When last we were with Dan Lewis and his family, he and Jan were headed to Tucson to talk to their oldest son, J.R. about Dan's situation. The last installment was on August 7 if you want a refresher.
Jan was thankful, too, for John and Hettie. Their conversation on Sunday would be hard, but it would also set things in motion. She knew Dan would be happier and, hopefully, healthier once everyone was on the same page. Jan could see that it was eating Dan alive to not be able to get it off his chest.
Dan could endure a lot. Jan was sure he would face his cancer with dignity and do whatever he could to keep his family comfortable and happy around him. It was just who he was. He helped people and this was why she fell in love with him in the first place.
Jan’s friend, Molly Blohm, was looking for a car during their first year of teaching and had met Dan on the lot one late November afternoon while perusing the lots on Camelback Road after school had gotten out for the day. Molly liked Dan immediately and thought he and Jan would hit it off. The next day at lunch, Molly talked Jan into going back to the lot with her to test drive a couple of cars.
At the end of the first test drive, Molly blurted out:
“Dude, if you’re single, you should totally ask her out.”
Dan responded without missing a beat.
“Well, Jan? Are you in the market for a new date?”
The two agreed to see a new movie that was coming out the next week with Steve Martin and John Candy called Planes, Trains, and Automobiles and exchanged phone numbers. Dan almost invited Jan to his parent’s house for Thanksgiving but decided that might be coming on a bit too strong. Molly was cute, and he’d even thought about asking her out the day before if the deal went south, but Jan was a beauty.
Tall, light brown almost caramel colored hair, and striking blue eyes, Dan was smitten from the moment Molly had introduced Jan. He also appreciated that Jan immediately stated that she was not interested in buying a car. He liked it when people were upfront with him, especially a beautiful woman. From that day forward, Dan knew he could just be himself with her.
Jan felt similarly, especially after she noticed how well Dan treated Molly. In typical Dan fashion, he steered Molly towards the best car for her and not the one at the top of her price range. Initially, Molly had eyes on an older Mercedes that was on the lot. It was in wonderful shape, but Dan knew it would end up costing Molly a bit more than she could probably afford over the next few years and had her drive a newer Honda Accord with far fewer miles.
If Jan admired anything in a man, it was integrity. It didn’t hurt that she found Dan’s easygoing nature and casual, yet serious half-preppy, half California-casual style, replete with black Van’s quite charming. Dan also had a wonderful smile, too, that seemed genuinely kind.
He would make a great teacher, she had thought.
Dan called her the next day to go over the details of their movie date.
“Hello, Miss Wallace. This is Dan Lewis,” was his opener.
Jan laughed at this and blushed as she held her phone. With a grin on her face, she said, “You really don’t have to call me, Miss Wallace, Dan… And, hello.”
They decided that they would meet at Town and Country, which was an outdoor mall with a few shops and a movie theater about a mile and a half from Dan’s dealership. He had to work in the morning on Black Friday but would be off by 3pm or so. The conversation was fairly short, but Jan did end with a bit of flirtation that made Dan blush a little, too.
“If the movie goes well, I may even let you take me to dinner. See you Friday, Dan, and Happy Thanksgiving.”
The movie did, in fact, go well, and the two had gone to Ed Debevic’s, which was on the South side of Town and Country for dinner. They were both in a great mood after seeing such an entertaining film. Due to it being a holiday weekend, Ed Debevic’s was fairly busy when they arrived, and they had to wait for a table.
“Why eat leftovers when you can have a burger and a shake,” Dan quipped.
“Don’t threaten me with a good time, Dan. There is nothing better than a good burger,” Jan replied.
“Darn, my Diner’s Club card got burned up in the rental car. You have any cash?” asked Dan, trying to quote the movie they had just seen, albeit badly.
Dan had barely been able to focus on the film. He enjoyed it, yes, but he wanted to talk to the woman sitting next to him. He wanted to know her. He loved that she laughed heartily at the funny parts and she didn’t even seem to notice when he got a little teary at the end, although he thought he had played it off okay.
The two were finally seated and talked about their careers for a while. Dan was impressed that Jan was already teaching, and she was just about to turn 22 years old. Jan, on the other hand, was intrigued by the fact that a car salesman didn’t really care about cars. When she had said to him, “You must really love cars,” he just shook his head and smiled at her.
“No, I actually don’t. I love helping people get something they feel good about. Cars are something almost every adult in this town needs. I could care less what kind of car anyone drives. I’m way more interested in why they drive it,” he said.
Jan considered this for a moment.
“Why do you drive your car?” she asked.
At this point, Jan didn’t even know what kind of car Dan had. They had met at the theater entrance and walked over to the restaurant after the movie. He could have taken the bus to Town and Country for all she knew.
“Well…hmmm….” Dan paused for a second. “I drive my car because I need to go places. It’s a relatively safe way to get where I need to go. I also get good gas mileage.”
“That’s it,” he replied.
After dinner, Dan walked Jan back to her car. It was a small, silver Toyota hatchback. Too small, in Dan’s mind for such long legs, but he kept that to himself. “There’s no way she’s comfortable in that,” he thought.
On their walk, he pointed his own car out to her, which was a Nissan pickup. It looked dark gray in the dim light of the chilly November parking lot, but it was a bit lighter in the daylight. Dan had gotten a deal from a friend at the Nissan dealership down the street and paid cash for it after saving a couple of his bonus checks earlier in the year.
“Would I be safe in that thing?” Jan asked.
“You’ll always be safe with me,” he replied and slid his hand into hers.
See you tomorrow.
If you've been to Town and Country mall, you've seen this.