I’m so glad I met your mom at church.”
“Yes, the lovely lady who gave me your number for my son.”
“You live with Frank?”
“Well, Frank lives with us – his dad and me.”
“Ohhh.” Wow that explains a lot.
“He’s very close with us. He’s a special boy. If my husband or I had stayed in the church Frankie never would have been conceived.”
“Huh? Are you saying you were a nun and Frank’s dad was a priest?”
“Mmhmm. Now what was the message you wanted to leave for him?”
“Um, tell him Thank you for a nice evening and I’m moving to California.”
“That’s all. Bye.”
I immediately call my mom, and as I am telling the story her she gets another call. “Hold on one sec Er. (clicks over) Hello?”
“Did you hear what happened?”
“I’m sorry who is this?”
“Frank’s mom. Your daughter told him she’s moving. She cannot treat my Frankie like that.”
At that time I really wasn’t moving to CA, but Mom says, “Yes actually Erin is moving tomorrow and so are we. By the way, my number is unlisted, how did you get it?”
“I thought I got it through the Lord.”
“Okay, well good bye.”
“But wait, don’t you think this is blasphemy? Your daughter cannot turn down her St. Joseph!”
“God works in mysterious ways”, my mom says. She clicks back to me and in the spirit of Frank we share a giant laugh.