1.) Describe a memorable first date.
This prompt is the perfect opportunity to tell you about something that I have never written about on my blog; how I met my husband. It is, actually, a very interesting story. We have told it so many times that we are bored by it, Grant is so tired of it that he has rudely told a few people “I am not going to tell you, I just can’t tell it again!” Our story has even been featured in magazines and on the internet. It is necessary to tell the story in order for me to carry out this prompt.
In 1999, Grant was writing for a major magazine about cats, a magazine I had a subscription to. In the December issue he has one of those back page, humor pieces. The article was about how he was an eligible bachelor with two adorable cats which you would think would make him a “chick magnet” but he could not find any nice girls to date seriously, usually only disasters! (I wish Grant would blog about his life too, it is so funny!)
To Grant and his editor’s surprise, he got about 25 letters from women, offering themselves to him…one of whose was mine! Yes, I had just turned 30. In August the love of my life had gotten married, and I had had two quick relationships in succession, both turning out to be nothing but regrettable. Did I mention I had just turned 30? At this point in my life I figured, “What the Hell, why not?” I wrote Grant a letter, no websites or emails for the magazine back then, and put in two pictures, one of me, and one of my cats. I am holding the letter in my hands now as Grant obsessively saved everything, and why I am so glad he did it even though we have a ton of junk in our home, a lot of it is “happy junk”! Anyway, I told him a little about me, what I did for a living and how much my cats meant to me. I am laughing now because at the end I told him I have not written a fan letter since I was a pre-teen. Grant? A celebrity? The concept seems funny to me now.
Over on Grant’s end, living in OH, he was stunned by the responses he received. He eliminated some girls by the way they looked (typical man!) and how far they were from him. For example some letters came from California. I was in NJ, not too bad from OH. He went on one date with a woman who lived in the same town but there was no chemistry. He later told me he looked at my picture and he showed it to his friends, “Is this girl for real? She is hot!”, seemed to be the general consensus.
I had a very good feeling about the whole thing. I remember my friend asking me, “Do you really think he is going to call you, Emily?” and I said, yes I really did. I could hear her sighing on the other end of the phone, pitying me. I’m not sure if I told you, but I had just turned 30.
Grant called me about three days after Christmas. As I said, I was not surprised at all to receive his call. We had a great first time chat, I remember him quizzing me on how much I loved my cats, asking me if I had given my cats Christmas presents and him being very satisfied when I replied, “Of course!” He even asked me what they were!
We began speaking to each other every day, getting to know each other as much as one could by the telephone. We decided to meet and made the plans for early March of 2000.Grant would drive from where he lived to me, about a nine hour drive. This was before Mapquest and other internet direction websites, so Grant had to rely on a map and my directions. Some of my friends and family were scared that he was coming to visit me and would stay in my apartment, but I trusted him; we had been speaking for about two months and he told me two of his best friends were girls. I liked that! I remember one of my co-workers saying that he was going to call me and my code words were to be, “So, how about them Yankees?”, if it turned out his was a a psycho and had me tied up!
The directions were pretty straight forward until he was to get off my exit of the New Jersey Turnpike. The exit happened to be one of the most confusing exits on the Turnpike with a person having to make the right choice which way to go very quickly with tons of traffic. I warned him about it. “You are just going to have to look very carefully for the sign that shows you where you have to go next.” After my exit, he was only 15 minutes away from me!
Sounds easy, right? Not if you have never driven in New Jersey before. Oh, poor ignorant Grant, a hopeless fool. You see, after getting off the exit he did head down the wrong way. And, not understanding, New Jersey and it’s jughandles, he could not turn around…for miles. And miles.
Grant of course is a typical guy and would not ask for directions. Bad move. In the meantime, he was very late, even for a nine hour drive. Poor Grant kept trying to turn around, make a left, but there weren’t any! Where were the lengths, where were the U-turns??
An hour after Grant should have turned up, I get a cal from him via a pay phone. “Ammm, I’m kind of lost.” “Yes I figured that you were.” “Well do you know approximately where you are?” He described to me what he had done and I was able to figure out that he had gone over 20 miles in the wrong direction! “I knew I was on the wrong road, Emily, and I knew I had to turn around, and I kept looking to turn, but there was no place to turn, how do you make a left, Emily, how do you turn around? I don’t get it!” It was then we both realized that Grant had never heard of jug handles!
“Do you want me to try to give you directions from where you are now?” “No, just tell me how to turn around. I am determined to find out where you live!”
About 11 hours from when he started he finally showed up at my door, a complete wreck, sweating, clothes wrinkled; off-balance and a bit dizzy, he still felt like he was still driving.
I had planned going out to a really nice Italian restaurant, called Teresa’s but I knew Grant was exhausted. I gave him the option to order in a pizza but he said, “No we are going to go out on a date.”
I looked really nice, as I had had plenty of time to doll myself up! Grant looked like a bedraggled mess! Sitting across from him, I felt so shy. Even though I had spoken to him many times this was the first time we were meeting. I could not look him in the eye! This was so unlike me! Grant told me he later thought it was because I didn’t like him, as if I couldn’t stand the site of him!
The only dinner conversation was me asking him if he liked his pasta and him saying, “It’s kind of not cooked or something.” Oh boy. “It’s al dente, I told him. “Umm, okay, yeah. Al dente, I think I’ve heard of that.”
Despite our awkward dinner, we got more comfortable with each other and wound up having a lovely weekend. We walked around Princeton and went into New York City to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was a weekend of many romantic places and many romantic moments.
When Grant left on Monday morning and I went to work, we both knew that we had something special going on. This would be the first start of our long distance relationship which would finally culminating in us moving in together in February of 2001, with Grant taking a huge leap of faith, leaving his home, all of his professional business contacts and family and friends to move to New Jersey. The fact that he would be willing to do that for our relationship, to make that sacrifice, said a lot to me.
Having a long distance relationship for over a year was difficult and at times, heartbreaking. But when I saw the Mama Kat’s prompt about a memorable first date, I realized that it was not only a memorable one, but was really to be my last.