My parents married some four months after they became formally engaged. Mom, as most of us would, experienced the occasional bout of cold feet during this time of waiting. It was during one of these periods of uncertainty that the company for which she worked as a secretary, Garrett Grommet Corp., hired a new director of sales.

His name was Nick Fogarty and, oh, was he smooth. He began to ply Mom with sweet talk from the day he set foot in the corporate headquarters, and he never let up. Normally, Mom would easily have dismissed the lines of such a slickster, but in her erratic emotional state, she was vulnerable to his attentions.

After two weeks of pressure, she finally gave in and met Nick for a Tom Collins at Zasu's Paradise Lounge, not far from the office. He was quite charming, and perhaps sensing Mom's trepidation, he behaved in gentlemanly fashion. Mom drove home in a fog, more confused than ever. Sure, she loved her fiancé, the man who was to be my father, but was he the man she should marry? Perhaps she too young to settle down. And what of Nick? He was so worldly, so exciting.

Her answers came the next day at the office, when she picked up the phone to have a sandwich delivered for lunch and inadvertently selected Line 2 instead of Line 1. Nick was on Line 2, reassuring his wife -- his wife?! -- that he'd not forgotten their fifth anniversary and professing his undying love and devotion.

Trembling at the thought that she might have thrown over my father for such a louse, Mom marched into Nick's office, told him the jig was up, and informed him, in no uncertain terms, that he was to refrain from speaking to her in the future, or she would go straight to Mr. Garrett with all the sordid details of Nick's behavior.

It wasn't until two years later that Mom revealed to Dad her brush with disaster. Dad was, of course, furious with Nick, with whom he'd chatted baseball as recently as the previous summer's office picnic. Not being the violent sort, however, he fought off the urge to give Nick a sound thrashing, opting instead to drop by his house every night for two weeks, ring his doorbell, and run.

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