I Met Howie And My Life Changed Forever
(Photo is Howie on our Wedding Day 11/1/2004)
After the scary ordeal with Jay Baykal, I’d dated a number of men including Bob Solomon, another guy with a foot fetish I met at a Sailing Club, a contractor who was selling a house on Pelican Island, Mr. America (Collins), and others I’ve totally forgotten, but I didn’t let any of them to move in.
Howard Eugene Baskin and I met met at the kick off party for a new concept that Mary Hessler Key was introducing to Tampa Bay called No More Homeless Pets. The coalition was being formed to end euthanasia of healthy dogs and cats in shelters by implementing an aggressive spay and neuter program. Big Cat Rescue is one of the founding members of No More Homeless Pets of Hillsborough County.
At that party, Howie won my adoration immediately because he had actually visited WildLife on Easy Street and knew who we were when it seemed that no one in the area had ever heard of us. Mary Key had suggested he visit us with his little foster brother, Eric years before. Mary had invited her best friend, Howie, to the kick off party because she wanted to get him involved.
At dinner parties Howie is always the one who tells our “meeting story” but this time I get to tell it. Mary had sent out paper invitations to the kick off party at the Florida Aquarium for 5:00 PM, but she later sent out an email, changing the time to 5:30. Of all the people who got invitations, Howie and I were the only ones who didn’t read the email because we already had the paper invites. At 5PM when I arrived at the aquarium there was just one person going up the ramp ahead of me. He was tall, thin, wearing a grey suit and had a spine that bent him slightly to the left. His gate was stiff and I thought to myself, “I could sure loosen him up!”
He heard me behind him, as we were the only people in the area, and turned to ask if I was going to this “pet function.” I moved up beside him and we chatted as we walked the ramp to the room where the event was to take place. Arriving there was one whole wall of glass and the beautiful fish on the other side. The room was full of candle lit tables and there was a bar tender in the corner of the room. Howie said it was pretty odd that NO ONE, not even the host, Mary, was here suggesting that maybe they were in another room. He went up to the bartender and asked.
Coming back to where I was sitting at a table he said, “Turns out the whole thing was a sham that Mary set up so you and I would meet!” He’s always been good at delivering a straight faced one liner and I was speechless. Once he saw that his statement had its desired effect he confessed that the event wasn’t supposed to start until 5:30 and we later learned from Mary about the content of the email correcting that.
I was smitten immediately. I’d been seeing a hypnotherapist about my weight, my shame and my horrible choices in men. I’d decided that the next guy I’d date would be someone I’d never be attracted to ordinarily. Howie certainly fit that description. I’ve never cared about a man’s physical appearance. I think that’s shallow. My previous predilection was for the “bad boys” and this guy was like meeting Mr. Rogers, right down to the closet full of sweater vests. It’s how I first described him to Jamie and my mom too. Turns out to be the best decision I ever made.
The following is Howie’s bio:
Mr. Baskin is a semi-retired management consultant who works with early stage and fast growing companies in the areas of strategic planning, finance and operations. He conducts strategic planning sessions, creates financial forecasts and monitors performance against them, assists in developing financial presentations, marketi