Picking up where a left off as if over a month had not gone by since my last post…[ASIDE: Yes, the self-flagellation about my non-blogging will continue until either a) I get my act together, or b) … I get my act together… Whichever comes first.] [2nd ASIDE: And yes, I realize I pepper most of my blogging with 1,728 ellipses per post. Yes, it’s bad writing. What’s missing? Profanities? Am I taking a cigarette break every time? Who knows? Maybe someday I’ll stop… Maybe… Maybe tomorrow…]
As just one of the many filling stations on the Road of Random that is my daily thought process, today I pondered the inevitable question (at least if I ever have a daughter; I somehow doubt my sons will care): “How did you know Daddy was The One?”
Will I be forgiven for an answer as prosaic as: “Process of elimination”?
Ouch. That sounds so harsh. And unromantic. And just wrong.
But really, I would never have been able to arrive at the reality that is my life, namely marriage to this man:
… without a journey through a wilderness of some who were most assuredly not said man.
I could not say with any truth that I dated “a lot.” I had way more opportunities than I ever took advantage of, which says more about my avoiding dates than any epidemic of nearsightedness among the guys I encountered. My default position was always, always to say “No,” which I would have re-thought if I’d had even a notion of how tough it is for guys to pose that request. But I didn’t know.
Instead, I lived by the dictum “Never date anyone you wouldn’t want to marry.” So I didn’t.
Couple that with the fact that I was always asked out by the most random guys on campus. A guy at work who thought it was cute to construct a portmanteau of my name plus the word “scab.” I was asked out by at least two different men with broken bones. Casts and all. Wasn’t that Ted Bundy’s modus operandum? Or do I look like the Florence Nightingale type? A guy in my Astronomy lab group who… well, that’s as deep into the memory files as I care to dig.
And I was rarely asked out on a date, per se. In the mid-90s, I surmise, there was a coordinated and campus-wide campaign on behalf of male students to make it a little bit easier for them to ask a girl out on a date. By not asking her on “a date.” Instead, they developed a code.
Such as: “You wanna go grab some coffee?”
To which I always replied (truthfully): “I don’t drink coffee.”
And in my naivete, I never knew this was code for “Let’s go on a date.” I just thought those guys on the Hill were raging caffeine freaks who liked to tromp down to Arsaga’s, drinking lattes amid pictures of naked women with hairy armpits while I had studying to do.
Finally, my roommate explained it for me. And suddenly the skies opened and I knew my life would never be the same…
Well, not really.
Actually, knowing The Code just gave me contempt for every guy who couldn’t man up and actually ask.
I did eventually loosen up and stop saying “no” to every date on principle. I did not date often. But occasionally I lowered my guard long enough for dinner and a movie. I even — to my eternal shame — accepted a date with one guy to make another guy jealous. Not my finest hour.
I got to know guys who were, at the very least, considered — some more seriously than others.
Some of these prospects I disqualified for admittedly petty reasons.
Such as thick wrists. No lie. I waved off a particular guy (incidentally, a notorious “wife-shopper” within my circle) because his wrists didn’t taper enough.
Yes, I am (or was) that shallow.
Others had more serious flaws. Like being rude to wait staff at restaurants. I just couldn’t picture myself as an old woman sitting at a corner booth at Luby’s on a Sunday afternoon and listening to my husband bark at the waitress to bring his prune juice, the same way he’d been doing it for 56 years of marriage. Ugh. Next!
Another guy, the son of a family friend, thought that meeting me at my parents’ house for my weekly laundry stop qualified as a date. And that he could put his head on my lap while I waited for the whites. Ahem.
The beauty part is that casual dating allows you to be that picky. Drooling problem? Ugly tattoo? Criminal record? This is me, moving on.
Which leads us to the hero of our story.
He was probably the first man to honest-to-goodness, call me up out of the blue and ask me out. Points for the home team.
He wore cowboy boots with khaki pants. He asked me to dance.
Yes, I did know after one date.
The most obvious confirmation I had in those early months of our relationship was that we could sit in silence and be comfortable. In between the talking, eighty years of marriage is a lot of silence. It had better be comfortable silence.
He’s generous and considerate. He accepts me for all my flaws. He takes out the trash. He’s a wonderful father. He’s polite to waitresses. He has wrists.
If I could spare a thought for all those other guys who crossed my path when I was dating, I would hope each one found happiness with a woman who can appreciate him.
But I’m too busy thanking God for giving me the man on the carousel.
And showing me a few Mr. Wrongs so I can appreciate how wonderful my husband really is.