Saturday, February 16, 2008

Dating Disasters Redux

Okay, it's been awhile AND it's a re-run, but in light of our recent Valentine's Day disaster, I thought I'd re-run this one:

In my life, I have managed to get through certain situations with what has been, for me anyway, a surprising degree of poise and aplomb. I would like to include in these events my dating history. I could tell you of wonderful dates, where I was dazzling, charming and the embodiment of grace. I might tell tales of captivated young men who were so entranced by my charms that I never spent a Saturday night alone. I could probably do a reasonably convincing job, too, if any of it were true.

The sad reality though, is that I didn’t really date much in high school. And by "not much" I mean "not at all." I remember Prom night, which I spent with my best friend at a movie where we ingested embarrassingly large amounts of chocolate in an attempt to console ourselves. My dad was sweet about it all. He was convinced that my dateless status was a direct result of my intimidating beauty and above average intelligence. I would really like to believe that the young men in Utah had to settle for dating less spectacular girls, like those on the cheerleading squad, while suffering from afar with unrequited love for me. However the real answer was somewhat different. For those boys who actually seemed aware of my existence, I was just a "buddy." Just why any guy would seek my advice when it came to dating was mystifying to me. It seemed rather like asking Ozzy Osbourne for religious counsel. Nevertheless, I did my best to point my friends in the direction of the "nice" girls. I was the one they came to when they wanted to know how to approach their dream girl. I offered high fives when they successfully landed a date, and I gave comfort and sympathy when they were shot down. Still, I wished that someday I'd find a guy who might look at me and see more than a pal or "one of the guys."

After high school, things changed. I met boys who hadn't known me since I was six. I attended a university where there was a whole male population who hadn't been informed that my role in life was to be a buddy. I was still shy, so it wasn't quite the social whirl I had hoped it would be, but I still received a gratifying amount of attention. That's when I learned first hand about the dating disasters I'd only heard about. Little things like forgetting a date's name, or worse, having him forget mine. I got the night wrong, once and greeted my date at the door in pajamas and a ponytail. There was one date in particular though, that will always stand out in my mind as the absolute most disastrous date of all time.

My date was a guy named Eric. He was nice enough, I suppose, but I hadn’t been terribly interested in dating him. He was a great pal, but I had concerns about turning a friend into a date. Too often I had seen good friendships destroyed by the attempt to make them more. But I’m not completely heartless, so after declining a few times, I finally agreed to go out with him. We went to a movie at the drive-in theater. Eric parked his truck and situated the speaker on the window. The movie started and he scooted toward me. I, assuming that he simply needed more room, obligingly scooted closer to my door. I am nothing if not considerate. A few minutes later, Eric scooted again and, again, wanting to be thoughtful, I scooted too. When he scooted the third time, I was too close to the door to move any further, so I did the first thing that came to mind. I opened the door and stepped out of the truck. Once I was standing outside, it dawned on me what had happened, and I felt quite foolish, so I just stood there for a moment trying to decide what to do. Hoping to salvage the situation, I just smiled, leaned through the window and said, “Hey! There’s much more room out here! Why don’t you come on out?”

After the movie, we went for a walk along the shore of Utah Lake. In retrospect, I think it was supposed to be romantic. The gnats, mosquitoes and sand fleas really didn’t add much to the ambience he was looking for, however. We walked out onto the dock, since, presumably the moon looked different there then it did on shore. At about that point he attempted to put his arm around me. As I’ve said, my dating experience was limited. But I grew up with three brothers, so when I saw his arm swing toward me, I instinctively anticipated a blow. I ducked and accidentally knocked him off balance. I have to admit, he was very nice about his unplanned baptism in the lake. I was mortified. I was also trying very hard not to laugh. I finally managed to gain enough composure to suggest that he take me home so he could get to his apartment before hypothermia set in. Out of a mixed sense of guilt, compassion and hilarity I even told Eric that he didn’t need to walk me to my door. He insisted though and sloshed and squished his way out of the truck. He escorted me to the door, which I immediately began to unlock. At that point, it didn’t even occur to me that he’d try to kiss me. That explains why I was so startled when I turned back a little too quickly to tell him goodnight. Eric was 6’3” to my 5'7" so suddenly finding his face that close was completely unexpected. I’m sure he found it equally unexpected when my forehead collided with his nose. As he stood there trying to staunch the flow of blood from his nose, I helpfully handed him a tissue while I tried to think of something to say. Somehow “Let’s do this again sometime!” didn’t seem quite right.

When I returned from serving an LDS mission, I was a little apprehensive about dating again. It’s probably best that Michael approached slowly and cautiously. He blames this on the fact that he had also returned recently from serving a mission and was even more out of practice than I was. I agree that his dating technique really did need work. His method of asking me out was generally along the lines of "I have to see this play for a class and I don't want to go alone. Want to come along?" He also very smoothly let me know he was available by telling me about a girl he seemed to spend an awful lot of time with. Once again, I thought I was playing the role of dating advisor. Once I did realize we were dating, though, I managed to create opportunities for potential disaster. We had attended one event together that was interrupted by a man who took a hostage and threatened to detonate a bomb in the building. Fortunately, it ended well and other than causing a lasting fear of crowded auditoriums, it did make a good story.

"One day we can tell our children about this." I said. Michael looked at me oddly, and I realized I could have phrased my thoughts better. I felt my ears turn red and my face begin to burn as I stammered "Well I don't mean OUR children--I'm not saying that we'll have children TOGETHER." I thought that sounded a little rude, and rather than just changing the subject, I continued my plunge into the abyss of social humiliation. "Not that I don't WANT to have children with you..." Even worse. "Not that I'm saying I DO want to have children with you, I just..." I trailed off as I saw his shoulders shake with laughter. It's probably fortunate that he proposed not long after that. Had he waited any longer, I might have scared him away completely. On the other hand, I sometimes think he married me for sheer entertainment value.

The great thing was, we had been friends in the beginning, and he proved that not only is it possible to turn a best friend into something more, it's the best way to go.
To my great joy and delight, I learned that my best friend has made the best husband I could wish for. Romance is nice but the day to day living is much more fun when I can do it with someone who understands me so well. And I understand him. Most of the time anyway. He doesn't even mind the occasional accidental bloody nose. Not that he gets them often. I’m pleased to say that I have learned what it means when he scoots closer while we watch a movie. It definitely doesn't mean he wants more room. I know that when Mike scoots closer to me, it means that he’ll lean in very close, brush my hair back from my face, look deeply into my eyes and ask, “Do we have any popcorn?”