Three years ago today, at right about noon I pulled my car into the parking lot at the Great Dane. Standing on the corner outside the restaurant was a boyish looking man wearing an over-sized, gray, short-sleeved, dress shirt. He also wore a nervous expression that told me he was probably my date. I then confirmed what I was thinking because I recognized him from his online profile. I recognized him first by his shirt - the same, over-sized, gray, short-sleeved dress shirt he was wearing was also the one he wore in his profile picture. It did make me wonder whether or not he owned any other apparel that was appropriate for going out in public. As I parked my car, I grabbed my purse and the box containing my copy of Scrabble, and I again looked at my date. He seemed really nice and pretty confident over email, but I could tell from 100 yards away that he was so nervous he thought he might die. That was when I decided to smile. I smiled all the way from my car to where he stood, and it was a good decision because he would later tell me my smile was what he noticed first about me.
He recognized me because I was awkwardly carrying a copy of Scrabble. We had decided over email that we would play Scrabble at the Great Dane for our first date. A silly, nerdy thing to do seemed appropriate. Bored games and nerdy things were the reason I looked at his profile in the first place. I walked toward him still, and when I approached he stuck out his hand to shake mine, and I laughed at him and said, “Oh, come on! Give me a hug!”
I remember almost every detail of that first date – what he wore, what I wore. We ate Idaho nachos (which are sadly no longer on the menu at the Dane), and I had the tomato mushroom soup and he had a cup of peanut stew. While we ate we talked. I first told him about my health, which for me was the first test for any guy. It was my “hold onto your hats” move. As I pricked my finger to test my blood sugar and then gave myself a shot of insulin, my date told me about his cousin and her son and their mysterious health problems. I remember him saying, “I think you’d really like her. She’s great!”
We played Scrabble and he crushed me. I was pretty sure this was going to happen because I’ve never been particularly good at Scrabble. During the game we talked more. He told me about the condo he just bought (bonus points for being a grown-up, a few minor points deducted for making it a tricked out bachelor pad), and the work he does “at this little medical software company.” I, laughed and listed my friends who also worked at Epic, and not shockingly we both knew one person.
My date and I talked about our families – my brother, his sister, and our parents. He impressed me by telling me how much he admires and looks up to his little sister and how they talk once a week – usually on Sunday. I remember thinking how thrilled I’d be if my brother called me once a week.
We finished lunch at the Dane, and I offered to split the bill with him and he refused to let me pay. After lunch and Scrabble we were crossing the street and I thought, “5’ 7” isn’t such a bad height. I think it’s completely fine that we’re exactly the same height.” I suggested we go for cupcakes, and even though he said he was too full, my date said he didn’t mind if I got a cupcake. I remember feeling really happy and a little bit silly. I remember being able to be completely myself.
We walked past the movie theater and my date saw “Cars 2” was playing. He asked me if I’d like to join him because he’d been dying to see it. I said sure, but when we went in we realized we had missed the 2pm showing by 10 minutes. I remember the sad expression of disappointment on his face and the way it innocently changed to hope as he cautiously asked me, “would you want to hang out until the 4:30 showing?” I said, “Sure why not.” I had to check and make sure it would be okay with my Dad, since he was in town and not expecting my date to take all day –especially since it was a first date. My Dad had no problem with me staying out longer, so now the only issue was what do we do for 2 hours?
I got a broad smile on my face and said, “Let’s go to the toy store!” He looked a little puzzled, but had nothing better to do so he followed. We looked at the toy dinosaurs and commented how our respective nephews would love them. I’m pretty sure I took two and proceeded to make them duke it out. T Rex probably won. We wandered through Playmobile isles and over to the board games. We talked about which board games we each owned, and oddly we owned several of the same games. Blokus and Carcassone, plus a couple others.
We tired of loitering at the toy store, we wandered through the mall and the grocery store, and finally we settled at a table outside the grocery store for the remainder of the time before the movie. The more time I spent with him, the more I liked him. We were able to talk about anything and everything and I really enjoyed talking to him. All the nerves I had seen as he stood on the corner a few hours earlier had vanished and I sat chatting with someone I felt I had known for a very long time.
We saw the movie and I don’t remember most of it because I spent most of the movie trying to get my date to hold my hand. At the really funny parts I would look over at him to share a laugh, but he was glued to the screen, which made me laugh harder. When the movie ended he said he would walk me to my car. We walked the block almost completely without talking. I could tell once again my date was extremely nervous. He fidgeted with his hands as we exchanged the required “I had a really good time,” and “we should do this again.” I had been on a lot of first dates, but this was one of the very few times that I actually meant that I had a great time and I really wanted to see him again.
We exchanged what I thought was the world’s most awkward hug, and as I got into my car I said, “Bye, Dan! I’ll talk to you soon!” I had a really good, happy feeling. I know now that feeling was the beginning of the best three years of my life.
I have loved every day since I met Dan. I love how our relationship started slow and awkward and after a month we became inseparable. I love that we knew very early on that we were meant to be together. I love all the good times we’ve had, and even the bad ones. I love the support and love Dan gives me and how he takes care of me when I’m sick. I love that we never stop laughing. I love our love and I love you, Dan.