I waited until the afternoon of the 1st before I called Stacey. It wasn’t cool to look desperate but I was never sure where that line was between desperate and waiting so long that she moved on to bachelor #2. I had been aware of bachelor #2 at the party the night before. He would walk by and from the look he gave me I was pretty sure he would happily hold my head under water for me so I could get a closer look at the Koi. I kept looking at the clock and trying to time my call just right. But here’s a well known secret. I’m terrible on the phone, I hate the phone, so I wanted to work as quickly as I could to set something up face to face.
My first attempt and the line was busy. Had to be bachelor #2, the desperate jerk.
My second attempt the phone started ringing and I started to panic. I had absolutely nothing prepared if her dad answered the phone. “O God…” my new prayer life started up again.
“Hello?” It was Stacey.
“Uhm, uh, hi, this is Brian, we met last night, maybe you don’t remember me, I was the guy by the fish…” A laugh from her and I felt myself relax a little. “I was just thinking maybe we could do something today. If you want.”
“Why don’t you come over here.” She said, “Then you can meet my family.”
“Uh, um, you’re family? I, uh, um, hmmm. Sure, that would be, um, well, uh, right now?” I’m not joking about being bad on the phone and this is no exaggeration of what it was like.
“Sure, now, unless you’re doing something else.”
“No, nothing else,” (arg! did that sound desperate?) “give me directions and I’ll be over in 15 minutes.”
She told me exactly how to get to her house.
I got the keys and drove over.
When I got to her place, a nice older home on a big lot, I saw it was one of those houses where the back door was really the front door. I froze for a minute that felt like an hour trying to decide whether to walk around and knock on the front door anyway (don’t want her parents thinking I’m too familiar). I forced myself to make a choice and knocked on the back door. 5 loud heart beats later Stacey came to the door.
Can I just betray all my brothers and tell you a secret that could tip the balance in the war of attraction between men and women?
Every girl on the planet looks good in a big hoody.
It’s a simple fact.
A universal truth.
It’s so true that my daughter won’t be allowed to wear one until she turns 21.
If every girl looks good in a big hoody though, Stacey was the poster girl, the prototype for the look. She was a big hoody, soft sweater super-model with the long hair and dimples that elevated her above all other women in sweats that I had ever seen up to that moment. As I stood at the door unable to remember how to say, “hi” or anything else in a known tongue, looking at her in the hoody, her long hair in a pony tail, no make up and fresh washed face glow I knew one absolute thing: I was toast.
She got me in the house and introduced me to her family. I did my best not to behave like a stroke victim. It was…interesting. Her dad scared me. He acknowledged my existence but not in any kind of ‘I’m happy to meet you’ kind of way. We did the ‘who’ll let go first’ handshake and I was happy to let him win that one. He didn’t really interrogate me but the way he looked at me made me feel guilty for things I hadn’t even thought of doing yet. Her sibs were great. Her mom seemed sweet and soft but underneath I could feel this toughness that I think scared me even more than her dad did. Her dad was busy compiling a photo record of everything the family owned, “for insurance purposes.” He told me. Stacey and I sat and talked on the couch while the family did the family thing around us.
She seemed happy about everything. She had this contagious optimism about life that was just as attractive to me as she was. The flame of eternal pessimism that burned brightly in my own heart flickered and went out as the afternoon went on.
Something that came up in the conversation that afternoon was that her family was pretty serious about their faith in God. They attended this little church that I’d never heard of before. She said it might be different from the church I went to, they did things differently than a lot of churches did. They’d be all going together that Sunday and she asked me if I’d like to come along. Mostly what I heard was, “waaa waawaaa waa waa waa waawaa come with me?” I said, “Sure.” That seemed to make her and her mom happy and truthfully she could have told me she was cleaning public toilets with a toothbrush, MY toothbrush, and if I could be where she was it sounded like a great idea to me. Besides, I’d been to church before. Lots. How different could it be? Church was church. I figured I’d treat it like an anthropology project and blend in inconspicuously with the natives.
…to be continued…