He followed me first. On twitter, of course, which wasn’t as alarming as, say, following me down a dimly-lit sidewalk devoid of any conceivable witnesses. Still, the possibility of potential and unnerving mental instability was very real.
As it is when any woman meets a man. Or man meets a woman. Hell, when anyone meets anyone.
We shared a few lighthearted and witty 140 character exchanges, mostly about football and heavy metal. His avatar highlighted his brown hair, mysteriously dark brown eyes and well-groomed beard. His fearless humor and unapologetic stances on issues from foreign policy to newly-imposed NFL penalties were intriguing. It wasn’t long until public tweets turned into private messages that turned into exchanged phone numbers. It was all very romantic, I assure you, as only 21st century, “it’s not real unless it’s on the internet” romance can be.
When he haphazardly asked me to join him for drinks and dinner, I obliged without much hesitation. We had enough in common and had enough to argue about that holding an actual conversation without imposed word limits seemed probable. Which is, no doubt, an assurance most aren’t blessed with when agreeing to a first date. He allowed me to pick the venue, which I appreciated, as I had a very public, well-lit, and whiskey-filled restaurant in mind. If anything were to go awry there’d be a plethora of strangers to save me from certain and horrific death, cocktails to numb the pain, and a decent happy hour menu.
Having sufficiently studied the only picture of him I had at my disposal, I came to the conclusion that he was short. Any man with devastatingly dark features and god-like facial hair has to be under 5 foot 8. So, I meticulously prepared for a Friday night rendezvous sans high heels. A pair usually used to boost self-confidence was left behind, in favor of black flip flops. Nothing is worse than towering over a potential romantic interest so jeans, a black albeit sexy off-the shoulder shirt and flippy floppies would have to do. Casually flawless. I could try, at least.
I drove myself to the very public, well-lit and whiskey-filled restaurant where we would meet. He had arrived before me and asked if he could order me a drink so it would be waiting. My heart skipped a beat. I politely asked that he order a Jack and Coke as I frantically searched for a parking space, a debilitating task on any Friday night, while assuring him I’m not usually late. It’s parked car after parked car’s fault. Honesty, I’m not usually late.
One little white lie never hurt anyone.
After parking a few blocks away and walking past unending groups of delighted couples and debaucherous friends and chic parents I reached the restaurant. I started to feel nervous. Not, “I can’t do this” nervous but that excited nervous, when you feel a hot liquid in your chest and a slight flush in your cheeks.
Calm down. He’s probably too short.
I pulled back the door and walked past the dining room and into the bar in the back of the restaurant. As I made it down the ramp and onto the wooden floor I turned to my right and saw him sitting in the corner, a drink in his hand with another waiting for me on the counter. I smiled and he smiled and I was preparing to say “hey you” in what would have been in a charmingly devastating manner.
Until he stood up.
He wasn’t five foot nothing. He was six foot four with a lot of something. I continued to walk towards him while simultaneously cursing my decision to wear flip flops instead of pumps and could only manage to say “Wow, you’re really tall!” He laughed lightly and smiled brightly and as we hugged I thought to myself, “Shit. This one is trouble.”
And he was.
We met around 7:00pm that night. Well, 7:15-30ish thanks to my tardiness. We didn’t leave that bar until it closed, at 1:30 in the morning. We talked about everything, even exes and politics and all the subjects dating experts warn you not to talk about on a first date. We shared stories of family and college and the Navy and how we both ended up in Seattle. We smoked cigarettes and drank whiskey and let one another know we were very interested with subtle touches on a shoulder or leg or back.
When it was time to go home he came with me. When it was time to go to bed he joined. When it was time to wake up in the morning he was still there and we enjoyed a brisk walk to a local breakfast spot for brunch and mimosas and continued conversation.
We had talked about exes and politics and slept with one another on the first date. We did everything you’re not suppose to do because it all seemed like the only thing to do. Makeshift rules based on common scenarios just didn’t apply.
It was all a load of absolute shit.
We continued to talk and see one another occasionally. I was hell-bent on not allowing myself to get attached, as if falling in love was something I could control. I was seeing other people and he was wanting to move to the midwest so we were just friends. Friends who kissed and cuddled and had sex. Until the night we weren’t. Pretending we weren’t inexplicably drawn to one another or that sufficient feelings of commitment hadn’t flourished was starting to prove pointless. So we stopped lying and started confessing and soon the words “I love you” didn’t seem scary. They seemed sure.
Which is when I realized I loved him the moment I met him. Not because there were fireworks or sparks or whatever else some painfully overrated Nicholas Sparks novel describes between two star-crossed, vomit-inducing lovers. Not because I instantly pictured some everlasting future where he’d stick around and I’d be unapologetically happy. That kind of so-called “love at first sight” only exists to torture the hopelessly romantic with unrealistic scenarios of fairytale bliss.
I loved him the moment I met him because makeshift rules based on common scenarios didn’t apply. I loved him the moment I met him because we talked about exes and politics and neither one of us experienced the unnerving urge to strangle one another. I loved him the moment I met him because he made every dating rule I’ve ever heard or read or have been told a load of absolute shit.
And, sure. It helped that he was tall.