family & parenting

MartyDigs: Cailin

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I write about my son Jack in this blog all the time. It’s hard not to, he provides entertainment, I am proud of him, and to be honest, it’s fun to write about him. I am amazed how a three foot tall, thirty-five pound person consumes so much of my life. But this week I would like to pay homage to my girlfriend Cailin. She is my best friend, a great drinking buddy, a fun concert mate, and most importantly- she my baby mamma. I love her, and I love her name; it matches her personality in that both are very unique. She definitely keeps me on my toes and I appreciate that along with a million other things about her.

This weekend we took Jack to his friend’s birthday party, and for some reason – in the bathroom, I was reminded of how much my life has changed since 2005. I looked at a sign above the toilet that read “Please Do Not Flush Wipes or Diapers Down Toilet”. This is in sharp contrast to 2005 when I would have to pee in a metal trough in a dirty, humid, overcrowded bathroom at the New Jersey shore. That summer, I was a single man and much to my chagrin, girls weren’t celebrating out in the streets, popping bottles of champagne, letting off firecrackers and lining up at my front door in eager anticipation. It was the first time I was a single dude since 1998 and to add into the equation – it was the first summer we had my parents shore house to visit, so it was a recipe for disaster. It’s hard for me to remember that raucous, fun, blurry summer but I remember I went fishing once or twice, saw a ton of concerts, and my debit card had singe marks on it from every bar on the eastern seaboard.

 I wasn’t in a rush to meet a young lady, and scoffed at some suggestions from co-workers to try the internet dating. I’m not particularly tech savvy, but I wasn’t about to try dating some robot or computer. And I am not going to lie, a few girls caught my eye here and there and the results were always comical to say the least. At Maynard’s, a bar in Margate, there was a waitress who was straight off the boat from Ireland. She was very nice, very cute, and “seemed” to be into me – as the fifteen Pabst Blue Ribbons helped me forget the concept that waitresses work for tips. I slurred or mumbled some sort of “do you want to hang out later” half-assed proposition. After that awkward moment where you could hear the sound of every cricket in Margate chirping, she politely declined in the cutest accent ever, which sort of softened the blow of the first “shut down” of my singlehood.

 That incident made me recoil a bit, and I tucked my tail (and self-esteem) between my legs and decided I would devote the rest of summer to having as much fun as possible. I made fishing, concert going, and pumping cold beers down my gullet into new hobbies. The freedom I had was intoxicating. Nobody to tell me what to do, no rules, and the world was full of possibilities. I went to Chicago for Lollapalooza. I saw Dave Matthews and a ton of other bands on Randall’s Island in New York City. And I spent my summer weekends at the shore like a vampire, out all night and sleeping all day.

But then all of a sudden, I started to meet a few girls. No dates or anything, but I actually said more words than “one beer please” to a couple of girls. While I was enjoying being single, I soon thought that maybe I would “play the field” which of course is ridiculous. As much as I wish that I was as smooth as Luther Vandross, I certainly am not. The weekend I was in New York for Dave Matthews, I was kind of “set up” with a friend of my buddy’s latest love interest. When we met, she was about half a foot taller than me- game over. I set a date with another gal, and missed it because I fell asleep after work and didn’t wake up until 10pm. This was because I had been out the night before until 4am, and it was a work night.  

The summer had taken its toll on me, and Labor Day weekend, I realized I was definitely sick but couldn’t miss out on the last weekend of Margate’s legendary bar Maloney’s being open. I spent every second I could there, and because of that lost my voice for the better part of September. Luckily, I had just about gotten it back for Friday, September 23, 2005 – a day that will live in eternal infamy. I was at Happy Hour in Center City, and as usual, my Happy Hour was turning into Happy Wild Night Out in Philadelphia. Wisely, I put the brakes on that and got back to Jersey. Once home, I almost fell asleep on the couch but decided to come out at the urging of my sister. None of my buddies were coming, and my cousin never showed up to the bar – which all wound up to be a good thing. My sister and her friends were dancing, so I was just talking to friends from town, and wandering around the bar. A bachelorette party came in, and I knew most of the girls, but one girl I had never seen before.

I looked over her way a few times, and swear she looked over at me a few times. (She both confirms and denies this now) Soon, I was over on her side of the bar and was ordering a drink. I noticed she was drinking what appeared to be a Guinness, which pushed my instant attraction to the girl into overdrive. Now, I was never good at meeting girls at bars, mainly because I was in one relationship or another since age 21, but felt comfortable saying something to her. I asked “is that a Guinness”, and she replied “yeah, is that weird?” And I said, “no, that’s awesome!”  (A true Billy Dee Williams I am) I offered to buy her one, and we got to talking. Turns out, she was working at the school my dad is a principal at, we had been two feet from each other without meeting at an Incubus concert three years prior, and in 2001 she was at my parents house for one of the infamous summer parties my sister and I would throw when they were away. (Good thing we didn’t meet then, she was 18- I was 25 and had a girlfriend)

As we were talking, I was amazed that I was talking to a girl who was from my town of Gloucester. She attended college “away” (she went to Monmouth), she didn’t have a baby, or an illicit drug addiction, and she had been overseas. (And I don’t mean across the Delware River) She had traveled to Australia, studied abroad in London, and visited a ton of countries while she was there. I was so impressed by this girl, and not to mention she was really, really pretty. We were having a great time talking about traveling, music, beer, and each other. But the bachelorette party kept dragging her over to dance, though eventually she would find her way back to me. In one of a very few rare moments in Marty O’Connor history, I was really confident that if I asked her out on a date or her number, she would be saying yes. So when I did, she conceded and gave me her number – and in what would be a giant example of foreshadowing, she explained that her cell phone was broke. Six years later, I have learned that lost/broken cell phones, debit cards, licenses, legal documents, and car keys are the norm with Cailin.      

I was smitten with her instantly, and could care less about the rules of when to call, and all that nonsense. That Monday, I contacted my dad to see if he could get me her email (since she worked at his school). I emailed her – very nervously, explaining how I had a great time meeting her and would love to go out on a date. I did this five minutes before I had to go down to a Comcast company meeting at the Spectrum – I still remember telling my friend Rachel about the whole situation on the shuttle ride down there. When I got back, she had responded and agreed she would like to go out sometime as well. That night, I conveniently wound up at my dad’s school to play basketball (something I hadn’t done in over a year) and even more conveniently I bumped into her. We wound up talking for an hour, and I drove her home from work. She didn’t seem to care that my back passenger window was smashed in. (Oh yeah, two days before meeting her, my window was smashed in while I was at a show in Philly – and I hadn’t yet bothered to get it fixed) We went out for drinks that night at Connie Mac’s, and I found out that night she loved wings, hated country music like I did, and loved college basketball like I did.

That night, I dropped her off and asked if we could go out again. She wanted to, so that Wednesday we went to Brigid’s in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia –a great little restaurant in my favorite section of Philly. After that, we had Guinness at the Bishop’s Collar (my favorite bar in Philly) and then walked to the Art Museum. We laugh about this now, because she knew what I was up to, but at the top of the art museum steps we kissed for the first time. Wasn’t the smooth operation I was hoping it would be, but I was nervous as hell and I felt like a 14 year old kid, and had the Rocky theme was going off in my head. The rest, as they say, is history.

Cailin is a character to say the least, she loses stuff, forgets stuff, and I sometimes have to keep her social and event calendar for her. But I admire the heck out of her. She has an amazing willpower. To quote my main man Dr. Emmet Brown “if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.” That is how I feel about her – that she is capable of anything that she puts her mind to. She has run something like seven marathons since we met, competed twice in the “Tough Mudder”, and finished grad school while we had a toddler son. She works with autistic and special needs children and truly loves and is committed to what she does. As she explains, it’s very challenging, but very rewarding. She is tight with her siblings, and always there to support her brother and his music, and everything her sisters get involved in.   

She is not the typical girl either, which is really cool. Once on a fishing trip, she bagged two flounders which totally pissed off the salty old fisherman who was trying to “teach” her how to fish. Year in and year out, she wins, or places high in March Madness basketball pools. She won over a thousand bucks this year. She steals my ipod, which is OK because she loves the music on it – so that’s cool with me. And whenever we have a wedding or event to go to where she won’t know many people, it’s never a problem. She is amazingly engaging and can make friends everywhere we go. My buddies, their wives and their girlfriends all love her. She isn’t the type of person you have to “babysit” when you attend an event. This is especially true when I see my college buddies – she knows how much they mean to me, and how seldom we all get together anymore, so she just jumps in with the wives and they all let us tell embarrassing stories, laugh, and carry on.  

The girl also knows me – so well, that she can make fun of me and nails it right on the head. She tells me that my stories are like trees and always branch off. And that I remember, and always have to mention the date or year the story took place. She also tolerates having to hear certain stories over and over, or listen to me mention or make note of all the changes that have occurred along the roads we take to the shore. And she totally makes me laugh – one time I really love is when she and I were in Atlantic City at Adam Good Sports Bar drinking five dollar 40oz. bottles of beer. There was some guy wearing one of those hipster-ish old man fedora hats,that I thought looked pretty cool. I commented to her “I could never pull off one of those hats” and she dryly replied “neither can he”. I almost choked on a mouthful of Miller Light I was laughing so hard.   

Sadly we don’t get out much together because of Jack, and I definitely miss some of the fun times we had at concerts and bars. Like at the Irish Pub in Atlantic City back in 2006, when the guy in the leprechaun outfit they hire to walk around told me to “hang onto her, because you ain’t doing any better than that!” In a way, he is right, and not just because she is a pretty girl. She is a great person, a loving mother, and along with Jack, my favorite person to be with. I know this sounds weird, but I still have a crush on her and get the same flutter when she enters a room. I feel lucky to be a part of her life, and even luckier that she is a part of mine. And I am OK with the fact that in my little family of Cailin and Jack, I am by far the third best looking person. Jack is a mix of us, which makes me love her so much more and love him so much more. It’s indeed an amazing concept realizing that he is a mix of us, the little fellow must bleed Guinness!

It has been almost six years that we have been together. Crazy to think that I met the girl I love, and the mother of my child at a bar where “Crazy Train” by Black Sabbath, “My Humps” by Black Eyed Peas, and that dreadful “Friends In Low Places” song are the three most requested songs on the jukebox. The girl that I eat wings, drink good beer, listen to good music, and watch college basketball with happens to be my girlfriend and Jack’s mommy – and I couldn’t be happier. So I want to toast her with a pint of Guinness, tell her I love her, and thank Cailin for being Cailin. (And pray that she doesn’t kill me for writing this week’s edition of MartyDigs about her!)

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2 Responses to “MartyDigs: Cailin”

  1. Loved this one Marty – Cailin is a great girl – Cailin is lucky to have a guy like you!

  2. I’d like to say that I ALSO dig Cailin, and she’s not even my baby mama. :)

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