It was a beautiful Spring that year. Blue bonnets and Indian paints were popping up everywhere. I was 19 years old, almost 20. I’d finally ditched the college boyfriend because I had that epiphany where I realized that his mom and my mom were both right; I was too good to keep letting this boy use me for my hard-earned paychecks and homemade peanut butter cookies. Then, one Wednesday afternoon he called, and for a moment I wondered if I shouldn’t just go back.
I can’t imagine why, at 19 years old, I was terrified of being alone my whole life. I was certain no one was going to really want to love me. My sister thought I was being a moron. Easy for her to say, she was 5’8″ and 115 pounds. I was 5’5″ and a helluva lot thicker! We were cussing and discussing the matter as we drove to Wal-mart to pick up a headlight for my car. I still remember, I was wearing a pair of army green shorts and my Popeye the Sailor-man T’shirt. My long dishwater blonde hair was braided in pigtails, and I barely had any make-up on. Maybe a brush of mascara and some lip gloss.
My sister decided to prove to me that boyfriends were easy enough to find, and she opened the hood of my car to play damsel in distress. Sure enough, it was working like a charm when embarrassment got the best of me and I shut the hood and got in the car to leave. Just one more boy came running, and that Wednesday, in the Wal-Mart parking lot, I found a gem.
He left the store that day with my number in his pocket, but I never thought he’d call. An hour later he was on the other end of the line asking me to a movie. He says it was my smile that won him over. I love when he says that. Of course my sister insisted on tagging along, and it made for the most embarrassing date of all time. First, we drove to two different theaters but we had missed the last movie start times at both. Then we decided to rent movies and watch them at his apartment.
For some reason I totally trusted him, and then I was secretly questioning whether I was the most naïve girl in history to be headed to a stranger’s apartment. I could tell at Blockbuster he was doing his best to impress me when he chose “Bridges Over Madison County” and “A Walk in the Clouds” to rent. Chick flicks, all the way.
We arrived at this apartment, and it was so tidy. The lumpy old couch didn’t show its springs, but when I sat down on it they sure did give me a poke. He laid down on the floor and made himself comfortable and we tried to watch the first movie, but really ended up talking and laughing more than anything. Then, my sister got up to go to the bathroom, and for some crazy reason, she decided to step on him, right on his stomach.
That’s when he farted, and his face turned beet red. My sister laughed so hard that she farted too, and I sat there, dumfounded, wondering how I ended up on a date in an apartment full of farts. Shortly after that he drove us home, but after my sister got out of the car, he asked if I wanted to go back.
Uh-oh…. there it was. The moment every girl dreads. Do you follow your heart, or listen to the rules in your brain? I felt this electrified connection to him and yet I knew what most guys were chasing wasn’t a happily ever after. I decided to give my brain a rest and I got back in the car. I remember thinking “I could marry this guy.” After two hours of talking, I knew two things for certain: he would forever and always be an amazing dad and life with him wouldn’t have a dull moment in it. I was right about both.
For that entire first week, he picked me up everyday when he got off work, and he took me home every morning just a few minutes before my parents’ alarm was set for. Finally one morning my step-dad issued a warning, that if I stayed out all night with that boy one more time, he’d have to keep me, forever. I passed on the warning, and completely expected him to take me home early that night, but instead, he said “pack your things, I’ll keep you!”
And that he did. Those days in that little one bedroom apartment were magical. It was the whole love-at-first-sight fairy-tale kind of story. Then of course the bumps and bruises came our way, but somehow we’ve made it through them. Wednesday, that young guy who leaned in my window and got my number turned 40 years old! How did that happen so fast? I’m not really sure, but I have an amazing surprise in store for him this weekend, something I think might just let him know that I still think he’s Prince Charming when he’s not farting, and I still love to dance the night away in his arms!