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Awkward Moments in Dating: I Met My Wife and Didn’t Know It

August 28, 2020

Neither of them look like us. (image via wikimedia)

I met my wife in a bookstore in late November of 1994.  It was a Saturday night, I was in my late 20s, and I was supposed to meet a woman I had talked to a couple times on the phone.

This might sound weird, but before online dating, singles could meet through personal ads in the newspaper.  Some of these personals were more like prostitution solicitations, so I stayed away from those, but the city I lived in had a weekly newspaper for professionals, and its personals were legitimate.

I had heard about these personals through a woman I had dated for a short time.  After this particular woman found out I was a cheapskate, she ended things quickly, so  I wrote an ad about myself, and a few women responded (I might write about them another time).

Since the women contacting me weren’t working out, I responded to an ad written by a woman who claimed to be “attractive.”  I don’t remember exactly what else it said anymore, but the personal was very well-written, and I thought a self-proclaimed attractive woman who could write well couldn’t be too bad for a date.

Oddly enough, our phone call wasn’t the awkward part.  Her name was Heather, and we had an easy, pleasant conversation, so we agreed to meet at a bookstore.  Back in 1994, there were a lot of bookstores, so we decided on a local bookstore in the semi-artsy part of the city.

While I was waiting at the periodical stand by the bookstore entrance, I noticed an attractive dark-haired woman flipping through a magazine.  She kind of met the description Heather had given me (dark-haired, attractive), but Heather had said she’d be wearing a black jacket, and this woman was wearing a red sweater.

I couldn’t just talk to this woman.  If she wasn’t Heather and Heather walked in while I was talking to this other woman, it wouldn’t be a good start.  So I kept my mouth shut and waited for a black jacket.

After a few minutes the woman in the red sweater wandered off, but I hung around the magazine stand for another fifteen minutes.  I was pretty sure I was being stood up when the woman in the red sweater returned.

We made brief eye contact, and I smiled because I thought maybe she was Heather after all, but she looked down, and I thought, that’s not Heather, so I hightailed it out of the bookstore.  The woman probably believed I was some creepy guy with a leer, I thought.

Not ready to return home, I wandered into the neighboring music shop (this was back when people still bought CDs in stores). I browsed through the new releases and found myself in the reggae/ska section.  When I looked up, I saw the dark-haired woman gazing at me from across the bin.  Then she turned and strolled to the R&B section.  I thought maybe I should talk to her, but I had no idea what I’d say.

Since there were no new ska releases, I decided I’d at least buy a book and I returned to the bookstore.  After a few minutes, I picked out the new Tom Clancy novel (I was in my 20s, okay?) and found myself standing in line next to the dark-haired woman, holding a Toni Morrison novel.  I glanced at how she looked in her jeans, and of course, that’s when she noticed me.

I had to talk to her.  This was the third time running into her.  We were in a line.  There was no escape in a line.  It was talk or be shamed.

“I promise I’m not stalking you,” I said.

“You don’t look like the type who listens to ska,” she said.

I was wearing a plain brown sweater and nondescript jeans.  “I used to dress like I listened to ska, back in college.  You like ska?”

“No,” she said.  “It’s okay.”

“I would say that you look like the type to read a Toni Morrison book,” I said, “but I don’t know what that would mean.”

She smiled and didn’t lecture me, so I took that as a good sign.

“You know what goes good with a book?” she said.  “Ice cream.”

“In this weather?” I said, and then I mentally kicked myself.  “I mean, I feel like ice cream too.  Maybe I’ll see you there.”

“Or maybe we could just go together.”

At that point, I knew.  Maybe I should have figured it out earlier, but a blind first meeting like this was high-stress.

“I could have sworn you said you’d be wearing a black jacket,” I said.

“I said red sweater.”

I didn’t want to argue with her about that right then.  I was just glad that neither of us were getting stood up.  We never did agree on what she had said over the phone, though.  Neither of us had recorded the phone conversation, so we couldn’t go back for the proof.

When I found out later that she actually had a black jacket in her car, I figured that she’d had said black jacket, but I didn’t want to press the point.  Maybe she had said black jacket on purpose and then worn the red sweater in case she wanted to bail out.  If that were the case, a single woman couldn’t admit that to a single guy.  Single women can’t reveal their little tricks; otherwise, the tricks wouldn’t work.

Plus, I don’t want to think my future wife started off the relationship by being dishonest.  Either way, the story isn’t over.  When it comes to my wife, this was just the first awkward moment in our relationship.

From → Dysfunctileaks

  1. The first few encounters with my future wife were awkward too. What surprised me, once the initial skirmishes ended, was how at home I felt with her. Thanks for the interesting read. It brought back the self-conscious strain and excitement of dating.

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