ENDURING ROMANCE FROM AN UNLIKELY MATCH
At the age of seven, I took my first figure skating lesson; and by the age of twelve, I had earned a place on the Canadian National Figure Skating team. My name is Dawn Porter; I spent my youth as a competitive athlete; and as an adult I toured the world as a professional figure skater.
Growing up, I had a grueling training schedule with no time for boys or dating. I was constantly surrounded by fit, handsome skaters and hockey players, but it was a small community, and I didn’t have time for the drama or the gossip that ran rampant at the local ice rink. I also realized that the career of a professional athlete is very short; and I pledged to never date anyone on skates.
After high school, I was offered a contract as Wendy in Disney’s production of Peter Pan. I was once again surrounded by handsome athletes, but I stayed true to my pledge. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a nun. I dated outside my profession, but with my travel schedule, relationships were difficult.
For the next ten years, I traveled the world; first with Disney On Ice, then Ice Capades, and Warner Brothers. Unbeknownst to me, in the winter of 1997, my life was about to change dramatically. I was visiting Los Angeles, in advance of the Warner Brothers Asian tour when I was informed that the tour had been cancelled. I was quickly offered a position choreographing the ice show for Paramount’s Theme Parks. Rather than return home to Canada, I decided to stay and enjoy Sunny Southern California.
I found an apartment and started enjoying life in one place. I even ran into some old friends from my Canadian skating days; friends who grew up and were now playing hockey for the LA Kings. By coincidence, the facility we were using to develop our show was the same facility the LA Kings used to train. Six months after taking up residence in Los Angeles, I was enjoying my life. I was meeting lots of interesting people, and I had even been on some very interesting dates. One night, while hanging out with a few friends at Lola’s Martini Bar in North Hollywood, my social life became the topic of conversation.
“Why didn’t you ever have a boyfriend?” my old friend Zach asked.
“I never had time for one,” I answered. “I was always traveling and training. But now that I am settling down in one place I have time.”
“What kind of guys do you like?” Zach asked. “Show me the type of guy you would consider dating.”
I surveyed the people in the bar but I didn’t see anyone I would consider dating. Zach, however, was annoyingly persistent; and every twenty minutes he would jump up and parade me around the bar in search of a man with potential. It was while we were sitting at the table, however, that I saw my prospect, pointed and said to Zach, “Him!”
I found out later, that my quarry and future husband, Greg, was a very unlikely prospect. First, he wasn’t looking for a girlfriend, and second, he had conceived a specific list of attributes for any woman he would consider dating; a list of attributes that I did not have. She would have to be tall and I am 5’3”. She would have to be college educated and although I had been accepted to college, I had chosen to skate professionally. She would have to be a brunette, and I’m blond; and lastly, she would have to be financially secure. Well – at least I was financially secure.
Greg had what he claimed were logical reasons for his standards. He wanted a tall woman because he’s 6’4” and he wanted his children to be tall. He was convinced that his children were all going to be boys and he knew that his size was intimidating in both sports and in business.
He wanted a college graduate, because he wanted a woman with brains. Greg had not just gone to college. He had gone on to get two graduate degrees, he is extremely smart, and he wanted someone he could have a conversation with.
His rationale for only wanting a brunette, however, was misguided to say the least. Greg had dated quite of few blonde women before he met me and those relationships hadn’t worked out. He wanted a brunette because he was convinced that dark haired women were more passionate. That was bogus. We blondes are plenty passionate.
Anyway, not knowing that I was stepping up to the plate with three strikes against me, I flashed him a smile. He smiled back, walked over to me and introduced himself.
GREG AND I HAVE DISCUSSED IT OVER THE YEARS, AND DESPITE THE FACT THAT I WAS ONLY 1 FOR 4 WHEN MEASURED AGAINST HIS CRITERIA, HE ALWAYS TELLS ME, “I GOT EVERYTHING I WANTED WITH YOU.”
We struck up a conversation and we found it easy to talk with each other. The conversation grew even friendlier as we shared a few apple martinis.
His fondness for me took a big leap forward after I told him I was a professional figure skater. He looked at me and said, “if you’re a professional figure skater, you must be in really good shape.” I think it was the three apple martinis that made me do it, but I hopped off my bar stool, struck a pose and told him to, “feel my stomach.” He didn’t need to be asked twice. He jumped up, grabbed my waist and squeezed. I knew I had set the hook. From the look in his eyes, he wasn’t thinking about my education, my height or the color of my hair when his hands were around my waist. But it wasn’t my figure that changed Greg’s mind, that just opened the door.
Greg and I have discussed it over the years, and despite the fact that I was only 1 for 4 when measured against his criteria, he always tells me, “I got everything I wanted with you.” Here is his explanation. First, although I didn’t have a college degree, I had been accepted into the best colleges in Canada but had simply decided to pursue a career as a professional athlete. According to Greg, “A college degree is a simple screening mechanism. I got someone smart; and the discipline and focus it takes to be a world class athlete was just as impressive as a college degree.” His preference for hair color was another screen. Greg wanted someone who was warm and caring; and as he always tells me, he got that and then some. As for being financially secure, I made more money than Greg when we met; and he loves the fact that I am a savvy business woman. The only thing he teases me about these days is the fact that I’m short. But even that isn’t a problem. My sister is 5’7” and my grandfather was 6’4”. Genetically, Greg tells me that my height won’t affect our children.
Greg and I were engaged six months after we met and we were married on August 26, 2000 and I hung up my skates that same year. We have two children; and neither of them own a pair of ice skates, which is fine by me. Twelve-year-old Greyson is a member of the East County Lion’s Football team. Water polo is 16-year-old Darynn’s thing. She is a member of the Liberty High water polo team.
I am grateful for all of my experiences as a professional skater and choreographer because without them I wouldn’t be where I am today. I channeled my love of physical fitness into our Rockin’ Jump franchises, so I stay busy. And after all of these years, I am still happily married to the guy who seems perfectly contented to be married to a girl who “on paper” was nearly the opposite of what he thought he needed.