I guess that I can’t tell this story without a little background. I was working at Crossroads Industries, a Park Model Home Manufacturing plant as a purchasing manager. One day at work a fellow employee approached me by the name of Bill Lowe. It seemed his wife had a friend that was looking to meet a nice guy and somehow Bill thought that I fit the bill (no pun intended there). At the time, I wasn’t looking at myself in the most positive light. In my mind I was a severely flawed individual with close to no redeeming qualities. A bad marriage, epic breakup and feelings of self-loathing were more of an accurate description of me. If Bill had wandered up to me at that time and instead said that his wife was looking for a pathetic loser to set up with her friend then maybe I would have begrudgingly accepted. Any way after dismissing the idea several times I finally relented. My initial reluctance to the idea of a blind date was because hearing the words “my wife has this friend” conjured up images of a girl unfit to wander the dating pool without assistance, a kind of socially handicapped misfit. But then again maybe she would meet me and surmise the same. At any rate I went about my week looking to the night ahead.
Fast forward to “The” night, my first and soon to be only blind date. I was in the habit of working more hours that I should have, two jobs at times just to be anywhere other than in the crummy one room apartment I shared with my brother. That is another story for another time. That day I hurried home oddly excited about the prospect of meeting this girl, Kelly. Bill had spent the past few days telling me all about her, he described her long hair, her brilliant smile and her deep blue eyes. He described her as tall, model tall. He explained to me that she had just gotten out of a pretty nasty relationship and was looking to meet some “nice guys.” Still apprehensive about my role in this and making several observations along the way like, why am I relying on Bill’s description of her? Did I trust Bill to be a matchmaker, to know a girl who would be perfect for me? As a mater of fact Bill had even told me I was his second choice, his first choice had been Johnny, a woodworker and cabinet guy from New York. Johnny was a real ladies man; he had a thick Brooklyn accent, wore a big gold chain with a gold cross and frequently did his job in these undershirt tank tops which I imagined was an effort to show off his tattoos. I have to admit, this guy had something going on. The difference between Johnny and myself were huge and this caused my apprehension to mount, after all, guys like Johnny got the hot girls not guys like me. So the choice for Bill was Cool Johnny or Eric and for reasons unknown to me Bill never relented in asking me, perhaps he asked Johnny, I’ll never know. Back to the pre-date ritual, I quickly showered and looked in my closet. My father had raised me on a set of philosophies one of which is that you can never re-do a first impression. Now keep in mind, I was a divorced guy who had a very low opinion of himself and had carefully over the past few months cultivated what I thought was a pretty good look. Sure, I had my work outfit but the afterhours me was determined to show a bit of the rough style with a touch of Ralph Lauren. Don’t ask me, I look back and want to cry. Anyway, I put on my best pair of rough worn jeans, snake skin boots and a red flannel button up shirt with a stylized button up long john shirt underneath topping it off with a new snakeskin belt I had purchased. I combed the few hairs that I had remaining into the now fading Lee Majors hairstyle I had pulled off most of my life and exited the bathroom ready. At this point the stars aligned and an intervention of biblical proportions occurred. As I walked to the door my brother shouted out these words to me, “You are seriously going to wear that out tonight to meet a girl?” Andrew wasn’t sure if I was going on a date or heading to some fancy lad rodeo. I froze in my tracks and he walked over to me. He yanked my shirt out and said “that’s gotta go, tugged on my long john shirt and asked me if I was Jed Clampett, proceeded pointed at my belt and asked me what in the hell that was. He tugged at my jeans and told me that 1970 had called and wanted its jeans back and then just shook his head as he gazed at my boots. You see, Andrew was a fashion God. Sometime around his sophomore year of High School Andrew became the walking embodiment of a Ralph Lauren Model; it was all about style for Andrew. Colors for every season, seasons for every color. He never wore anything that didn’t have a reason or specific purpose or message.
So we returned to the closet we shared and he told me to take it all off. So there I am, standing in my bedroom in my shorts while Andrew is tossing things out of the closet. A pair of Khaki slacks, a button up pinstripe Ralph Lauren shirt and a cordovan belt to match the meticulously polished tasseled loafers he had in his hand as he exited the closet. He walked over to his drawer and tossed a pair of socks that I wouldn’t have touched prior to this if you had paid me. They were argyle socks that perfectly blended the shirt, pants and sweater he had picked to finish off the ensemble. I stood in front of the mirror and what I say horrified me but at the same time I thought what the hell, what I had been doing hadn’t worked up until now, I was meeting a girl that was either going to dump me because she was just too tall, beautiful and intelligent for me or she was a socially retarded misfit that couldn’t get a date on her own, either way I was doomed and the “look” wasn’t going to make the difference. Another of my father’s philosophies entered into my head, go big, dream big or go home, so I was in, going big. As I left my brother stopped me one last time and handed me my glasses and said, “trust me she’ll think your successful.” Thinking back on that I am not sure how I feel but off I went.
Now me being me I arrived at Bill’s house a full half an hour early. I sat parked down the street a bit planning to pull up to the house at the exact time, another of my father’s philosophies, never, ever be late, an ironic twist for him since my mothers mission in life seemed to be pushing the limits of that particular philosophy past the breaking point. As I sat there all the demons that haunt men twisted in and out of my head. By now I was convinced that this girl would be a goddess, Bill’s description of her had painted a portrait on the canvas of my mind of the most awe-inspiring girl imaginable. Those demons were telling me to tuck tail and run, just turn around and go home, you’re just going to have your heart broken, she is going to see right through you. I looked in the mirror, looked at my new outfit and was slowly convincing myself that I wasn’t good enough for this girl and the irony was that I had not even met her in person yet! But, then it happened, the time had arrived and after questioning my sanity for a full half an hour I put my maroon Toyota Corolla into drive and coasted down the street and to a stop in front of Bill’s house. I took one last look at myself in the mirror and opened the door walking as fast as I could to the door. I rang the doorbell and it seemed to take forever for someone to answer it. Bill opened the door and showed me in and my worst fear came true. Sitting on the couch was the single most beautiful girl I had ever seen. Now I had met Bill’s wife in the past so I knew that it wasn’t her. Maybe it was the babysitter, we were going to the movies as part of this blind date thing. I wanted to look around and see who else was there, maybe the girl I was being set up with was in the other room, I didn’t know but it didn’t take long for me to find out because the statuesque beauty on the couch got up and walked over to me and said in the voice of an angel, “Hi, I’m Kelly.” Now for the record I can’t say what actually happened at that moment. All that I can say is that when she stood up and walked over towards me my hear actually stopped beating, the lack of blood flow is probably the reason that the memory is frozen at this point and failing to record. She was everything a guy could have hoped for and more. She had on some kind of elf boots, not the Santa kind but the cute sexy kind and color, she looked like color had exploded all over her. Tight leggings that expressed a vibrant personality, a bulky sweater and the hair, so long and so blond and so beautiful but it was the eyes. This is the kind of girl who didn’t need to ever smile because her eyes smiled for her, so crisp and blue I was lost. I had only ever dated one girl that was taller than I was, until this day that is. Not hidden very well because of her choice of pants were legs that stretched from the ground to heaven. When I say that this girl was amazing, amazing doesn’t even describe amazing.
Now my default position has always been to talk when I am nervous so I regressed to my default position. We sat on the couch and I just vomited words but somewhere along the way somewhere in the middle of my verbal vomit I stopped myself because if didn’t want to ruin it, to ruin something that hadn’t even begun. The amazing thing is that I could tell that she sensed my nervousness and so she began to talk. She told me that she had just returned home after working in Virginia for a few years, that she has missed Arizona and friends. Hard fought seconds of uncertainty and heart stopping fear eased and she turned the corner for me. I began to unclench a bit when we were informed that dinner was ready. We all sat at a makeshift table and dished up our food, chicken, rice and a vegetable. Nerves still being fresh and raw and me not wanting to screw this up because Lord knows I am not a smooth operator I nervously ate my food and without missing a beat She ripped into me about how I was eating but not in a mean way, in a fun playful way. I hope she never noticed but I took every single chance to steal a glance at her, hoping that this wouldn’t end and if it did at least I would have enough to carry a mental portrait of the most beautiful girl I had ever seen.
We finished dinner and the sitter arrived to watch Bill and Patti’s kids and we were off to see the movie “Hook.” I was still nervous because while every guy I knew had a move, the move that made dates progress I didn’t, my moves had been locked away, forgotten for a lot of reasons but gone none the less so again the nerves began to quake and the demons were back. I sat in the backseat with hands folded, palms sweating and as rigid as a guy could be as we drove to the theatre. Again, I think she could tell I was nervous because as we exited the car and began the long walk to the theater she reached out and grabbed my had. Physical contact! She must like me or at least this means she doesn’t hate me. My heart began to slow and maybe, just maybe I wouldn’t blow this. Now here is the part where this girl owned me, the part of the story where she took my heart and the part where I hoped she would hold onto it and never, ever let it go. As the movie began and because she had made the first move by grabbing my hand in the parking lot as we walked to the theater I reached over and touched her hand. It was a moment, that moment, the moment where vulnerability is right there and rejection is a real possibility, but we held hands. Now most people talk about their first kiss. The moment where the world stops spinning and everything just seems perfect and perceptible. The moment where the world is unspoiled and your vision of the world is so pure and so vivid that if you wanted to you could see the individual wing flaps of a hummingbird as it feeds as though it were in slow motion. Anything and everything becomes possible in that moment, it is perfection. Now I couldn’t tell you a single thing about the movie, I don’t remember anything but what I do remember is the moment I shared with the most perfect creature God had created. Our hands embraced, they danced, tickled, they told each other stories, lived a life experiencing the full range of emotions. I know that this will sound ridiculous to some, but to those few who have truly experienced a moment like this with someone who is without a doubt their soul mate, their other half, their oxygen, their sun their everything, you will know what I am talking about. It wasn’t the kiss, it wasn’t sex, it wasn’t money or success or fortune or any of the other lame reasons that people connect or form a bond, it was 2 hours of heaven and all that I had done was hold hands with a girl. As we left the theater I couldn’t help but wonder how perfect life could be if she could make me feel that safe, share a moment like that with me then what could life be like if I greeted every single day for the rest of this mortal life being in her presence?
Now I will be the first to admit that I am a hopeless romantic and that I have the capability of totally screwing up everything by smothering it to death like an eager puppy that doesn’t know its limits. Fear again crept into the mix, was I reading too much into this? Maybe she was just bored with the movie and my hand was merely a distraction. After all Hook was kind of a kiddy movie and this girl looked like she was a girl who owned the world. Maybe my moment wasn’t a moment. We had said our goodbyes to Bill and Patti and now stood in the street during that awkward part of a date. I had the same old questions running though my mind, should I kiss her or just hug her, should I extend my hand out for a kind of formal end to thins. She put gloves on so that must have meant that she was either cold or had grown weary of my touch. In the end we just talked, a lot and that was a new thing for me. Not that talking was new but when I say we talked I mean we talked about things of substance, politics, relationships, wants and desires for life. This girl seemed to want more of me, and I could tell because she listened as I talked. And I listened as she talked because her voice soothed me, and her words seemed genuine. It wasn’t vain hollow banter, the kind of talking just to pass time this was exploratory conversation, next level stuff, the kind of talking that means maybe she wants to see me again. At the end of that night I opened her car door for her and as she got in the car I kissed her, and it wasn’t a moment like what had happened in the movie theater, it was more of a sad moment for me, it meant that this night was over, that she would drive off and there existed the possibility that I wouldn’t see her again, that she would get home and come to her senses. The only glimmer of hope is that we had made tentative plans to see each other gain the next day and that gave me hope, there was a chance.
I didn’t sleep that night, all that I could think about was that moment, holding her delicate hand, feeling her flawless skin. I recalled kissing her, she had amazing lips and those eyes, I could get lost in those eyes, I was lost in those eyes even at that moment. I couldn’t wait to see her. The night passed and the next day I called. To my surprise she answered and seemed eager to see me again which was a shock since I was convinced she would have come to some alternative conclusion by now. My only problem about the arrangement we made was that I hadn’t ever been to her house and since it was winter the nights came earlier and the darkness was my nemesis. So I hoped in my car and drove the route. I counted streetlights in the daylight and made several dry runs to ensure that I wouldn’t get lost getting there that night. That day seemed like the longest and cruelest day of my life, time taunted me and it reminded me of when I was a boy and I would get dressed for baseball hours before a game and pace the floor waiting in painful anticipation.
Night came and I found myself just as nervous as I had been the previous night. Me being me I arrived again well ahead of the time I was to meet her. We hadn’t made any plans to speak of, we were just going to talk, get to know each other. What you have to know is that this made me anxious, getting to know me meant that she would discover things about me that I had removed from the slate, buried deep in the ground. I had met the most incredible girl ever and exposing myself, my life, my flaws would certainly drive a wedge between us. I had not even begun this thing yet I was afraid that what could be would never be and the realization that this dream come true girl named Kelly could simply vanish seemed all to real.
So, there we were, sitting on the couch in her mother’s house. Me sitting rigid, her seated next to me Indian style on the couch and we began to share the stories of our lives. We held hands and each opened painful doors exposing our fears and our frailties each feeling a connection yet somehow each feeling that as we shared what doesn’t get talked about, no judgments would be passed that night. In the end I think that we both learned that we were essentially the same person, each a mirror image of each other. We were hurt souls betrayed by people we had trusted and loved. We both had pasts that we wanted to hold onto not as a crutch but as a reminder of where we never wanted to be again. As she talked and as she listened to me talk I can tell you now that I fell in love, deep, sloppy, messy love. I had found what most men spend a lifetime trying to find and that was their other half, the half that made them whole. I had found the person who could inspire me to be more than just the sad pathetic guy I had spun down to. And what amazes me to this day is that she still inspires me and she still loves me, yup we got married and I hope and pray that every day of my life I return the favor and inspire her. Remember guys and gals, a moment can happen at any time, it can be a look, a touch a conversation or just holding hands on a blind date. Don’t miss your moment because that single moment can sustain you for every moment that follows.
I love you Kelly Rose. Thank you for being my inspiration. Thank you for giving me my moment.