Tales From His Side

Who is “his?” Oh yes, right, my husband. Welcome to installment one of Guest Blogging, by Rich. I have successfully relinquished power for (less than) one week.

We interrupt this regular Frazzled Bear Blog for a special announcement. 

Jyl is at home and doing fine, but cannot type due to having her wrist in a wrap just about the size of Staten Island. I’ll be handling her blog for this week – and probably the next few weeks as well. I’m not nearly as funny as she is, but hopefully, I can at least get revenge relate a few stories that Jyl may have forgotten.

To be honest, this is a bit difficult. I’m not really a writer of blogs or a written communicator. I’m much more of an “in-person” kind of person. So please bear with me as I brush off my long-form writing skills.

I really thought long and hard about what to write about for the blog. At first, I thought I’d cover my favorite farts – but then I realized that Jyl had already done that. I thought about our first trip to San Francisco – but that’s covered already as well. How about the wedding? Covered. Proposal? Nope done. Wait, she’s been doing this blog every week for how many years?! 

Sigh . . . It’s hard being married to a person that seriously gets things done. Sheesh.

So, I thought that I’d tell *my* story about our first date.

Oh lordy. What a day that was.

You have to understand that I married my first wife in 1992 when I was 21 and, honestly, I had never been much of a pocket Casanova. In my life, I’ve dated 3 people – Andrea (in high school and early college), Christy (ex-wife), and Jyl (wife). That’s it. My dating experience pool is laughably shallow. Like, it doesn’t even cover my toes.

So, when I asked Jyl out for our first date I had ZERO idea of what I was doing. I hadn’t been on a date with anyone new of any sort for over 20 years, plus my confidence was at an all-time low. I had asked her out via email (yes, I’m a dork) and was shocked when she said “yes.” We had only met a few months beforehand – and in those months my life had completely fallen apart. I was living with my mother due to legal shenanigans from my ex. My kids were bouncing between two homes and trying to get their feet under them. I had also changed jobs fairly recently. 

Everything was a mess for me.

So I went into planning mode and tried to choose a restaurant that would be the easiest and simplest place for a guy that was way out of his element to manage time alone with a strange woman. I needed to pick a place that was a bit fast-paced and would have tons of things to distract this woman from my pitiful lack of dating skills. I needed a good neutral ground. I thought about it for a few days and decided on …

The Melting Pot.

Those of you that know about The Melting Pot are laughing yourselves into a coma right now. The Melting Pot is the absolute worst place in the world for a first date. It’s a fondue restaurant where meals can cross time zones and there is absolutely nothing to talk about but the pot boiling in front of you. If you made a list of “worst places for a first date when you are 20 years out of practice” I’m sure that The Melting Pot would be up at the top of the list.

I’ll put it this way…when we finally sat down and we told the waiter that it was our first date he looked at me pityingly and said “brave choice, dude” Ouch.

I was staying at a Residence Inn somewhere in the bowels of Raleigh, NC for a work thingy. Jyl was coming to drop her car off there so that we could ride together and was due shortly. I was so nervous that I could have fainted. All that I really knew about Jyl was that she was cute and had a great laugh. We had only met one other time and, although we had chatted like old friends, I had no idea how to operate this tool called a “date.” 

All I knew was that the last time I had taken a woman out that I wasn’t married to was 1992. This was 2012. Was I supposed to split the check? Was it still cool to hold doors? Did single girls even eat food? I had no idea.

I had taken a shower and I was getting my clothes on. I was literally shaking a bit. I remember looking in the mirror and telling myself “you’ve got this”. I have a mental tool that I use before any big presentation or speech that I use to get myself calmed down so I can function which involves deep breathing and stretching/bouncing (yeah I’m weird). I went through the entire process twice and I still felt like I was going to vibrate my way out of the door. I kept at it (unsuccessfully) trying to get myself in a reasonably zen place.

Then there was a tiny knock on the door.

I took a deep breath and disengaged the 35 locks that I use on a hotel door. I opened the door, saw a gorgeous little blonde standing on the stoop, and I immediately relaxed. I have NO idea why, but 90% of my anxiety just melted away. Weirdly, I never really felt any anxiety in getting to know Jyl. This was very strange since I’d never been comfortable with new people. By Millennial standards I’m probably autistic or on some spectrum but, as an 80’s kid, I knew that I just had a hard time meeting people and that I needed to shut the hell up and get over it. 

But with Jyl none of that ever came up. I trusted her from day one.

We hopped in the car and drove over to The Melting Pot. We walked in and got seated at which point I got the above comment from our waiter. Brave choice, dude.

I still don’t have any idea about what we talked about. I can’t remember a single conversation. But I know this – we were weirdly comfortable together. We just talked and talked until our pot boiled dry. I think our waiter was expecting us to not get along as I remember him coming back more times than necessary to prime the conversation. But he really didn’t need to…we were able to communicate oddly well.

I can’t remember what we ate or what I wore and I know that calls me out as a typical guy. But I do remember being impressed with Jyl. Here was a lady that had brains and drive. She owned her own house, had a new car, and had an actual “real” life. She was interesting and obviously very smart. As we ate, I realized that I liked this girl. Not love (that came later), but I knew right away that she and I could spend time together without problems.

That came as a shock to me. I had been with another woman for almost 20 years. I was convinced that when that relationship died it was over for me in the girl game. I knew that I really didn’t have the interest or people skills to play the bar game and I sure as heck wasn’t going to go back to church just to find a girlfriend. Yet here I was, sitting in a nice restaurant with a cool gal, and enjoying every minute of it.

We finished dinner and paid the tab (we split it, I think), and wandered out to Trader Joe’s to get a bottle of wine. Neither of us really wanted the date to end. I think she had as good of a time as I did.

That bottle of wine led to another date, which led to another date, down a long chain of dates and days to where I am today. With a woman that I adore, who still makes my toes curl, and whom I still find reasons to be impressed by every single day.

Not bad for a first date.

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