Updated: January 11, 2013 10:40AM
A few months after his wife died, Mark got a call from Mona.
They’re both lawyers — she specializes in family law — and had met many years ago when they’d tried a small case against each other.
“I won, but she doesn’t recall that,” says Mark.
Mark must have been mightily impressed with Mona’s legal skills because after that, he would refer his divorce inquiries to her. This went on for three decades. They’d also have lunch once a year.
During those lunches, he would show her photos of the Canadian canoe trips that he and his wife had taken.
Then, a few months after his wife died, Mona called Mark with a complex legal question. “I do appellate work, and I often field calls from lawyers looking for advice on complex issues.”
They hadn’t had lunch for a long time, so they decided to meet over a meal and talk about it. “We talked and it turned out she needed more advice than I could give her, so I told her I’d find a lawyer who could answer her question.
“I thought the lunch went well, for personal reasons, so rather than just call her, I walked over to her nearby law office and waited for her to come back from court, ostensibly to give her the name and phone number of the lawyer. After we discussed the topic, we just talked.”
Mark had learned at lunch that Mona was planning to go to a girlfriend’s lake home for the weekend. He had a different idea and he did something extremely gutsy.
“I asked her if she would blow off her friend and spend the weekend at my cabin in Galena, Ill.
It has a separate bedroom, bath and living area on the lower level. I knew that, but it dawned on me later that she didn’t know that, and I am sure she wondered about my motives.”
(As do I, Mark. I’m thinking you may have been interested in her legal briefs.)
“Keep in mind I’m no spring chicken. I just thought a weekend there would be interesting because most women like the shopping in Galena, and there are several cozy restaurants. It would give us a chance to really talk and see if we had things in common.”
Is it any wonder that Mona had a “somewhat surprised look” on her face when Mark made this suggestion?
“She explained that she wouldn’t let her friend down. Being a guy and thus not always that bright about such things, I immediately asked, ‘How about next week?’
“Then I got a real deer-in-the-headlights look that even I recognized. Being a good lawyer, I immediately retreated, telling her to just think about it.”
Mark thought about it, too, and realized he may have come on a bit strong. Yes, they’d known each other for 30 years, and yes, it was obvious they enjoyed each other’s company enough to maintain a casual connection during all that time, but a weekend trip before they had even been on one date?
Mark came up with a rather brilliant compromise. He asked Mona if her friend Jan would like to come along. The answer was yes.
“The three of us had a great weekend. And as I said, when I thanked Jan at our wedding two years later, the best thing was that she was a bad chaperone and went to bed early.”
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