Thirty-three years ago, sporting leather pants and cowboy boots, I picked up a special young woman for our first date.
Thankfully, the boots and pants died a quick fashion death.
But that first date turned into many more, 29 years of marriage, two wonderful daughters, a granddaughter (coming soon!), four goofy dogs, more ups than downs, and a love that endures.
Here is our (mostly) absolutely true love story…
A TRUER LOVE STORY WAS NEVER TOLD
(Originally published in “Chocolate Cows and Purple Cheese, and other tales from the homefront”, available on Amazon)
Before my last name supplanted hers, my wife hated my guts.
Believe it or not, this is a story of true love, though it is both “Post” and “Anti” Valentine’s Day. Because just after Valentine’s Day in 1985, my life changed.
On February 21, 1985, Kellie became my future. We have spent more than half of our lives together.
That two teens fell in love is neither particularly unique nor especially interesting, until one considers our relationship prior to that first date.
She absolutely despised me.
Kellie and I met our senior year in high school. We were both new to the school, and so didn’t know each other.
As she described me, I was a pompous egomaniac bent on controlling the school, if not the world. In hindsight, she was more right than wrong. Kellie has smoothed my rough edges considerably. But, fully unfurled, I can still be a tough flag to salute.
I certainly had an air of confidence thanks to my involvement in numerous student activities. And I was rightly proud of my several positions of student leadership. But all Kellie saw was overbearing hubris.
We didn’t “meet cute.”
In fact, our first encounters only strengthened her perception of me. I was editor of the student newspaper; she typed copy on the then-new computer system. (Yes, though my children refuse to believe it, we are old enough to remember when there were no computers…)
Kellie also had the added pleasure of watching me fawn daily over my girlfriend du jour.
As most teenagers do at some point in most of their young relationships, I seriously thought I would spend the rest of my life with this young woman.
“The rest of my life” lasted about five months.
Fast forward to the December of my freshman year in college. My faith in women had only recently been restored, but was still fragile, after the aforementioned girlfriend had ripped my heart from its moorings, stomped on and handed back to me the prior spring.
But the lovelorn and common sense are often strangers.
The ex-girlfriend asked me for a ride to a holiday party at a mutual friend’s house. I obliged, thinking that this was her way of re-stoking our past embers. The only fire was in my heart. The only smoke, in my eyes.
The ex-girlfriend merely needed a ride and, to make matters worse, she met another guy at the party.
Luckily for me, Kellie also came to the shindig. Trying to make my ex jealous, I sidled up to Kellie in the ex’s line of sight and planted a holiday smooch on her cheek.
To this day, my wife says that kiss turned everything around. I didn’t think it was particularly innovative or memorable, as kisses go. But, what do I know? I’ve never kissed myself.
Ever the dense man (I understand from many women that that phrase is redundant) I missed her flashing-neon signals of interest for two months.
But we finally went on our first date, a college dance, on February 20, 1985. The next day, I called the three other girls I was haphazardly dating and wished them all a happy life.
Many years later, I am still cynical, sarcastic and doubting. My tongue is only partly in cheek when I say that people are like stray cats. If you keep feeding them, they’ll keep coming around. I don’t like cats, and I tend not to trust most people, at least at first.
But, among countless life lessons my wife has taught me, I have learned from Kellie that most people are very nice if only given a chance. (Cats still irritate me, though.)
Kellie has an amazing vision of the heart, a quality I lack, admire and covet. She saw through my flinty veneer.
But, more than merely being able to see through me, she wanted to see through me. And when I fought her peeking into my soul, she smiled and laughed until I let my guard down.
All these years later, she still laughs at me. Most of the time it is with love in her heart. The other times? Well, let’s just say I often reap what I sow. But I am glad to have her by my side as we plow through life together.
Just don’t tell anyone I said so. I don’t want people to think I’m a nice guy.