The Auction

“You have to be a little bit crazy,” was my answer to the nice woman at the auction, who asked how I had the nerve to sell all my stuff, buy a boat, quit my job and head for the Caribbean.

“That would make a great title for a book.  Is your husband an experienced boater?”  I had to admit we’d recently met, and that neither of us were experienced seafarers.

"Make sure you take lots of pictures, and keep detailed notes."  Thanks in large part to her sage advice, you're able to enjoy this now.

After the harsh reality of boat prices, $37,000 for a beauty such as King Tut was not to be believed.  Built in 1971, Hull No. 001 sounded reassuring to the Captain, but I kept remembering Dad’s advice to “buy a Wednesday-car”.

The boat was docked in Florida but the owner was dying of cancer in Denver.  Cap contacted Dan, who mailed a few color photos of the boat and included an official-looking Survey, a report of the boat’s condition top to bottom, conducted by an independent professional.  King Tut's results were stellar; but considering we were in Oregon I asked the obvious question:

"Don't you think one of us should fly down and check it out first?"

"No need, the Survey's great; and it's the best we can afford. Let's not push our luck."

A Tale of Two Men - Pt 2

The Captain

"Have you ever thought about quitting your job, buying a boat and heading for the Caribbean?"

Who hasn't?  Two-plus years following Tino's death I accepted a job in Eugene with another point of purchase firm, and the first day fell for the quality control manager.  Our meeting was reminiscent of Gone with the Wind but in reverse, for I was the one waiting at the bottom of the stairs while handsome ‘Cap’, in blue jeans and cowboy boots, sauntered down, smiled knowingly and accepted my outstretched hand.

I couldn’t help myself.  I was impressed he'd been a helicopter pilot in the service, in spite of his fear of heights. I was also jealous, for I'd taken 19-hours of flying lessons in a Cessna 150, but  my lack of depth perception made landing impossible without bouncing down the runway.  The icing on the cake:  Cap had just returned from a hiking expedition in Peru to Machu Picchu; not that I'm a hiker, mind you, but it demonstrated to me his adventurous spirit.  His constant companion was Czar, a beautiful tri-color collie.

Our first date was on a Friday night in April, to a popular Mexican restaurant.  In the lobby I learned Cap was two years my junior, which shocked me for some reason.  I was robbing the cradle, for my previous partners were all older.  We had to wait for a table; then the water; the menu; you know the routine.  We skipped the Margaritas and went straight for our favorites:  bourbon and Coke for me, and rum and orange juice for Cap.  In time, naturally, I had to go, and jumped up just as the Mariachi's approached.

"Wait, wait!" Cap entreated.

I can't, I'm so sorry, over my shoulder.  I apologized again after he explained he'd arranged for a private performance, glumly adding the musician's rendition of El Condor Pasa was very good.  I tried not to laugh at the mental image.

"Why didn't you ask them to come back in 5 minutes?"

Prologue: A Tale of Two Men, Pt. 1

Tino

Tino and I met in 1992 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, where I'd accepted a year's assignment from our company's headquarters in Manhattan.  It was pretty-heady stuff to me, for while I'd already lived in Europe for years as a military wife, I was excited to be going back thanks to my own talents and hard work. I'd moved up from an assistant for three salesmen (their "Girl") to a project manager in the production department of a point-of-purchase merchandising firm which went global. In Holland, Tino was in charge of the design department and we worked together on Fortune 500 projects.  Prior to my transfer I'd ended a too-long relationship going nowhere and I wasn't particularly interested in another, but sparks flew almost immediately.

"What kind of a name is Tino?  Are you Dutch or Italian?"

Dutch.  His mother named him after an opera singer popular at the time.  He liked my spunk, and brunettes have a certain appeal in predominantly blond cultures, thank goodness.  Tino captured my heart while showing me the sights:  impromptu trips; tilting at windmills; and he spoke four languages.

"How would you like to go to Paris after work?  Didier (from the Paris office) is having a party tonight."

Seriously? Somebody pinch me! I felt like Audrey Hepburn.  Paris was only a 4-hour drive; far less with Tino at the wheel of his Renault. The spontaneity was wonderful, until he popped the trunk outside of Didier's.

"What's that?"  I was horrified.  "You brought an overnight bag?"

"Of course.  Didn't you?"

No, not so much as a toothbrush in my over-sized purse.  I didn't realize we were spending the night rather than driving home drunk; which I'd done more than once, I'm ashamed to admit. I suddenly felt 10-years old; nothing at all like the sophisticated world-traveler I'd hoped.

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