For those who don’t know me personally, I was separated in 2006 and have been divorced since 2009 and, although I’ve done a lot of dating and had a few relationships since then, I honestly never thought too seriously about getting married again.
Two-and-a-half years ago, when I was a member of the Wesley Chapel Noon Rotary Club, a fellow club member and I who had known each other through business only prior to that, met by chance at what used to be Stage Left (now Brunchies). She was sitting with a few other fellow club members and invited me to join them at their table.
By the end of that super-fun evening (it became my birthday at midnight that night), Jannah McDonald (who was working for the American Cancer Society at the time, but became the marketing and events coordinator for the Pasco Education Foundation shortly after that evening) and I had arranged our first date, where we embarked on a journey that has had a few ups and downs (as all of our friends know all too well). But ultimately, the good times far outnumbered the bad, which led to the night of the one-year anniversary party for WCNT-tv (Wesley Chapel & New Tampa Television), which was held in and outside of my office on June 30.
When we hired mine and Jannah’s favorite local band — Restless Soul (search “Restless Soul” on Facebook) — to not only provide the entertainment for the event, but also to learn a song (“Saint Valentine’s Day, by Bruce Springsteen’s guitarist, Miami Steve Van Zandt, who recorded the song with his own band, called Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul, which was released in February 2017) for us to sing with them, I wasn’t actually planning anything other than to have a kick-butt invitation-only party to thank all of our friends and sponsors, but…
A couple of weeks before the event, I decided that Jannah and I should also do a little dance routine during the song’s 45-second musical interlude and it was during our first lesson (anyone who knows me can tell you that I maybe can sing a little bit, but have never been much of a dancer) at the Rhapsody Ballroom on N. 56th St. just north of E. Fowler Ave. that I decided that there would be a surprise ending to the song (you can check out excerpts of the song and the entire dance on our “Neighborhood News” Facebook page).
The evening did not go off without a hitch, which had me concerned about whether we would even get to perform the song, much less whether I would get to spring the beautiful faceted garnet-and-diamond ring I got a great deal on from my friends at Leiva’s Jewelry (in the New Tampa Center shopping plaza) on her.
Although we had a little more than 100 people on hand at around 7, the skies opened up — as they so often do during the summer here in Florida — around 7:15, while everyone was enjoying the truly amazing food from my friends Jessica and Carl Meyers of Little Italy’s Family Restaurant & Catering in Lutz, Ramses and Ana Garcia of Las Palmas Café and Phil and Natalia from Olde Heights Bistro in Seminole Heights, plus the incredible desserts from Nothing Bundt Cakes (right now in Carrollwood, but looking to secure a Wesley Chapel location) and my friend Evelyn Barreno from 7 Layers Bakery.
The plan was for our song to open the band’s second set — and for us to do a Facebook Live event for the song — at 8 p.m. But, by the time the rain stopped shortly before 8, more than half of the people had left. Undaunted, we went ahead and performed the song when the rain gave us about a 15-minute window and I ended the song by asking Jannah if she would marry me “some Saint Valentine’s Day?” And yes, even though no one actually heard her say it, she did say yes.
Obviously, those who stuck around for it were glad they did and Jannah and I thank the hundreds of you who have already posted well wishes on Facebook.
Getting A Taste-y Reward!
Although I am now a member of the New Tampa Noon Rotary Club (which meets Wednesdays at noon at Mulligans Irish Pub in the Pebble Creek Golf Club), the Rotary club that put on the successful 2017 Taste of New Tampa & Wesley Chapel is actually New Tampa’s original, or “breakfast” Rotary Club, which meets Fridays at 7 a.m. at Tampa Palms Golf & Country Club (TPGCC).
In the spirit of Rotary, I agreed to help (more like forced myself on) the Rotary’s Taste coordinator (and now, newly inducted president) Karen Frashier and her committee with restaurant procurement for the event and the rest, as they say, is history. Or so I thought.
At their club’s annual banquet at TPGCC on June 23, Jannah and I were invited as honored guests and even though it was on one of my deadline Fridays, we were thrilled just to be there. Imagine my surprise, therefore, when I received the plaque on this page from outgoing president (he of the newly shaven head) Brice Wolford. Calling me “Mr. Taste” was pretty sweet, but I had to acknowledge the amazing “You Believed. You Made It Happen” inscription in these pages. Thanks so much!.