For a few years I traveled every week for work, meeting with timeshare owners to try to help them with their timeshare problems. My favorite aspect of this job, besides the fact that I was good at it, was getting to meet all kinds of interesting people. I could probably fill an entire blog with the stories I racked up during this three year period, but John and Violet take the cake.
I don’t recall the city or state we were in, some state close to New York, but I know the restaurant was an Olive Garden, and it was during my first year with Choice Vacations, LLC. I had just recently been promoted from sales rep to manager, so I was primarily in charge of closing tables, but we were a bit overrun on this particular day, and all my reps were already sitting with clients when a handsome couple strolled through the doors, probably in their early 70s. I decided to sit with them myself and try to gauge the situation and determine if we’d be able to offer any of our services to them. It took me almost no time at all to understand that they were very happy timeshare owners, they had a low maintenance fee, and frequently came to meetings such a this for a free meal and to chat with eager salespeople. Usually I might be a tad annoyed at the obvious mooching, but it was hard to be anything but amused by John and Violet. The way they held hands, occasionally pecked each others cheeks, and gazed at each other with such pure adoration and pride–it was like watching two lovestruck teenagers.
“So how long have you two been married?” I asked, thinking for sure that this had to be a second marriage, and a relatively new one at that.
“It’s funny you ask,” Violet said, “today is actually our 35th anniversary.”
I was surprised and responded with the obvious retort that I was honored they’d chosen to spend such a special day with me, in a cheap Italian food restaurant of all places. We shared a laugh and they said they were happy that I was such a good sport about the whole thing, and that they really hadn’t put too much thought into it because they treated every day like it was an anniversary.
How could I be mad? I told them it was rare enough to meet happy timeshare owners, not to mention a couple that was so happily married. Yeah, they got a meal on us, but I supposed it was worth it for my temporary restoration in faith of the human race.
“So what is your story?” I asked. “How did you meet?”
They looked at each other with twinkles in their eyes, grinning like a couple fools.
“It’s quite a long story,” John said.
I looked around the room. No one seemed to need my attention.
“Well, I need to get something out of this,” I said. “It looks like we have time, and I’m sure it’s a good story.”
“Oh, it is,” he said, “the best one you’ll ever hear.”
Here’s my best recollection of the way he told it:
It was over 50 years ago when I first laid eyes on Violet. She was the most beautiful women I had ever seen on this earth, she looked like a movie star. I was a young man, attending law school and I had just moved to the city and started working as a paralegal in a law firm. I wasn’t as handsome as I am now, still a bit awkward looking. I hadn’t grown into these big ears yet. I knew a girl like Violet wouldn’t give me a second look, but I was in love, you see? Love at first sight, it’s a real thing. So when I first saw her standing outside a restaurant with her friends, talking and laughing, it was like an alien had possessed my body. I went straight up and cut off her friends in the middle of their conversation. I grabbed her hands and told her I had to take her out on a date. Of course, she pulled her hands away and told me to get lost. Her friends laughed. I was even more in love. I pretended to leave with my tail between my legs but I really hid around the corner. I watched her talk for a few more minutes before she hailed a cab. I grabbed the next one and followed her to her house. The next morning I was there in a friend’s car before dawn, I had to know where she went during the day. An hour or so went by before she left the house on foot and I followed her inconspicuously for 10 blocks or so to an office building, where I later found out she was working as an office assistant. I decided that there was enough distance between her home and work that I could run into her the next day without appearing suspicious. So the next morning I was innocently sitting outside a coffee shop midway when she walked by. I jumped up. ‘Fancy seeing you again’, I said, and offered to walk with her. Again, Violet told me to get lost, and this time even less politely than before. This became our routine. Almost daily I’d find a way to run into her, and began to come up with more creative ways to ask her out. I brought her gifts. (This part of the story was actually more detailed, John told me all the different ways he was stalking Violet, and I’m pretty sure my mouth was hanging open by this point) She always turned me down, but eventually it got to where she’d actually let me walk a few blocks with her. One day she revealed to me that she was actually planning on becoming a nun, and this is one reason she never gave in to my pleas for a date. She was to leave for the seminary in three weeks. She also told me she didn’t like me anyway, but I didn’t listen to that part. I was crushed about her plans. I begged her to reconsider. I told her I’d make a fantastic husband for her and she’d never have to worry about anything. She reminded me that she didn’t even like me. So I leaned in to kiss her to show her what she’d be missing. She gave in for a few seconds and it was like the world stopped spinning. Then she pushed me away and punched me right in the face. She sure had a good right hook for a girl who was about to be a nun. She screamed at me, told me to stop following her (I guess she had figured it out), and that she never wanted to see me again. She was adamant that the next time she saw me she’d call the police. Well she was still working at the office in the last few weeks before she was to leave, and I know I must sound crazy to you, but my love for her had only grown stronger. I knew without a doubt in my mind I was supposed to be with her. I wanted to respect her wishes though, so I still followed her but I kept my distance so she wouldn’t know. I tried to make it out of work early nearly every day so I could be waiting outside her office by the time she got off. I’m sure I was on the verge of getting fired from my job, but she was more important and I certainly didn’t like her walking alone in the city at night. Well one evening I was following her, maybe 30 yards or so behind, when I saw a figure come out of the shadows beside her and pull her into the alley. She screamed. I didn’t even think, I started running towards her as fast as I could. I turned into the alley and a man had her pushed against the wall. Maybe he was on drugs or something but he didn’t even hear me run up behind him and I didn’t stop to think about him having a weapon. I just hit him in the side of the head as hard as I could and beat him all the way to the ground, and I didn’t stop. I didn’t stop until I had beat him so badly you couldn’t even make out a face anymore and Violet finally succeeded in pulling me off.
“Elizabeth?” one of my reps interrupted, “Sorry to cut in, but I need your help.”
I glanced at my phone and was shocked to see it had already been about an hour. The representatives were all about to wrap up with their presentations.
“Ok, I’ll be there in just a second,” I told him, before turning desperately back to John. “Quickly, what happened? Just in case I don’t get a chance to come back before you have to leave.”
“Well,” John said, “they locked me up.”
“WHAT?! But it was self-defense! Who knows what he would’ve done to Violet–”
“I know,” he said, “and if I hadn’t beaten him to a pulp maybe it wouldn’t have looked so bad. Plus when the police were interviewing people one of Violet’s friends told them I was stalking her. So that didn’t look good. But I was only sentenced to 10 years and got off in 7. And it was the best thing that could’ve ever happened to me, because Violet came to see me every single day that she could, wrote me constantly, and as soon as I was released we got married. Now we are celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary. So you see, it was all meant to be. She’d be an old nun right now if it wasn’t for that night.”
I was really too shocked to know what to say to that, but it really was the best story I had ever heard, so I gave them a quick hug before I had to run off the table.
“Thank you,” was all I could think to say, “I’m so glad you ended up together.” And with the infatuated look they were sharing, I really meant it. Despite the rather disturbing facts that he had literally stalked her, and then killed a man, I don’t think I’ve ever seen two people who looked more in love.
Tears stung my eyes as I rushed off to help my teammates, and I was a little disappointed to see them get up to leave as I looked back over my shoulder. To this day I wish I had thought to at least get a picture since their story has been burned forever into my mind. But there was a scribbled note on a napkin when I returned later to the table to get my work supplies.
Elizabeth, never give up on the ones you love.
I don’t know if it was John or Violet who wrote it, but I took the advice to heart.