FirstDate“He’s a successful author and journalist,” Kay predicted about the first date her friend Donna Sue had with me. “He’ll likely show up driving a sports car and all decked out fancy like Gentlemen’s Quarterly.”

No one would ever describe me as “fancy.” I’ve lived a rough, vagabond life—cop, Green Beret soldier, combat correspondent, adventurer, Soldier of Fortune, rodeo cowboy, pro boxer. . . Not a good resume for a relationship. After three marriages and three divorces, I vowed never to marry again. Three strikes and you’re out!

My second wife Kathy had a near nervous breakdown after I was reported missing in action while covering the war as a journalist in El Salvador.

I was 53-years-old and back in-country between jobs, having just returned from Operation Desert Storm, the first war in Iraq, when I met Donna Sue at a church Christmas party. Her first husband drowned, her second husband died of cancer.

“I should warn you,” she cautioned, “that I don’t have very good luck with men.”
“I have enough luck for both of us,” I responded. “I’ve been shot and stabbed and I’m still living.”

Normally, I’m not a boastful person. But Donna Sue was tiny and blonde and gorgeous. I was trying to impress her.

“I have either met the most interesting man in the world,” she related to her grown son, Darren, “or the biggest liar in the world.”

I took her out to dinner. I showed up in my pickup truck, not a sports car. Gentlemen’s Quarterly would have kicked me out of its club; I wore jeans, a t-shirt, and hiking boots. Like always. But they were clean.

Donna Sue was apparently impressed. First place I took her was the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain; then we went camping out all over Egypt riding camels; trout fishing in the San Juan River; to Israel; to rodeos where I was steer roping. . .Maybe I finally got it right. That was 20 years ago. . . and still counting.