Huddled under a grungy blanket, a threat of rain in the air, and a stomach complaining about a wolfed-down can of beans, Betty regretted where being “interesting” had gotten her. Across from her, looking as pleased as a lottery winner, Trevor grinned at the stars through the open window. “Who would ever have dreamed I’d meet my soul mate at a party of losers?”
Who indeed, thought Betty, who blamed her friend Tanya for getting her into this fix? A month earlier, she and Tanya had been sitting (toasty and odor free) in their favorite back booth at Sprinklers. They were savoring their Red Rose tea when her friend floated the idea that set her on a downward spiral.
Betty had been musing about what soup she’d have for supper that night when Tanya’s suggestion set her considering more profound thoughts. In response to her complaint that it was hard to attract and keep interesting guys, her friend had advised.
“It’s ‘cause you’re too normal. You need a special quirk. Who wants someone who’s perfect?”
“I do,” Betty had replied. “I’m looking for a regular, down to earth guy: good paying job, not married, wants a small family, handsome and romantic.”
“There’s another of your problems. You should be looking for someone who is interesting but not perfect. Some tiny transgression, some sin from the past, some strange hobby or interest or obsession.
“I like you because we’ve friends for years,” continued Tanya, “But when guys meet you, they probably dismiss you as too predictable.”
“Predictable?” Betty scoffed, “Who knows what soup I might have tonight: mushroom or tomato?”
“But not buffalo,” her friend had said making Betty wonder if there even was such a thing.
On her walk home—through the park as usual—Betty came up blank when she tried to think of some past transgression. She had always lived by the book and kept herself out of harm’s way.
“What would be an unusual hobby or obsession,” she’d asked Tanya, wondering if lawn bowling would qualify.
“It should be close to the wire,” Tanya had insisted, “But not illegal or dangerous.”
At a party two nights later, Betty had spied a shy guy hidden in the corner. Her mind was still on the knitting book she’d noticed on her friend’s table. The cover showed a couple of contented looking sheep (rather a sheep than a chicken, she’d thought). She had wondered if there were still shepherds.
Raising herself to full 5’3” height, Betty sailed towards a possible prospect. Soon she and the shy man, Trevor, were snug in the corner, grabbing hors d’oeuvres as they went past. He had confided that he was single, had a good paying job and had split with his last girl friend when she had lied to him. “Friends said it was a white lie but whatever color I hate liars. My dad was the worst. I only want honest people in my life and someday,” he blushed “as my wife.”
“So do I,” chirped Betty.
I’m in the money, she thought. Here was an employed good-looking single guy with a shy smile who wanted a family and wouldn’t cheat on her. But suddenly in her moment of bliss, as she described her job, she noticed Trevor ’s attention drifting away.
Remembering Tanya’s advice and the sheep on the knitting book cover, Betty blurted. “I’m a bank teller but I always wanted to be a shepherd.”
Trevor gasped and grabbed her in his arms. Concern about her spilled drink was overshadowed by Trevor’s joyous smile. “You did. How wonderful, so did I. We’re soul mates.”
“Of course, I had to give up that dream,” she sighed startled by his response.
“Never too late,” he cried, “You can still do it. Together we can. Let’s get out of here. Grab a coffee and check on the Internet.”
“Sure a coffee,” she said, wondering where this was going.
“My uncle has a few acres in the Interior,” Trevor said, pulling her behind him. “I’ve saved a bit of money. Let’s find where we could get a few sheep. Shepherd entrepreneurs.”
Suddenly everything was moving, and quickly. The call to the Uncle—rousted from bed—ended up with the old man’s refrain “Have you been drinking” and finally “Call me at 7 a.m. tomorrow if you’re really interested.” And here she was four weeks later.
Sure Trevor was handsome, exuberant, full of compliments: “I knew immediately you were an animal lover and an entrepreneur,” he had enthused “And gorgeous to boot.”
Surely a dilapidated cabin and five sheep wasn’t what they meant by the term entrepreneur Betty thought pulling her damp sweater over her nose to stifle the overpowering reek of damp sheep.
“Of course we don’t need to spend our whole life doing this,” Betty suggested worried how she was going to pay off the loan her mother had given her to take auditing courses at the local community college not to buy the hind end of a ewe! Never for one moment had she dared risk all by confessing to Mr. Hates Liars that she had been…well putting it bluntly “lying.”
“Don’t have to but love to,” Trevor crowed. “I’m only sorry we have only one life,” he cried, and hugged her to him, taking a deep breath as he leaned against her, “How wonderful you smell,” he crooned, “But you’re right, we should have a side-line.”
“A side-line,” she said, hope soaring,
“Yes sheep by-products, like sheep soap and perfume: a line of goods like movie stars have.” Trevor stretched his arms to the sides, engulfing her. “What a lucky day when we met. How could I guess I’d meet such a truthful and loving woman like you? Sexy and smart and a fellow sheep lover.”
“Yeah, how could you guess?” Betty said wondering how you could make sheep perfume and, if you did, who’d buy it.
~ Melodie Corrigall
Chronicle May 2017