Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Are You Talking to Me?
So sorry I'm a day late with this. Monday was--well, it was Monday. What can I say? This is part three in the saga of how Terry and I met.
To read part one, click here.
To read part two, click here.
"There's this guy that's been asking about you."
My second semester into college, and suddenly everywhere I turned people were telling me this. I hadn't heard of this guy before so he had to be new. But I had trouble figuring out which guy he was. As important as it was to get my MRS degree, I was still painfully shy. I didn't always make eye contact and I found my gaze stopping just below most people's chins. Fortunately for me, Terry wore a jacket with his name on it. As long as he was wearing it I could recognize him. Of course, I could probably also recognize him because he was grinning every time he looked at me. I had longed for attention, but this guy made me uncomfortable. For one thing, the people he asked about me were not people I knew very well. He told me later that he was simply asking anyone and everyone he came in contact with. But I had near strangers coming up to tell me about this guy. If he was so interested in me, why didn't he talk to my friends? My roommates? My classmates? Why did he have to approach the girl I couldn't stand--the flirt that put on the worst dumb bunny act I had ever seen? And then tell her that she looked like my sister?!? When I heard that, I told my real sister that if this guy was that dumb I wasn't sure I wanted to date him anyway.
I didn't necessarily make that good an impression either. I was dining hall hostess that year, meaning I had to check student ID's, count customers and handle the occasional cash transactions at lunch. One day a student explained to me that his friend had forgotten his ID, and could he please go through line anyway? I looked up to the friend and found Terry grinning at me. At least, I thought it was Terry. He didn't have his jacket on.
"Okay, he can go through. THIS time." But when he forgot his ID again a few days later, I refused to give in. I wasn't going to be taken advantage of and I certainly wasn't going to jeopardize my job just because he couldn't remember to slip his ID into his pocket before he left his dorm room. He had a twenty minute round trip to the dorm and back for his ID, and then he had to stand at the back of the line again. But when he came through the second time, he was still grinning. Clearly this guy was not going to be discouraged easily.
The following Saturday some friends and I decided to borrow a car and get off campus for a while. We were going to head into the city and do some shopping and hang out for the day. We had just finished making all the arrangements and I was headed across the main hall when someone bumped into me. By this time I could recognize Terry without his jacket. He was still grinning, although he look embarrassed. (I found out later he asked a friend to give him a push when I walked by because he was nervous about approaching me.) He asked me if I wanted to go to dinner with him that night, but I explained I was just on my way out for the rest of the day. Then he asked about Sunday dinner.
Our church was having a potluck dinner after the service.
Awana. I don't eat supper on Mondays.
By this time his smile was dimming a little, but he kept it up. You have to admire that kind of determination. He asked me out for Tuesday night, and we agreed to meet at 5:30. At this point I did not see him as husband material, but I did have a bonafide date with someone that actually wanted to spend time with me. I floated through the weekend with my own grin. I was so looking forward to this. Right up until Tuesday afternoon when it suddenly hit me that I had no idea what we would talk about. I didn't know how to carry on a conversation. I hardly knew this guy. And then I became violently ill.
I would have considered calling off the date, but this was before the time of cellphones and there was no easy way to reach him. I would have to go through with this, but I was suddenly rethinking the whole getting married thing. Did I really want to go through the agony of nerves it took to date and get to know someone well enough to get married? Was it really worth all this? (I'm nothing if not dramatic.) With some not-so-gently bullying from my sister I finally pulled myself together and went to meet him.
By this time I was half an hour late, but he didn't seem to mind at all. (Now of course he has a serious problem with it. How things change in twenty-three years!) The line to the dining hall that night was longer than I ever remembered seeing it. We stood awkwardly together, trying to ignore various friends that smirked and gestured as they walked by us. First dates are brutal in a small college. After a while, Terry started making conversation.
"I hear you're from Illinois." I nodded and we chatted about that for a moment.
"And you're a pastor's daughter."
"You come from a large family, don't you?" I was starting to feel a little weird. How did he know so much about me? He told me later that he asked a lot of questions about me before the date so that we would have something to talk about. But the way it came out, it seemed a whole lot more like stalking than casual interest. I was glad we were surrounded by witnesses.
When we finally settled down at a table, I found out that the meal was tacos that night. Great. Like my stomach needed a little spice. Plus, how did you look cool and fun while you had taco stuffing dribbling out of it's shell? I looked up to find him staring at his taco as well. Finally he looked at me and grinned.
"I never know how to eat these things without making a mess," he confessed cheerfully. Then he dumped his taco out on his plate and broke the shell over it, making a great taco salad. I did the same, grateful to actually be able to use a fork. We made small talk throughout the meal, and managed to avoid anymore of those awkward pauses. When we said goodbye that night, I was happy to be through. My sister asked how it went and I told it was fun, but there was no spark. "I don't think I'll be dating him again."
What I didn't tell her was that I didn't think I'd be dating anyone again. Ever. I was so shy that meeting new people and getting to know them was agony to me. Surely marriage and happily-ever-after bliss was not worth this. I had a new perspective on being single all my life. And it didn't look so bad at all.
If you want to read more romantic stories and see how this whole carnival started, click here.
Tune in next Monday for part 4!