Well, twenty-one actually, but that’s not as poetic as the classic Beatles line. Before Jeff and I got married in 2009, we used to mark our anniversary by the day we met, and today marks 21 years ago that we met at Snickerz Comedy Bar, in Fort Wayne, IN. I think ours is, by far, one of the best “how we met” tales you’ll ever hear, so pull up a chair kids, cuz Auntie Lisa is gonna tell you a story.
Once upon a time, I was a divorced mother of two and touring standup comic. My girls, Kristina and Stacy, and I lived a strange and interesting life, based out of a shitty little third-floor walkup apartment in the suburbs of Chicago, during which time we traveled the country and met various celebs (ask the girls about the time they met Tim Allen during a tornado, or the time they hustled quarters from Willy Farrell to play video games in the hotel lobby).
We had moved to Chicago from Fort Wayne because there was a plethora of comedy clubs in Chicago and I wouldn’t have to travel as much to make a living. I had to take them on the road from time to time–when it couldn’t be avoided, because taking them out of school to do their homework on the road was difficult (aside from the fact that their homework never got done because we all lacked the discipline to make sure it did)–so living in a city where I could work in town more often made sense.
I spent seven years after my divorce “playing the field” and making EXTRA sure that if I ever ended up in a serious relationship again, it was going to be on much more balanced terms than my dysfunctional marriage was. I never wanted to get divorced again, so I wasn’t getting serious with ANYONE until I knew in my soul that it would be forever.
Finally, one day I realized I’d had enough trying on men as if they were shoes to see if they would pinch my toes or allow me to walk freely. I was ready to meet him, to find Mr. Right. I stated, out loud to the Universe, that I was done playing around and that I was open to attracting the man who would be my perfect match, one who would grow with me as I grew, one who would enjoy life the same way I do, and the one who wouldn’t try to change me into his version of the “perfect little wifey.”
I had no idea, back then, that this would actually work. I’ve learned since then about the Law of Attraction and “creating my own reality,” but back then I was just a frustrated woman who’d had enough of the dating world’s bullshit. I felt like Charlotte on Sex and the City, crying out, “Where is he???”
As a touring standup comedienne, I had myself booked for months in advance, as is necessary in that field. One day, shortly after my declaration, I got a call from the club owner in Detroit—where I was to perform the following week—that the club had burned down! My gig was cancelled.
I got on the phone and called every booking agent I knew, trying to fill this gap in my schedule. Finally, I landed a last minute gig in a club in Virginia Beach. The day before I was to leave Chicago for the long drive to Virginia, I got a call from the booking agent, who told me that Hurricane Hugo had wiped out the club. My gig was cancelled.
Panicky, I called the only place that I hadn’t called the week prior, the club where I started out years ago, in my home town—Snickerz Comedy Bar in Fort Wayne, IN. I begged Kevin Ferguson, my friend and the club owner, to let me MC the show, even though he usually did that job. I told him that he wouldn’t have to pay for my hotel, I would stay with my parents.
He agreed and I drove to Fort Wayne to make at least a couple of bucks … nowhere near what I would have made in Detroit or Virginia Beach, but enough to pay a bill or two, and I’d get to visit family and friends.
The feature act that week at Snickerz was Jeff. We both knew, pretty immediately, that our instant connection was something different. We were so comfortable together, like we’d known each other forever, like best friends.
I knew I liked him as more than a friend when he understood a comment I made, one that most men would have taken the wrong way. We were working with a headliner who was always “on” … you know, the kind of person who thinks that everything he says is the funniest thing ever and, even offstage, never stops making and laughing at his own jokes, which really aren’t that funny. I said to Jeff, “The problem with laughing at his jokes is that it’s like faking an orgasm. He thinks he’s doing a great job because I’m telling him he is, so he keeps doing it wrong and I have no one to blame but myself.”
Jeff was able to see beyond the sexual reference and not act like Beavis or Butthead (“She said orgasm … duh huh huh”). That’s when I knew that he was really listening, instead of just trying to get laid. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t trying to get laid, but that he stood a chance of sticking around afterwards.
He and I are now married and have been together 21 years, today. I’m not saying it’s been easy—in fact it hasn’t. It’s been downright painful at times. But soul mate relationships aren’t meant to be easy, in my opinion. It’s your soul mate who brings out not just the best in you, but your worst, and helps you grow into a better person instead of allowing your worst to take you over. Jeff and I have been that for each other, as well as best friends, family and each other’s muse. It’s clear to me that we were “meant to be.”
I think this is an incredible story, and so does author Amy Spencer, who included it in her book Meeting Your Half-Orange. Now, I’m not taking responsibility for a fire or tidal wave, but I do think that this story goes way beyond the realm of “coincidence,” don’t you?