Walt Staples – Real Life Romance – Part 1 of 3

Shannon here: Science Fiction author, Walt Staples shares how he met his wife. Every time you comment, your name goes in the drawing for 3 Heartsong Presents titles, including my Rodeo Dust (contemporary), A Promise Forged by Cara Putman, and Clara & the Cowboy by Erica Vetsch (both historicals). Deadline: Jan 14th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Walt:

Part 1: First Meeting by Walt Staples

When I was young and foolish (I’m older now and, admittedly, probably more foolish) I was told finding a wife isn’t all that much different from fishing—if you know what you’re looking for, you go where it’s most likely to be found. I had no interest in boozing, so the bar scene was out. I never really considered going to family get-togethers to pick up girls. And I’m a menace on the bowling alley. I did have an abiding interest in science fiction and fantasy. So, on Memorial Day Weekend of 1975, I went to a science fiction convention in Washington, DC, and met the lady who has been my bride of 35 years. 

Picking Jan out from among the other con goers was easy. If you have never attended a science fiction convention, a tip—all mortals present are in jeans and, usually, t-shirts with snappy sayings and designs. Well, most anyway. Being the old pro, I was there in my usual khakis and my good shirt, the one without the holes or food stains. Jan, on the other hand, this being her very first con, had read the word “convention” and dressed appropriately—bright canary-yellow dress. You might say she kind of stood out against the background a bit.

I watched for a few minutes and, seeing no one in attendance, slid over and rolled out my smoothest line, “Hi. My name’s Walt Staples. I thought I’d come over and talk to you a while, if you don’t mind.” Like I said–”smooth.” In spite of this, she didn’t take to her heels immediately. In fact we stood around and talked for the next four hours until I saw her to her room—yep, she went in and I stayed outside.

We spent most of the next day and evening going about the con and taking part in the activities together After watching the total eclipse of the moon that evening, we went around with a number of other interested parties and watched the mice through the plate glass windows as they played on the counters and tables in the hotel’s fast food place. Oddly, sales were off there for the rest of the weekend.

Unfortunately, tragedy awaited me the next morning. In those days, I’d hit the rack about 02:00 and my wake up call would ring at 05:00. Let me take a moment here to state that Steve, my next door neighbor at the Bachelor’s Quarters on base and the guy I roomed with at cons, was and I suppose, still is a living saint. Instead of rightly eviscerating me when the phone rang at that Godly hour, the edge of his covers would levitate, disclosing one red eye, and then quickly fall back in place when I grabbed the phone and thanked the surprised hotel operator on the other end.

A couple of hours later, the author, Issac Asimov, another early riser—if he got to bed at all, and I toured the art show. Being pretty much the only two living people at that hour, we then opened the hotel buffet. Yes, I know I’m name dropping—but he was a neat guy. I began cruising the various activity rooms a couple of hours later looking to hook up with Jan. I made a number of circuits, asking friends if they’d seen her that morning. No luck. I tried ringing her room to the point that the poor operator began dialing Jan’s room phone when she heard my voice. It was as if she’d dropped off the face of the earth, or at least the hotel.

I was mooching through the dealer’s room when Steve came by with the girl he’d met and said, magically, “Hey, Walt, Jan’s looking for you. She’s in the art show.” Teleportation is for real, because I don’t remember anything until I found her looking at a Bonnie Dalzell drawing. Seems she had been trapped by rain at church. “Church?” On a Sunday morning? What a novel idea! To say I was a backslider at the time is to give me far too much credit.

Well, since that time, I haven’t misplaced Jan on Sunday mornings. I’ve been sitting beside her in the pew for the last 36 years. This thing might get to be a habit.

About Walt: Walt Staples spent far too many years thinking the unthinkable for a living. He maintains this has had no effect on him though he admits to a predilection for collecting odd people and an inordinate thirst for Dr. Pepper. While his physical position is generally indeterminable, his heart is firmly located at 38.9N, 78.2W. His work appears in a number of online publications. He is a member of the Catholic Writers’ Guild, the Lost Genre Guild, and the Marine Corps Association, much to the chagrin of each. His blog, “Variable Credence,” resides at: http://gkfields.blogspot.com.

Come back for part 2 of Walt’s story on Jan 11th.

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