THE SEIGE OF EMAILS
My dad vacillated between indifference and open hostility, and Erica was steadfast and unwavering in her belief that my dad was the one true love of her life, end of story. So total was her belief in the romance that was not happening that she resolved to maintain contact with him by whatever means necessary - even to the point of causing that incipient hostility my dad was cultivating to become open and volatile. She believed, and she was not a woman to be gainsaid.
Of course, I could say nothing to him about his refusal to see her again, and I could say nothing to her about her unwillingness to abandon the idea. If I asked my dad about her, he said, "I did as you requested. I had lunch. Now let me be." If I asked her about him, she said, "I am praying for him to come around. I am certain that he will."
I moved to New York and worked on my PhD. All the while, I knew that Erica was emailing my dad and that my dad was ignoring most of her emails and that when he answered, he did so only because he felt that it would be abominably rude not to do so. This made things awkward with my boss, let me tell you. It's one thing to have girl talk with your boss - all well and good - but girl talk with your boss that is also about your father? Talk about awkward. However, she was sure he was 'the one' and that he would eventually see things her way.
I am getting to the part about the cowboys.
A few months after I left for New York, I got an emotional phone call from my dad. His effusiveness, on this occasion, about how much he loved me and so forth, was unusual. I asked him what was wrong, and he told me that two people he hardly knew, his neighbors in South Carolina, had died in a motorcycle accident. They were both in their fifties and just retired and BLAM! gone. It had just, well, made him sad.
I wondered what effect this might have on his policy toward Erica. I asked him. He said, "Women are trouble. I just want to go fishing and read my books."
"OK," I said. I told Erica the story about the motorcycle accident.
Then I asked Erica, "Any progress with my dad?"
"Maybe," said she. "I have a new plan. I'll let you know."
A few days later, Erica sent my dad an email that is now infamous. It read:
For over a year I have made it pretty plain that I want to be a part of your life, and you have rebuffed me. The story about the people who died in the motorcycle crash has convinced me that it's time for me to move on with my life.
The opportunity to be with me is passing you by unless you act now. I can't wait any longer.
THE DATE THAT NEVER HAPPENED
Poor dad. He never had a chance, really.
He received this email and saw that Erica, a woman he thought would love him from afar forever, was prepared to leave him if he did not act, if he did not "cowboy-up."
He called and asked her if he could take her to a movie. He drove to her house. From the way Erica tells it, he got out of the car and she walked out to meet him. In the front yard, they kissed for the first time. She burst into tears and said, "I love you."
My dad's response to this was, "Oh, good. Let's get married."
Three months later, they got married and he moved into her house. Three months after that, they moved into his weekend house in South Carolina. Right now, I am sitting in my father's armchair drinking coffee from that 'Bandera, Texas' coffee mug, and my dad and Erica are sitting at the kitchen table holding hands on one side and sorting the mail on the other. If you ask either of them what they think of dateless courtship, they will both say, "Why date when you can just cowboy-up?"
End, part the third.
(There no real cowboys in this story. Sorry I misled you).