So guess what happened 22 years ago yesterday? My husband and I had our first date. And the only reason he remembered was because Sean texted him the night before. The kids and I were out to dinner and I told them. Sean immediately texted his father so that he would have a heads up because he knew he wouldn't remember on his own. Lu's only comment was "you're not going to make spaghetti are you?". She hates spaghetti. But hubby worked in a Spaghetti restaurant when we were young and we ate spaghetti alot. I mean a whole lot. Because it was free and we were poor. So alot of times we fix it to commemorate anniversaries or we go eat at the Spaghetti house. And no, even with the heads up, he didn't do anything romantic for me. Unless you count fixing the dishwasher because I kind of do. But we have an odd idea of romantic. No, the grand gesture better come next month when we celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. But I'm going to pay tribute to him today.
I just browsed through some of my old blog posts, thinking maybe I already told the story of our first date. I didn't see it and since some of you are new, you wouldn't know it anyway. If you do, please skip ahead to the end. Really, I don't mind.
I moved back to America in November of 1987 and having graduated high school, being 17 and full of myself, I'd decided I didn't want to accompany my family to my Dad's next base in New Mexico. My parents weren't happy about this but we all know you can't tell a 17 year old anything. So the deal was I'd move in with my Grandma and go to Community College for two years and then transfer to University. Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men. And teenage girls. So I moved here to this little town in Illinois. Just a stopping point on my life's map. Or so I thought. I have a male cousin who's 18 months younger than me and since we were the closest in age, we hung out alot growing up. He was glad I was in town and called me up to see if I wanted to hit a movie with him and a friend. I did and met my husband. I'd been in town 3 days. He was my cousin's best friend. And he was hott. I remember making him show me his driver's license because I didn't believe he was younger than me. I didn't date younger guys. It was love (or lust) at first sight. What my family calls "lightening love" because it strikes fast and out of the blue. I even remember what he was wearing that night. Blue jeans (ripped of course), white high tops, black tshirt and an old army fatigue jacket. I have no idea what I was wearing.
Obviously, there were inherent problems. I was older and in my first year of college. He was still in high school and had been held back in first grade so he was only a sophomore. I was a world traveler who excelled at school. He was a river rat who never wanted to leave this area and slept through school when he wasn't in detention. Oh yeah, he was a bad boy and I was in love. Now I'd never ever really had to chase a guy and swore no guy was worth that. But I wasn't above strategy. You know, casually ending up in the same place or the even more devious dressing seductively and "omigosh! did you just look down my shirt?" ploys. No, I wasn't exactly innocent. But after two months of hanging out constantly, a couple of drunken make out sessions, and me pulling out all my best tricks, he still hadn't asked me out. I was completely confused and flabbergasted. Then he wrecked my car.
Yeah, you heard me right. He wrecked my car. Or rather, my parents car. It had been a wrestling tournament and he was a wrestler. A bunch of us were at the meet and he'd lost his match the night before so we were just there supporting those who were still competing. One of his friends wanted a ride to a party and I had no desire to give the guy a ride (he had a habit of punching me in the arm, hubby swears it was because the guy liked me, I think it was because he was deranged) so I gave hubby my keys. Well the next thing I know he's back, he's pissed and he says "I hit a kid". Once I'd calmed down and realized he hadn't actually run over a kid (a bit of a language barrier from all the time I'd spent in England), my heart sunk. We were both in a world of trouble. But he was so upset with himself, that I spent most of the night trying to calm him down. We had our first sober kiss on my Grandma's front porch. Both sets of parents were hopping mad and my car was undrivable. So he spent the next week driving me to work & my classes when he could. And that Friday night...
I was supposed to go to a basketball game at the university with my college friends, but I didn't like basketball (which is funny because now I love to watch it) and I wanted to see him. So I called him to see what he and my cuz were doing. This wasn't unusual, we talked on the phone alot. And he said my cuz was going to the basketball game and he hated "pumpkin pushers" (it's a wrestler/bball player hate thing in this town) and didn't want to go. I said ditto and maybe he should go to a movie~
him: Alone? That would be dorky.
Me: duh. Take a girl. You know, like a date?
Him: Oh. Well what girl? (my god, he really was a moron)
Me: Um. How should I know? Hey, ask your little sister. Sisters always know who you like. (crossing my fingers in hopes that his little sister did.)
Him: Hey Keely! Who should I take to the movies tonight?
Keely: I don't know. Who are you talking to?
Keely: Then ask her dummy!
Him: Um. So you want to go to a movie?
Me: (Not about to cut him any slack) You mean without Shannon? Like just the two of us? On a date?
Him: Um. Yeah. I guess so.
Me: Well, OK. I guess. Pick me up 6:30.
And yes, I was totally jumping up and down and mouthing "yes!". So I hung up and went to the bathroom to finish putting on makeup. My seven year old cousin was standing there watching me dance around going "I have a date!" She said "you always have a date, what's the big deal?" And I replied "but this is one I actually like!"
We went to the movies. Remember that Molly Ringwald movie "For Keeps"? Yep, that's what we saw. (And wasn't that slightly prophetic?) And then we hung out afterwards and everywhere we went people asked "where's Shannon?" Everyone was so used to seeing the three of us together. And the next question was "are you guys like on a date then?". And we'd look at each other sheepishly and answer "yes". He drove me home in his huge ass beatup pickup truck and after coming up for air after an extended bout of kissing, it finally came out that he'd like liked me since the night we met but he figured I'd never date someone like him. And he was intimidated by the parade of college guys I dated. I told him that had all been to make him jealous and that I thought I'd practically thrown myself at him and it was about time he finally caught me. And then my cousin came by where we were parked outside Grandma's house and told me it was time to get my ass inside. That just because I was with his best friend didn't mean he wasn't going to protect my virtue (what virtue??). I laughed, but went inside so hubby would make it home by his curfew. After that night? Inseparable. We started talking about "when we get married" two weeks later where he officially "married" me with a beer tab ring. Twenty two years flies by so fast. Thank you Shannon for introducing us and being best man at our wedding and godfather to our first child, with whom you share a birthday. Thank you Keely for being smart enough to know who your idiot brother should ask out even though you were only eleven. And for being godmother to our daughter. And for countless babysitting hours.
And to everyone who thought we were too young (omygodyouweresorightwewerejustbabiesourselves!)~ in your face! Because 22 years later we're still standing here together, happy more than not, and I can't imagine having shared this journey with anyone else. As much as he drives me crazy, he's still my best friend, the one who knows my secrets, holds my tears and never ever doubts me. He encourages me to go for my dreams, be who I am and live life on my terms. His love makes me fearless. Because no matter how bad I screw up he forgives and loves me anyway.
My husband, my hero.
This summer (he may have been slightly intoxicated and laughing his ass off)~