Eyes For You
Freddie Gallagher strolled into the Blue County Eye Center to pick up his new glasses in the Optical Center section. He had gone through the dog and pony show a few weeks earlier of getting his eyes tested and his prescription upgraded, picking out a new pair of frames that were now ready.
Seated in the waiting area, Freddie didn't pay attention to who was seated behind the service desk until she waved him to the chair in front of her. He kept looking at her knowing he knew her from somewhere.
"Hello, Freddie," she said with an amused look on her face.
"Wendy?" He guessed.
She laughed. "Thanks for remembering."
"You remembered me," he said with appreciation.
"Well, I saw your name first," she admitted as she pulled out a glasses case from a box on the counter behind her. "I'm the one who called and left the message for you to come in today."
"Why today?" Freddie asked.
"Because I'm working today!" Wendy grinned.
He smiled. "Thanks," he said. "It's really nice to see you again."
"It's been a while."
"How are you?"
"Old," she sighed, rolling her eyes.
"You're younger than me!" Freddie laughed.
"That just means you're even older!" She took his glasses out of the case and motioned for him to take off his older pair. "You don't wear contacts?" She asked with interest.
"To much of a hassle for me," Freddie admitted as he removed the old pair of glasses from his face. "I guess I'm old fashioned."
Wendy cleaned the news glasses before setting them on his nose and adjusting them slightly. She got a fancy ruler measurement thing out of her drawer and held it to his nose and forehead to make sure the frames were even and proper.
"How do they feel?" She asked.
"Fine," Freddie replied. "How do they look?"
Wendy stared into his eyes and sighed. "Wonderful," she said.
He returned the stare and a few moments passed before they both broke the trance.
Wendy took Freddie's old pair of glasses and put them in the case for him, handing them to him. "That will be $342," she said.
Freddie pulled his wallet from his khakis and fished out his credit card. "I didn't realize you worked here," he said.
"Started a couple of months ago," she said, taking his card and running it through the machine on her desk.
"You married an Ophthalmologist if I recall correctly."
"And when you work with your husband sharing his practice and then he decides to leave you, you lose your job," she explained.
"Sorry," Freddie replied with sympathy. "My wife told me she was going outside to move her car," he said. "I thought she meant into the shade but she meant California."
"Any children?" Wendy asked.
"Two, both out on their own," Freddie replied.
"Me too," Wendy said. "The ex bought me out of the practice and the house. I'm at the Field of Green Condos."
"I stayed in Hillsboro," Freddie revealed. "A house on Holly Avenue."
"That's nice," Wendy said, handing him back his card and the receipt which he signed and returned to her. She slid the glasses case across the table. "Thank you for patronizing Blue County Eye Center," she said.
"You could have waited for an off day to have me called," Freddie told her.
"Why would I want to do that?" She asked.
"To avoid this," he sighed.
"I couldn't resist," Wendy admitted.
"It's been a long time, Wendy."
"You rejected me once," he reminded her. "I don't think I can take it again."
She looked hard into his eyes. "I wouldn't reject you a second time," she said quietly.
"You mean I can finally call you?"
She blushed slightly, took one of her business cards out of the holder at the edge of the desk, and she wrote down her personal cell phone number on the back. "My mother won't hang up on you this time, I promise," she said as she handed him the card.
"So, thirty years later, I'm finally getting a date with Wendy Landry?"
"Wendy Martin now," she clarified. "Although I probably should go back to my maiden name."
"You still look the same," Freddie told her.
"Oh, please," she groaned. "I'm older now than my mother was when she banned you from seeing me."
"How's she doing?" Freddie asked.
"I need to be doing my job, Freddie," Wendy said. "Call me. We'll go out sometime and talk."
"Sounds like a deal," Freddie grinned as he stood, sticking her business card in his pocket. "I sure am glad I decided to get my glasses here."
"And I'm glad I saw your name on the ready for pick up sheet," Wendy said.
"Thanks for calling."
Freddie marveled at how great Wendy looked. Her hair was still blond (although not as light or long). She was wearing brown framed glasses (his were wire-rimmed). Her face was a little fuller than she was at sweet sixteen and when she stood to wish him a good day he could see that she had put on a few pounds around the stomach and hips but she was forty-six now and such things should be expected.
Freddie wondered what she was thinking about him. His hair had thinned and faded, his goatee was graying, he put on a few pounds from his high school athletic glory days, and he was probably looking at knee replacement surgery in another couple of years.
Would Wendy think of him as a loser because his wife left him? Would she decide maybe getting together after thirty-years wasn't such a good idea after all? Would he discover that his fantasy romance love affair was more of an idea then a reality? What would happen if it turned out they had nothing in common and couldn't stand each other after a thirty year wait?
"Freddie." Wendy's voice brought him out of his thoughts. "People are waiting," she said awkwardly, motioning to the row of chairs along the far wall. "Roxanne doesn't come in until ten so I'm on my own."
"Oh, sorry," Freddie said, slightly embarrassed. "I'll give you a call," he promised.
"Looking forward to it," she said sincerely.
Freddie smiled, stepped away from her desk, and exited the Optic Center that was sectioned off from the main lobby by a glass wall. He stood in the lobby for a moment watching with admiration as Wendy worked with the next customer – a middle aged woman with blue gray hair.
Freddie drove to Air Flow Filter Corporation in the Hillsboro Industrial Park where he worked as a senior manager feeling more hopeful than he had since Delores deserted him.
God, Wendy Landry. She was the prettiest girl at St. Anne's Catholic School in Freddie's humbled opinion, a year behind him but the school was small enough where most people knew each other.
Wendy was smart and she came from a well-known family on the well-known Hilltop section of town, just around the corner from where Freddie lived. They were naïve and innocent friends in their younger years, hanging out with the same kids growing up in the neighborhood.
Freddie had been inside Wendy's house several times for visits and birthday parties. They served on a couple of student council committees together in high school and Wendy was the 'chain girl' for a year on the football sidelines.
But Freddie was crushed when Wendy turned him down when he asked her out when they became old enough to date. Unaccustomed to rejection as one of the more popular athletes in the school, Freddie basically harassed and stalked Wendy in an attempt to pressure her into changing her mind. She finally tearfully revealed that her parents – strict Catholics – wouldn't let her date in high school.
On one level, Freddie respected her parents' protective concern but he was also stubbornly annoyed by their attitude and he made a nuisance of himself on more than one occasion in front of them.
Looking back on it now, Freddie was embarrassed by his willingness to be a jerk. He made Wendy feel uncomfortable and conflicted when he refused her 'let's just be friends' pitch and he'd call the Landry house just to be an asshole when Mrs. Landry answered the phone.
Then Freddie went out with Collen Cavanaugh mostly to stick it to Wendy in his psychotic attempt to get back at her for turning him down. They stopped being friends and Freddie graduated and went off to college where he eventually met Delores and the rest, as they say, was history.
He'd hear about Wendy from time to time from his mother or sister – how she married some successful optometrist who had a practice in Miller City but there wasn't much point thinking about her back then. He was happily married, raising a family, and he assumed Wendy was doing the same.
And now here they were thirty years later, experiencing a hello again moment. Could they really pick up where they left off after all these years?