How We Met
I would love to say that the stars aligned and we saw each other across a crowded room and knew at first sight that Steph was the one, or even we were childhood friends who finally saw each other as something more (cue romantic music swell)…but this is not that kind of story. Instead we were set up on a blind date, one that we were woefully prepared for. For the record when someone calls you and says “I have someone that I think you should meet, here is her name and number” and then abruptly hangs up…it would give anyone pause. But after having spent far longer than I would care to admit on on-line dating websites, I decided if I was willing to market myself to total strangers, why should this be any different? After a few texts back and forth and an exchange of pictures, we decided to meet in person. First dates make me nervous, what will we talk about, where should we go, what do I wear…yes, men think like this, too. So I decided to leave work early and trim my beard before our date. Now I think it’s fair to explain that when trimming one’s beard, your mind should be focused on the task at hand and not contemplating how the evening will go, because that is how shaving accidents occur.
Picture if you will, your standing in front of the mirror, electric trimmer in hand, you’ve just trimmed the beard and have adjusted the trimmer one notch down to trim your mustache. Have you got the image? Well I didn’t. In the fog of pre-date, I dropped the trimmer to the lowest setting and touched it to my lip. In the blink of an eye, half my mustache was gone. I stood there in disbelief. I think it’s important to point out that in the next 30 seconds I ran the full gambit of Kubler-Ross’ stages of grief. Denial: I can fix this! Anger: I’m an idiot, I can’t fix this! Bargaining: Perhaps I can pull off the beard without a mustache. Depression: I cannot pull off the beard without a mustache. Acceptance: It all has to go. And then…But she won’t recognize me. Never mind the fact that she has only seen one picture of me and would still not be able to pick me out of a line-up.
A unique thing happens when you have a beard, you grow the sides of your hair longer to blend in…so…with no beard…yep, you guessed it…emergency haircut! I tell you this story as a set up to our first meeting, because of this ordeal, I was about 5 minutes late for our date. In those five minutes, someone else who resembled my picture walked into the restaurant. Steph saw him and waved and he walked right past her to meet his wife. I walked in a minute later, saw her and walked right up to her, because, well she still looked like her picture, but she told me she was waiting for someone else and then teased me about not having my beard.
During the course of our date, I found out that our mutual friend didn’t know me as well as he thought he did, she had been told that I only had one child (I have three) and that I was in my 30’s (I was 41). After the initial shock had worn off, we ate dinner, laughed and talked till we closed the restaurant down. And then we talked for another couple hours standing next to our cars.
That date was June 15th, 2017. We dated sporadically for the next three months till we had the talk and decided to only see each other. I proposed to her on her birthday of last year September 8th (which you’ll read below).
We married two years to the day and within hours of our first date. June 15th, 2019. I could not ask for a better partner in life. She not only accepted me and my flaws, but she has opened her heart to my children and they have affectionately decided to call her “Mom.”
How They Asked
I wanted Steph to have a story that would rival those she reads about in books or sees in movies. So, I created a scavenger hunt that would take her to all of our firsts. Our first date. Our first kiss. The first place she met my children. The place where we will first be married. And the place where we will first be presented to all of our family and friends as Husband & Wife.
Each clue contained a small canvas bag with a jigsaw puzzle, a task for her to complete before she got to move on to the next clue, and a handmade card with a hand written note. Each note was written by someone special to her (parents, BFF and my three children).
It was a journey that would take her all day. And just to throw her off as long as possible, I created a fake scavenger hunt rule card and required her to record each task and how long it took her to complete it. Hidden on each of the cards was a single word that when placed together in the right order asked “Will You Marry Me?” Throughout the course of the day, she got to have brunch with a few of her friends, solve puzzles, and take them bowling.
I am pretty sure that she had things figured out by the time I showed up to give her the fourth clue, but she was a good sport.
The last clue took her to the site were we will hold the reception, here a picnic was set up, complete with three dozen roses and the final card written by me. She was shaking and a bit teary eyed when she opened the picnic basket and saw the ring box. But because our life is one where we laugh more with each other than we do with anyone else, I had replaced her ring with a cheap $1 ring. And while she was laughing hysterically…I knelt down on one knee and with the real ring in hand…asked her to be mine. Once she said yes, all of her friends who were hiding jumped out and congratulated us. It took 7 months of planning, but now…Steph has THE STORY.