My husband and I recently celebrated 11 years of being together and when I say “celebrate”, I really mean patting each other on the back and saying, “good job”.
You know those adorable stories of how couples meet? Our story is so far from that, you could be standing on top of the above tales on a ladder wearing platform shoes and STILL couldn’t even see our story. Those adorable engagement pictures on Pinterest? I am pretty sure there are the pictures of us plastered at the local Applebee’s with friends and I know one of them involves my husband giving the finger.
In fact, our wedding photographer wasn’t hired until about two weeks before our wedding. Which reminds me, NEVER HIRE A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER WHO IS AVAILABLE TWO WEEKS BEFORE YOUR WEDDING.
Here is the story of how us became us.
I first remember meeting my future husband at the train station on the way to Taste of Chicago in July of 1993.
A huge group of people went into the city that summer night to get drunk and eat food and he and I were two of them.
But in actuality, I had a crush on another person in the group; my future husband’s best friend.
Mid-evening, Mike comes up to me, sees my cup of something and asks me “what are you drinking?”
I told him “bourbon”.
I wasn’t drinking bourbon.
Back then, they only offered beer at the Taste but I didn’t like beer so I was drinking pop while my friends were all plastered on beer.
He offered to get me more “bourbon” and I said “sure” for two reasons:
1- I wanted to see if he could really find me some because I was getting tired of being the only sober person there.
And B- I wasn’t really interested because I had that crush, remember?
He never ended up finding that bourbon but he was also plastered so he didn’t also mind looking for it, to begin with.
As our group stumbled through the streets of Chicago on the way back to catch our train at Union Station, he began to intrigue me.
Why? Because he started doing Beavis impersonations.
Dead-on Beavis impersonations.
I AM CORNHOLIO. ARE YOU THREATENING ME?!?!
It says a lot about me, doesn’t it?
Six weeks after the Taste, I was standing in the Misses department at Kohl’s, where I worked at the time, being asked out on a date by Mike. It wasn’t really framed as a date but rather would I like to go to a ballgame with him? I remember I was wearing a black top, plaid mini skirt and shoe boots. He was wearing a white polo shirt and khaki shorts and he had a box of Nike shoes under his arm. Later on, he told me he didn’t really need Nikes; he just needed a reason to go into Kohls. Sigh.
Also, he didn’t ask me out in his Beavis voice by the way but what a story that would’ve been, no?
Anyway, we ended up going to a White Sox game and talked non-stop the entire date and was really taken with him by the end of the night. BUT I was also in an “I don’t want to rush into anything” kind of place. I had just been dumped at the altar a few months before and had been kind of dating his best friend for a few weeks before this. I swear I wasn’t a whore even though it sounds like it. Trust me, I wasn’t easy. In fact, I was quite complicated. Hence all of the relationship nonsense that summer.
So we “dated” like the Amish for six full weeks: no kissing or holding hands; only a hug at the end of the date.
But we had so much fun every time we went out, I honestly felt like he was becoming one of my closest friends and looked forward to the next time I would see him. He even invited me to his other close friend’s wedding the following month, so I figured he must really like me even with the Amish situation.
When he stopped calling a week before that wedding, I was confused and hurt. It wasn’t until a few days later while I was at a local bar with a group of friends when one of his friends informed me that he was dating a girl that lived in his apartment building and he didn’t know how to tell me.
So he just didn’t tell me.
Fast forward nine years later to a party at my future husband’s house. A lot had happened in those nine years: I got married to someone else, had a daughter, and got divorced. He was a bachelor living the good life, having fun with friends, etc. It was at the housewarming party for his new bachelor pad that a mutual friend, his best friend (my former crush) KEEP UP, brought up the time when Mike and I had dated in 1993.
Oh, and we were all drunk. This is important you know this because it makes more sense. Not the story, but the circumstances.
“Whatever happened with you two?”, our friend slurred. “Like, you guys would have made a kick-ass couple!” All of a sudden I blurted out that I may possibly kind of maybe have a few of those feelings for him. Thank you, Mike’s Hard Lemonade. Then our friend slips away as I was talking to his wife at the time. Ten minutes later, the friend comes up to me and says these words, “it’s done. The deal is done!” What deal? Did you just score us weed? “Noooo…I told him that you like him.”
I don’t like him? When did you hear that?
You just told me!
No, I didn’t!
Magic moments, people. Magic. Moments. Two weeks later and several very awkward phone conversations later, we went on our first date.
Ever heard of Door County? It is this amazing peninsula right outside of Green Bay, Wisconsin. It’s beautiful, the food is amazing and it is the scene of our engagement. That almost didn’t happen. This is what did happen:
– I ate lots of cheese shaped like the state of Wisconsin
– I sat out on the balcony of our hotel room and smoked lots of cigarettes
– I went to the library
– I got lost trying to find the library
– Mike went golfing alone whilst I got lost trying to find the library
– A seagull shit on me
– We watched Brian’s Song three times
I had no idea he had plans to propose on this trip as he wanted it to be a surprise. This you should know: I hate surprises.
So on night two, when he started acting really weird I got upset thinking he had a surprise for me. But the surprise I thought he had for me was that he was going to break up with me. Once we got back to our hotel room after dinner, he decided that he wanted us to take a walk in the pitch-black darkness of night. Then I was all, OMG IS HE GONNA MURDER ME? But we sat at this gazebo on the grounds of the hotel and he started yammering on and on and I got highly suspicious because he is not a yammerer… It was then that I thought, “Holy shit, I think he is gonna ask me to marry him.”
That changed because, after 15 minutes of yammering, he got up and said, let’s just go back to the hotel room.
Twenty-four hours later, no question was asked, no murder for hire plot surfaced, no ring was presented.
It was around this time that I started to get mad; like, REALLY, REALLY mad.
WHY DOESN’T HE WANT TO MARRY ME, DAMMIT?
I AM A CATCH!
WHAT IS WRONG WITH HIM?
The more time that passed I was getting even more infuriated with the prospect that he didn’t think I was worthy of marrying him and not at all with the prospect of getting an engagement ring.
The next day I did, what I now realize, everything in my power to make him NEVER want to marry me or any other female on the planet.
I may or may not have convinced him that he needed to go golfing alone, then upon picking him up at the golf course afterward, scream at him for the 15-minute drive to the hotel about how insensitive it was to go golfing on a “romantic weekend”.
Then the next evening, after a bottle of wine, things became crystal clear. It was on the balcony of our hotel room that I drunkenly declared (and this is a little fuzzy for a few reasons) that YOU ARE NEVER GONNA ASSSK ME TO MARRY YOU! ARE YOUUUU!?! YOU DON’T THINK I AM SPECIAL ENOUGH TO SPEND THE REST OF YOUR LIFE WITH?! DO YOU? THIS IS LIKE 1993 ALL OVER AGAIN, ISN’T IT? ISSSSSSSN’T IT?????
And then I allegedly gave him the finger but I can’t be sure because of a bottle of wine, rage, and lots of cheese.
In my defense, I hadn’t pooped in three days, there was no AC in our hotel room, and I was under a lot of stress because of the possible murder for hire plot.
The next afternoon, over Pepto Bismol, Sprite, cheese shaped like the state of Wisconsin and saltine crackers on the same balcony, Mike finally did pop the question. And as weird as it sounds, it was spontaneous and hugely romantic.
It was the middle of the afternoon, the sun was shining, we were wearing dingy tee-shirts and shorts and we hadn’t been fighting in over two hours (which was good as far as that trip went).
It was imperfectly perfect.
I remember the two of us crying so hard.
But the story he told everyone was from the previous night because let’s face it, it just makes a better story.
I always wonder what would have happened if I had been a bit sluttier back in 1993. Would we have ended up getting married in our 20s? I can’t go down that rabbit hole because then I wouldn’t have my Annie and I am so grateful for the relationship that brought her to me.
And maybe we wouldn’t have even had Ellie? If we had gotten married young and broke up? She wouldn’t be in our world and what a travesty that would be.
Plus, we wouldn’t have these stories to tell them when they are older. Like, way older. When we are in the nursing home and are trying to get the good Jell-O.