I’m going to tell you a story today, and it’s going to be mostly words. I’ll share a picture right up front to amuse you, and maybe entice you into reading this disaster of a post. Also, click the links. They’re worth it 😉
Eight years ago today, Chelsea and I had our first night-time date. But that’s not where the story begins.
In the spring of 2004, I enrolled in classes at Tarleton in my traditional late fashion. I could’ve registered earlier, but I didn’t. I was a senior (the FIRST time I was a senior…), and being “on top of things” just wasn’t how I rolled. So after missing the first two days of classes because I wasn’t registered for them yet (sorry Mom!), I sauntered in to the Humanities building for my 11am Logic class. I’m not going to say “I saw her… And I just KNEW!”, because that’d be a lie. There was a cute redhead in the class, but there were cute girls in a lot of my classes. But over the next couple of weeks, I discovered there was a cute, smart, funny, engaging redhead in this particular class. And I moved up 3 rows to sit next to her.
We bonded by making fun of the most illogical logic professor in the history of teaching, and because we always finished our tests early, periodically had time to kill after class. We talked about family, church, and the ridiculousness of some of our classmates. We flirted. But I didn’t make a move… Not yet. As a guy who was pretty accustomed to being BRUTALLY shot down when he asked a girl out, I figured it was best to hold out until the end of the semester, so that if (WHEN) I embarrassed myself, I at least had the summer break to not have to look at this girl three times a week. But she had other ideas.
Right before spring break, after an especially easy test, we walked out of class at the same time (early) and she looked at me, matter-of-factly, and said: “Do you intend to eat lunch today?” Uh… yeah… Fat guys don’t skip meals. “Then you can take me to lunch.”
And it worked… We hopped in my car– I was rocking a ’91 Ford Tempo, and I could see she was disappointed. My preferred ride, the ’72 GTO convertible, had stayed at the house that day.
I try to make it up to her by pointing out that it had air conditioning, and asking her where she’d like to eat. When she mentioned a Chinese place that I’d had a particularly rough experience at (you can only ask me about this event in person. Telling the story online is libel, even if it IS true!) I sucked it up and we went anyhow. After an amazing 3-hour lunch, this girl GRABS THE TICKET! I’m like… What the heck are you doing, lady?!? This isn’t how this works… But she had the perfect response. “This way, you’ll owe me another lunch,” she said with a mischievous grin… This girl will be the death of me.
So we keep having lunches, and I keep making her late to work by taking too long. And she doesn’t care. And it’s awesome. Then she calls one afternoon, and we’re chatting away, like normal, and out of nowhere she asks me: “Do you intend to ever take me out on a date, like, at NIGHT?” I’m embarrassed. It hasn’t really occurred to me that “night time” is when people have “dates,” I’m just loving the time I get to spend with her. So, of COURSE I want to take her on a real date. I mean, duh, right? We settle on that Friday evening, fun times at the carnival that’s in town.
This time I take the GTO. I go to pick her up, and it’s weird. I mean, nothing is wrong about it, but I drive out to Morgan Mill, where she lives with her parents, to get her. And I meet the parents, who are having dinner. Mom seems nice enough, but Dad hits me with this question that caught me SO off guard, I’ll never forget it. “What time will you have her home?”
This isn’t a weird question. In fact, in retrospect, if nobody asked me that question, it would’ve been a bad sign. But I’ve been away from home for 4 years at this point, and it’s been a LONG time since I’ve been asked that question. I stumbled, and eventually found my answer. “When do you WANT me to have her home?”
It was the right answer, I think.
Our original plan was to hit the carnival while it was in town, but it was raining… Laaame. So we can that, and decide to get your basic “dinner and a movie” in Stephenville, since we have plenty of time to do that and make it back by the 10pm curfew her dad gave me 😉 We have a delightful dinner at Pastafina (she had fettucini alfredo, I had baked tortellini), and walk outside to see… The rain stopped. And the carnival going. So being the impulsive kids we are, we run across the street and buy tickets and start riding! We ride the Gravitron, the ride that spins around and sucks you to the wall, then we headed over to the Kamikaze. You see where this is going.
For those new to the Kamikaze, half way through the ride, it reverses direction and hurtles you toward your death in the opposite direction. For us, this meant backwards, and I can’t say that either of us were handling it very well. I recall looking to my left at one point and seeing Chelsea turning this lovely shade of avocado, and that’s when panic set in for both of us. She tried to hold it in, but eventually her dinner just forced its way out. Now, typing this eight years later, I’m laughing. Heck, every time I tell the story I’m laughing. But right then, NOBODY was laughing. We walked, slowly, to Hastings to clean up a little bit. On the way, I quote Wayne’s World… the bit where Garth feels like he’s going to vomit every time he sees Donna Dixon. She’s unamused. She spends what seems like 3 weeks in the bathroom as I browse used CD’s, nervously eyeballing the door to make sure she doesn’t try to escape. I told her dad I’d bring her home, so I didn’t want her bailing on me!
Eventually she comes back out, and the green tone of her face has been replaced by the redness of crying and embarrassment… I feel AWFUL, but I know if I just take her straight home, it’s all over. So I’m like “No way, man, let’s just go watch a movie at my place.” Of course, once we get there, she has to borrow some of my clothes to change into. Clearly, I was much smaller then. So there, on my $65 garage sale couch, with a tub of Hot Tamales candy between us, we watched probably 80 minutes of Finding Nemo before I had to take her home (10:00 curfew, remember…).
She tells the story of walking back in to her house after I drop her off, and her mom noticing she’s not in her own clothes and raising an eyebrow. “IT WASN’T THAT GOOD OF A DATE, MOM!!!”