Holding on to the smile among pies

Published 7:10 am Wednesday, January 17, 2024

By Steve Stricker

Working on the Ole Miss Campus for fifteen years, many of my single faculty and staff friends, finding Oxford not to be  the “dating capital of the world,” moved on – as did I, but chose to stay for the superior quality life above any relationship I’d ever been in.

In my last Wednesday’s Eagle column, I wrote about a very rare pleasant incident in Kroger on Monday, January 1, New Years Day, 9:15am, after 8:30 am Mass at St. John, feast of Mary, Holy Mother of God, store being somewhat New Years Eve party goers empty, me in the Pie Section totally focused on a pecan pie when suddenly a shopper stopped beside me, looking up, was startled by a very attractive, middle-aged “girl” short brown hair, brown eyes, dressed all in black, nothing blingy, warmly smiling at me – whew!  

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Being 13 years removed from my last “date” or outing with a female after the broken engagement with Scottish lass, never looking up at Kroger or anywhere else because I didn’t care, thinking I’d never find a lady with my strong faith to be equally yoked, especially in Oxford, although wanting a relationship, fully functioning libido, shoved it all down, attended daily Mass, felt like a faux celibate priest, and even Fr. Joe recommended me to be a 3rd Order Franciscan….

Truly off guard and not knowing how to respond, smiled back to girl in black, said good morning, and she, smiling, slowly moved away. This day was very important to me as it was the feast of Mary Mother of God to whom I pray to guide me to a lady like her and look for a miracle on such a feast day – maybe I blew it by having faith, but no “game.”

In Oxford 1988 to obtain my Ph.D., in Educational Psychology (Counseling) prayer to God:  Please let me be admitted to the Ph.D., program and complete it, get a swell job on the Ole Miss Campus, reliable car, new house, and to be in love for the first time in my life…all but the last happened.

Totally unexpected contact with the girl in black was nice, anything could happen with God, but so many years gone – gave her totally to Mary, let it go, and continued shopping – and nothing happened.  I was open but it had to develop naturally and did not.  Even if I had met her, chatted, what was next?  Seeing each other casually, were we compatible, how long would that take?  Dating by Catholic Church teachings is strict – no premarital sex, cohabitation, would take a Mary miracle lady.  

It was enjoyable to be attracted to someone again after such a long time, but it was just that, nice and was glad I stepped back and didn’t push anything.  IF she was the one, chosen by my heavenly mother we’ll meet again – as it would have to be blessed by God and slow as the opening of rose bud to full flower or the viscosity of refrigerated honey.

Having not been attracted to anyone for so many years, it was somewhat fun to again feel those forgotten “romance” tingles but also frustrating to be jolted from not feeling them again after so long, just plodding along day-by-day, and now having to shove them back into the vault under my rock…. However, I get “miracles” and nothing is impossible with God…but for this…uh, I’m from the “Show Me” state of Missouri….

Steve is an Oxford resident and received his Ph.D. in Educational Psychology (Counseling) from Ole Miss.