MEN MY MOTHER DATED Mom returned from the Thanksgiving break of her senior year in college to learn that three of her closest friends had become engaged over the four-day weekend. While Mom was pleased for them, she felt a bit left out. It wasn't that she wasn't dating; she was, and often, but they were friendly dates, a movie, perhaps, or a soda at the student union with the same boys she'd been seeing off and on throughout her seven semesters at school.

She found herself craving the sense of security and commitment her friends now had. After all, graduation was just one short semester away. Wasn't it time she began to think of her future, to actively seek a life partner?

Opportunity came knocking at the annual Christmas Ball. Though Mom was escorted by Gil Russert, one of her standbys, she spent a good portion of the evening in the company of Russell "Rusty" Simms. Rusty, recently returned to the States from a stint in the Army and a brief tour of duty in South Korea, was the older brother of a classmate. A big man, at two inches over six feet and 260 pounds, and quite dashing in his uniform, he pursued Mom with a fervor and she allowed herself to be swept up in his enthusiasm.

Mom and Rusty spent four straight evenings together, before the onset of Christmas break, and he called her nightly during the holidays. He even surprised her by showing up at 5pm on New Year's Eve and treating her to a night on the town in Tulsa, where they feasted on Lobster Newburg and champagne, swinging and swaying the night away to the sounds of the Sammy Kaye Orchestra. At midnight, Rusty surprised Mom with a beautiful diamond ring and a proposal of marriage. Caught up in the excitement of the moment, emboldened by the champagne, Mom said yes.

As the day drew near, Mom began to doubt her decision to marry Rusty. Those little quirks unique to her betrothed began to seem off-putting... the loud ties he favored, the way he answered the telephone ("Yello..."), the fact that he managed a pet store and carried on him the intermingled scents of cat litter, fish food and dog hair.

In the end, she decided that the envy she felt for her newly engaged friends had clouded her judgement. She broke the engagement just nine days before the wedding was to have taken place. Rusty naturally was crushed and, upon realizing that she was resolute in her decision, he moved to Montreal, Canada, where he owns a chain of discount pet stores. He has been married three times.

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