First date: - 10.30.86
Her smiles, her frowns, Her ups, her downs
Are second nature to me now; Like breathing out and breathing in.
Lyrics from “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face,” My Fair Lady
It is difficult to remember life before Lisa, but I can certainly recount events in the of Fall 1986. I didn't know that semester would set the course for the rest of my life but it did.
One of my official duties as 1986-87 Tennessee Temple University Student Body President was to welcome the 500 or so new freshman at a reception. The student body officers and university administration formed a receiving line to shake hands with the students and many of their parents.
“Nice to meet you.”
“Where are you from?”
“What do you intent to study while here?”
“I’m meeting about 250 new chicks tonight.”
“I’ve got to work fast.”
“I’ll pick out about three who seem datable and then get to work.”
That’s when I first saw her.
Girl-Next-Door Attractive? Check.
Shorter than me? Check.
Not too much make-up? Check.
Not too shy? Check.
Not too bold? Check.
She made my list, as did a couple of other young women. I would like to say that there was more to it than that but there wasn’t. It was shallow and superficial but hey, I was 21 years old.
Although I initially set out to get to know all three women a little better there was one that quickly began to occupy more of my thoughts and efforts. We shared a class together – a freshman-level course that I put off until my senior year.
She came to watch a Saturday intramural flag football game and afterward I asked if she needed a ride back to campus. She did. I was hot, sweaty, and dirty. She told me she liked that my hair was curly (I had an elaborate morning routine to straighten the curls but getting caught in the rain or vigorous exercise brought out the curl). That next morning I let it curl naturally hoping she would notice. She did and I’ve not straightened it since.
About a week later on a Friday evening, I wandered into the campus student center hoping she might be there. She was, along with four freshman friends. They told me they were bored and without a car. I volunteered to take them wherever they wanted to go.
“Five girls, me, a full car, someone would have to sit in the middle next to me. Please let it be her.”
It wasn’t. One of the others squeezed in. Crap!
We went downtown and messed around. We rode a glass elevator at one of the hotels. When we got back in the car she was in the middle. Close. Next to me. Excellent!
There was a play coming up, Elizabeth the Queen. I was the Assistant Director. Opening night was Thursday, October 30, 1986. After class I asked,
“Would you like to go with me to the play on Thursday night?”
“I’d love to.”
I picked her up at the dorm and we walked to the auditorium. She looked beautiful. I would later find out it was a borrowed dress. It probably wasn’t the most romantic of first dates. As Assistant Director of the play I was kind of “working.” I even had to go back stage during intermission. She was patient and understanding. After the play I walked her back to the dorm and we exchanged pleasantries.
That was it. No goodnight kiss, no serendipitous dance in the moonlight, no soul-searching conversation. Still, there was something.
The next day was Halloween so I went to the store and bought a plastic pumpkin and filled it with candy. I presented it to her at the cafeteria. We made plans that night to attend the campus haunted house.
On Sunday of that weekend I remember sitting at the pay phone in the dorm making my weekly collect call home. Every week when we talked my mother would ask, “Met anyone special yet.” My answer was always the same, “No, no one special mom.” This particular Sunday my answer was different, “Well, actually yes.” Mom’s first follow-up question was, “Is she shorter than you?”
It would be six weeks before the first kiss. Six months before I told her I loved her (seven months before she told me – ouch!). A year before we got engaged. Two years before we got married. Eighteen years to the day before I would be writing about our first date.