I had grown weary of assholes.
For a while, my dating life read like a Buzzfeed article, “20 Blind Date Horror Stories Sure to Make You Cry Until You Laugh So Hard You’ll Cry Again”. Time after insufferable time, I’d meet a guy who, by all appearances, seemed worthy of my time, only to prove very early on just how little time he spent in line when the universe handed out manners and social skills. After my summer fling flung itself out the window, I’d decided to give the whole online dating thing one last shot before placing myself on the shelf for a much needed sabbatical.
And then, I got a message. From him.
There’s an art to the delicate dance of exchanging messages when engaging potential dates online. Say too much and you’re written off as a crazy over sharer. Too little and you’re left wondering perhaps there’s a red room, or worse, a parole officer and hidden bodies behind all that mystery.
His note was short, but proved he’d consumed my entire profile beginning to end, and his assertiveness in contacting me first oozed just the right amount of confidence to prompt a a click over and see what he was all about.
At first glance, he was everything that intimidated me in a man; attractive, outgoing, smart, and funny. His lengthy profile (and it was lonnnnnng…that’s what she said…ha!) established some pretty high standards and lofty goals for himself and his potential partner. The site we used featured a compatibility score based on questions covering a variety of subjects. Ours was something ludicrous, above 90%, which seemed simultaneously ridiculous and intriguing. I’d just begun the process of getting my mojo back, or finding it for the first time ever? Either way, I had a good gut feeling about this guy, and with a year post divorce under my belt, the typical, bubbling insecure voice that usually screamed “THEY’RE ALL GONNA LAUGH AT YOU” stayed at bay, so…I responded.
Many, many, many messages later, we were still talking. Then he asked me to dinner.
Ho. Lee. Shitballs.
Here’s the part where I tell you about how I’m not a girl who generally rattles easily. Blood? Puke? Slasher movies? Not even a blink of an eye. Granted, I cry at those stupid Folgers commercials at Christmas time, the ones with the son who returns home from some far off land, and starts a pot of coffee the second he walks into the house, instead of, I don’t know, TAKING A SHOWER, which, how selfless of him, right? Coffee? That’s some thoughtful shit right there, and now I’m not crying, YOU’RE CRYING, nope, I’m crying. Anyway. Aside from sappy commercials (damn you ASPCA, TAKE ALL MY DOLLARS), I’m pretty even keeled.
The exception? Sushi with THIS GUY.
It was July, and the day of our date (a Friday…the 22nd…but who’s counting) was icky, sticky, and hot. I decided to forego my usual first date uniform of something black, and injected a little color because why not just buck the system from all angles? Blue dress, white sweater, strappy wedge sandals (these were both an awful and fantastic choice…more on that in a bit). Normally, I’d have worn something more casual, but he was meeting me after work, and was coming from NYC, so I upped my outfit game a smidge to keep up.
We agreed to meet at a spot near his local train station, and I spent the almost 40 minute drive there uncharacteristically, excitedly nervous. What was this crazy flippy feeling in my stomach? So odd. I arrived first, parked, and texted him something that I normally would NEVER say in real life, letting him know I was there, and that I was the cutie in the white SUV.
Cutie? WHO SAYS THAT? The writer in me still feels shame for using that term, all these months later. If nothing else, and in my defense, it proves just how nervous I was.
I watched as his car pulled in, and he stepped out. He was tall. And very well dressed, in a crisp white shirt and green dress pants. I slid out of my car and as I walked towards him, he smiled…I was about to say he smiled at me, but that’s not accurate. It was more than that. He had these beautiful, sky blue eyes, and he smiled through me. I remember it gave me chills. Then we hugged. It was tight, and enveloping.
This was about to be…something.
In the interest of time, and because I could wax poetic for pages and pages about how our conversation flowed flawlessly, and how he didn’t even bat an eye when he spilled a tiny bit of soy sauce on his shirt, and how we discovered we had SO many things in common, and how I tried gauging his interest level and couldn’t get a good read, even when he asked to continue our outing at another venue for a drink, (duh, if you’re relocating, it’s a safe bet it’s on like Donkey Kong) I’ll fast forward to the end of the evening, as we walked back to our cars, and I was pretty sure things were going well, until…remember those strappy sandals? How about a little first date math!
Strappy wedge sandals + swanky town cobblestone sidewalks + stupid weak ankles = Sherry almost biting it.
But, he caught me before I splayed out on the ground, with my dress over my head, which honestly would’ve been best case scenario. It could’ve been ugly, but he grabbed my arm and we carried on.
He escorted me to my car, and we stood there for a moment or three, recapping what a great time we’d had, but all I could think about was, “Is this dude gonna kiss me OR WHAT?”
Now, I need to stress just how important a first kiss is. It sets the tone for whatever comes next. It’s EVERYTHING. A bad first kiss is a deal breaker and bad kissers are bad FOREVER. There’s no recovering from a disastrous first kiss, ever, and it ruins everything that might have been. Every time there’s a bad kiss, a unicorn dies. It’s mostly pressure on the man (sorry, guys) to pull out all the stops and make an impression. When it’s good, the sky’s the limit. When it’s bad, it’s a screeching halt to everything. And then, the unicorn.
This freaking guy, pulls me in and kisses me.
Wait. That wasn’t it at all. *clears throat* Let me try that again…
We stood there, close, in the warm, heavy air of the evening, full from amazing food and riveting conversation and obvious chemistry. I thanked him for a fabulous time, and he thanked me, too. He smiled that crazy bright smile before slipping his arm around my waist and pulling me so close it startled me to gasp, but in a way that felt safe and just right. My hands instinctively found his broad shoulders, and he finally kissed me. The kiss startled me, too, in the best way possible. We said our goodnights, again, and went our separate ways.
It was the best first kiss I ever had.
That was six months ago.
Since then, he’s showed up time and time again, in all different ways, ready to embark on whatever shenanigans I throw his way. Hell, I suggested on our 3rd date we drive go karts. Two grown adults, squeezing into tiny vehicles powered by lawn mower motors, in the dead of summer, clad in huge helmets looks about as ridiculous as it sounds, and yet? Our sweaty asses had the time of our lives. He makes me dinner, and makes me think about life, and the future, and politics, and if I’ve locked my doors, goddamnit, LOCK YOUR DOORS, Sherry, and worries about me, and whether I got home late at night, or if I got decent financing on my new car, and teaches me new things, like how to operate a snowmobile, or drive stick in the snow, and besides listening to my daughter sing her little heart out to the YouTube video du jour, or hearing my son explain the inner workings of his Lego Technic set that he’s using to rewire our garage door opener, seeing this guy is the best part of my week.
I mean, he’s out awesomed Taco Tuesday. THAT’S SAYING SOMETHING.