The rule in my parents' house was "no dating until you're sixteen". Come December 7th, 1992, I was ready. Only one problem, I was born with man-repellant. And not just any man-repellant. A man-repellant so strong that no one could penetrate it. For almost 13 years, I repulsed every male of the species. I lived in a small town and commuted to the big city to work in a school with older married teacher and then an office building where only 10% of the workforce were men. I went to a church where I was the youngest person by twenty years. I wasn't sure where I was supposed to meet Mr. Eligible, let alone Mr. Right.
Fast forward to summer 2005, my brother had been trying internet dating and he suggested I give it a try. I told him, "Internet dating is desperate and sad." He said, "Then it's perfect for you!" (Never one to mince words, that brother of mine.) Plus, the Christian site he was on was running a special: six months for $35. And I'd done dumber things with $35.
So I filled out the form and clicked "Submit" and (as my sister called it) went man-shopping. The first thing you learn about internet dating is that there are crazies out there. Oh yes, siree! But you also learn to spot them pretty quick. And run for the hills.
About a month into my shopping experience, I received a "flirt" from a guy in ND. This was exciting, a local!! I accepted and sent one back. We messaged a couple of times. Then one evening, we were both online and he sent me a chat request. And we chatted for three hours. He asked me if I could drive a tractor, a stick shift and a truck. Yes. Yes. And yes. Then he asked me what color tractors I liked.
This was the make it or break it question.
I typed G-R-E-E-N and held my breath.
He replied, "Good."
A couple more evenings of chatting online and he asked me if I had a phone. And, because I think if you're going to ask a stupid question you should get a stupid answer, I typed, "Yes, but it's down at the livery and we all share it."
Then he typed, "Does that phone have a number?" I gave him my number and he told me when he would call.
That first phone call lasted for four hours. We both grew up in farming families. We both were close with our families. We both had our own homes and dogs. We both were Christ-loving Methodists.
But I still hadn't seen a picture of him. I posted my picture on my profile because I wanted any potential suitors to know exactly what they were getting. He was an international man of mystery.
So I asked him to email me a picture. And as I waited for the picture to download and open, this was my prayer, "Dear God, don't let him be weird."
And this is what I saw:
I breathed a sigh of relief. Thank goodness he wasn't weird!! (Some of you may find a man grinning while holding a frozen Northern Pike to be weird.)
We had been chatting and talking on the phone and emailing for about six weeks when he made his move. He suggested that we meet for supper in the big city. We agreed upon the day and time and location. And then we savored the anticipation of our first meeting.
The night before the big date, I went out to eat with my parents. Since I was always honest with them, I told them I had a date the next night. My mom got all excited. Apparently, when you're 28 and going out on your first date, it causes some great excitement in your mother. "Who is he? Do we know him?" She leaned forward with barely contained joy. I replied, "No, you don't. I met him online." She heaved a huge sigh and looked heavenward and said, "I had hoped it wouldn't come to this."
Thank you for the vote of confidence.
We had agreed to meet at a truckstop on the edge of the big city because he didn't know how to get around in town (still doesn't, truth be told). He was late, 35 minutes late. But he called me to let me know that he was still coming but he couldn't decide what shirt to wear and he had to pull over and take a nap so he wouldn't fall asleep at the wheel. (still has these problems, truth be told again)
He pulled into the parking lot, wearing a green plaid button down shirt, and climbed into my vehicle. He shook my hand and said, "Hi, I'm Hubby." (OK, he didn't really SAY "Hubby", he said his real name which I am not at liberty to reveal)
We went to a riverside restaurant. He paid for dinner (and still has the receipt) and then we walked along the river for another three hours.
It was a beautiful fall night, very much like last night, exactly seven years ago last night that we met in that parking lot, shook hands, and walked together.
And I'm so glad he wasn't weird...