Barb at A New Chelsea Morning is asking readers to share their stories of how they met their mate (head over there to read some sweet stories!). I’ve been thinking of telling you this story for a while. It’s a good one, but it’s excruciatingly lo-o-o-ong. Grab your Diet Coke and prop up your feet (or, move on to the next blog, you won’t hurt my feelings…)
It was February of 1993, my junior year of college. A student ministry group I attended occasionally was having a lock-in one Friday night at a local church’s family-life center. I almost didn’t go. I was only three months off a painful break-up, and I was feeling rather unsocial, particularly where the male of our species was concerned. My girlfriends talked me into going.
At the time, I had a part-time job at an after-school daycare program, and I got off around 6:30 pm. I drove straight to the lock-in–I was tired and hungry and in NO mood to meet the love of my life. In the meantime, Hubs and his group of friends had gotten there early and had been playing basketball in the gym for a couple of hours. He was sweaty and gross, as were his buddies, and they were all on some weird, macho, sports-induced testerone binge. There was a big group there–probably around 150 people–and they opened with one of those silly get-to-know-you games.
This particular icebreaker game involved everyone present being handed a sheet of paper. The whole page was divided into a chart of sorts, probably about eight columns by eight rows. Each little square in the chart had a random fact such as, "I’ve been to Europe", or "I own red underwear", or "I have a motorcycle", etc. The object of the game was to mingle among the group members, find someone to fill in as many squares as possible, and the first person to get eight in a row would win. The winner had to stand up and introduce the people they’d met.
So, the game began, and I browsed through the chart, when I saw a square that read: "I blow my nose in the shower".
Um, excuse me? [Please remember that these were the days before I was the mother of three little boys and I was still grossed out by bodily fluids]. Two thoughts ran through my brain: first, what kind of weirdo would do this, and second, what kind of bigger weirdo would admit to it publicly?
Surely you see where this is going.
The game ended, and the winner stood up to introduce his list of people. He got to the nose-blowing square, the whole room groans, and the winner proudly read, "Hubs Dryer!" Hubs gave a macho wave, and all his basketball buddies slapped him on the back the way 13-year-old boys would after one of their own had made a really great burp in science class. I observed this strange boy across the room and shook my head in disgust. Though I did think to myself that it was a shame he was so tacky, because he was really cute.
That, my friends, is how I first laid eyes on the man I would marry.
Anyhoo, the next item on the agenda for the evening was a scavenger hunt. I had offered to be a driver. They had somehow taken all those people present and assigned them into groups of four or five. As they read the assignments, you can imagine my, um, surprise to see that Hubs Dryer had been assigned to MY GROUP. He walked across the room toward me and I thought to myself, "It’s the nose-blower! I wonder if it’s safe to shake his hand?"
We embarked on the scavenger hunt, the uber-competitve Hubs Dryer sitting in the back seat of my car, leaning up over my shoulder giving specific orders. But I still hadn’t had any dinner, remember? I insisted I had to get some food before we started collecting our items. He-Who-Must-Win-Every-Competition was so frustrated at me, and he made no effort to hide it, snarling from the backseat. (Hubs tells me that I must tell you that I was NOT hungry for food from Mr. Burger, a location we were REQUIRED to go for the hunt, but only hungry for food from McDonalds, which was not on the travel itenerary). His impression of me at this point is that I was a spoiled, bow-headed sorority girl who had to have things JUST. HER. WAY. No-o-o-o, surely not?
[Geez-Louise this story is really getting long…are you still actually reading this?]
After I got my dinner, we found all our items, Hubs and I keeping a safe distant from each other. To make up for lost time, Hubs suggested a back road in our hilly college town. But it was February, and there was ICE on the roads. As he navigated me through dark streets, down a steep hill, we began to slide. (Again, these were the pre-motherhood days when dealing with trauma was not a carefully-cultivated skill of mine.) I took my hands off the wheel and began to scream. Hubs yelled at me from the backseat: "DON’T LET GO OF THE WHEEL!" I screamed back: "I CAN’T DO THIS, WE’RE SLIDING!" Yes, it was a real bluebirds-and-roses moment, as we sat there shouting at each other and almost careening to our deaths. Good times.
We managed to make it back to the lock-in, where Hubs and I stomped away from each other, never to speak again that evening. Thank goodness, first impressions don’t stick.
Strangely, we began running into each other almost daily, in the most random places–the library, the student union, the hallway after class, etc. We laughed at our less-than-stellar first meeting and began to talk. I went to a Saturday-night party at his fraternity house a few weeks later, and we sat in a corner and talked for a couple of hours–we never seemed to run out of things to say. I was fascinated by this strange man: a macho nose blower? Perhaps. But he fascinated me. He was a cut-up, yet he was serious and brilliant. He was gentlemanly and kind, yet he was also logical and driven. He could make me laugh until my sides hurt one minute, and then ask me something deeply profound the next. I’d never met anyone like him.
We had our first date two months after our first meeting, and the rest, as they say, is history. After our third date, I came home and told my roommate I had found the man I would marry. When we had been dating a month we began to talk of marriage. We fell for each other very, very fast. Seven months after our first date we were engaged, and seven months after that, in June of ’94, we were married (three weeks after we graduated from college).
I laugh at this story now when I look at the man I share my life with. We have changed and grown so much from those two stubborn college kids–and yet, we still laugh and good-naturedly tussle just the way we did then. And still we never run out of things to say. Just this past Saturday evening, we sat side-by-side in a McDonald’s playland, watching our four kids play. Adam was shouting at the video game, Stephen and Joseph were making siren noises from inside the tunnels, and Corrie stood next to us, pouring Sprite down the front of her shirt. I looked at him, and he looked at me. "Our Saturday nights have changed a lot over the last 12 years, haven’t they?" I laughed. He reached over and took my hand and smiled at me, the same way he smiled at me in that fraternity house 13 years ago. And he winked.
That said it all.