by Jeffrey S Savage
Okay, so once again I find myself posting late, and this time I don’t even have the internet to blame. But I will blame Sariah, she of the Monday morning suggestion that we all blog about our true loves in honor of Valentines Day (or as my six-year-old would say Valentimes Day.)
See, here is the thing. My wonderful, adorable, amazing, incredible, smart, attractive (did I get them all, Hon?) oh right, talented, wife and I have been married for twenty years. Considering I couldn’t get a date for the first half of my high school years, and she had guys flocking to her, I consider this quite an accomplishment. But the story of how I actually managed to get her is very, very long and much more time consuming to write than the creative writing lesson I was planning to drop in almost verbatim.
It’s taken me awhile to get it done. That and I got caught up in this cool episode of CSI Miami last night. Fair warning, it is really
long, so read at your risk.
It all started on a crisp Halloween night in Roseville, Ca. (Just up a piece from Sacramento.) My drop dead gorgeous social butterfly of a cousin, Denise, invited me to a Stake Halloween party. Normally I tried to avoid these types of things, but Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. Being short on cash, we went for the “Unknown Cousins” costume by wearing matching blue sweatshirts, and paper bags over our heads ala “The Unknown Comic.” Remember him? I guess he didn’t age so well or something.
Once at the party I was introduced to this really good looking blonde in a cheerleader costume. (If this blog were just for guys, I could stop right here. The guys would all nod their heads going, “yep, yep, blonde in a cheerleader outfit. Say no more,” and we’d all go back to talking about sports or politics. Or maybe good looking blondes.)
But for the rest of you ladies, let me just say I was smitten. It wasn’t just the outfit or the long legs. She actually liked my jokes—which makes her one in a million right there, she was smart, and she didn’t run screaming when I finally took off the bag. In fact somehow she ended up sitting on my knee by the end of the night. I was twenty-two at this point—having recently returned from my mission in Utah—and she was twenty.
After the party, I asked my cousin for all the details. She told me that Jennifer Apsley had been dating a guy for the previous two years—crap, crap, crap—but they had recently broken up—whoo hoo! Now here is the strange thing. I was always on the lookout for cute blondes with long legs, but as I recall, I wasn’t actively looking for a wife. But for some reason when I prayed that night I found myself asking if this girl who I had met exactly once, was the girl I was supposed to marry. And the answer was a resounding yes.
So—not being one to let funny, attractive, smart women sit idly about—the next day I called to ask her out. Now up to this point things had gone rather smoothly. I’d like to say we went on several whirlwind dates and the next thing I knew I was standing on the steps of the Oakland Temple with a ring and a wife. But somehow Heavenly Father never lets me get the things I want most, easily, and Jennifer was no exception.
The way I remember it, our conversation went something like this.
“Hi, Jennifer? This is Jeff. I, um, don’t know if you remember me from the Halloween party?” I’m looking for a little positive affirmation here. Something like, Of course, you were the really funny guy with the witty costume.
Aa-n-n-n-d? You’re not going to give me anything are you? “Right. Well I was wondering if you’re not doing anything if you might like to go out tonight?” A pretty freaking amazing line if I do say so myself.
“I’d like to, but my family is going out for my dad’s birthday.”
Okay, okay. Don’t worry. It’s her dad’s birthday. It’s not like she’s blowing you off with some phony line. “Well, tell him happy birthday for me. Ha. Ha. What about Saturday?”
“I’m sorry. I’m watching videos with the primary girls I teach.”
Primary girls. Right. Well, I wouldn’t want to intrude on that. I mean, I’d like to, but . . . “Well what about Sunday?” I am not desperate. I am not desperate.
She offered another reason why she couldn’t go out on Sunday, but by now it was all sounding like, “Blah, blah, blah, no, blah, blah, no, blah, no.”
By this point I’ve forgotten all about my prayer and I’m just trying to figure out a way to get off the phone with at least a shred of dignity intact. “If you don’t want to go out that’s okay.” Smo-o-o-oth.
“No. I do want to go out. I just need to check my calendar.” Okay that was my first mistake. I tried to ask out a girl with a calendar.
“You um, want to call me back then?”
So a year passed and I just about decided she wasn’t going to call back, when unexpectedly the phone rang. Turns out it wasn't Jennifer, but instead a very nice woman who wanted me to switch my long distance.
Of course, Jennifer and I had run into each other occasionally. I worked as a newspaper circulation manager and her younger brothers were a couple of my carriers. I’d try to see her when I dropped by, and my visits went something like this:
Jen answers the door. “Hello?” Doing a great job of hiding the strong feelings she has for me.
“Hi. Are your brothers home?” She wants me. I can tell these things.
“Sure.” She leaves and that’s the last I see of her.
Over the last twelve months we had both changed though. She’d dated about twenty guys, been proposed to numerous times by numerous guys, and gone to care for her grandmother for a month—during which time she of course met other guys.
I had gone through basic training and AIT for the Army Reserves, where I also met lots of guys.
Denise, my afore mentioned cousin, had gotten married and I was at her reception. Actually, I didn’t spend much time at the reception. She somehow lost her garter and I was sent on a wild chase to find a new one. Where does a twenty-three year-old guy go to find a garter? Long story. But as I was coming back, I noticed two attractive blondes on their way out.
Now I should probably point out here that six months in the army had changed my looks just a little. My longish hair was now a slightly grown out buzz cut, my moustache was gone, I was well tanned, and pretty buff if I do say so myself. In fact, most of my old friends (including girls I’d dated) didn’t even recognize me.
When I realized one of the two girls was Jennifer, I thought I would have a little fun with her.
Knowing she wouldn’t recognize me, I said, “Hi Jennifer.”
She turned and without a blink, smiled and said, “Hi Jeff.”
Her cute friend looked at me and said, “Why haven’t you introduced me to this one?”
Jennifer said, “I’ll tell you later.” And they both waved goodbye.
The next couple of months were very much like this. One minute Jen would seem really interested in me; like the time at the dance where she held my hand after a slow song and said, “Find me again.” Then she’d turn a complete 180 degrees, like when I went to look for her a couple of songs later and she was off in the corner of the gym dancing with another guy.
Meanwhile, I made a strong impression on her by doing things like running into doors when I was around her and responding to her angora sweater by telling her my sweater was made of German Shepherd.
It all finally came to a head on the last institute class of the year. It was the beginning of Christmas break and I only went to the class in hopes of seeing two girls. When class started neither of them had come and I was wishing I hadn’t either. Then, five minutes into class the first girl showed up—with a guy. Not good. But a few minutes later, I felt a finger run across my back and I turned to see that Jennifer had come into the room. Things were looking up.
Thinking ahead, I had made sure to leave an open seat beside me. And of course Jennifer came and sat next to me. Or so I thought. I kept waiting for her to come sit by me. I mean she’d just run her finger across my back. You don’t run your finger across a guy’s back and not sit by him right? Only when I looked to see where she’d gone, she was sitting by another guy!
Now I consider myself a patient person. (Or maybe I’m just slow.) But I had finally realized I was never going to go out with Jennifer. Nor did I want to. She was a complete flake. A flirt with no conscious. And a troublemaker to boot. Did I really want to spend the rest of my life running into doors?
So as soon as the class ended, I bolted out the door. And that would have been the end of it if not for two things. Funny how the smallest things can change your life. The first thing was that I stopped to get a drink of water. The second thing was that after a year of blowing me off, Jen suddenly was struck with a very clear message to pick up everything she had and race out the door after me.
This created one of those scenes you usually see in romantic comedies—one which we’d both like to watch over and over on the Life Videotape in the hereafter. As I finished getting my drink and straightened up, she came rushing through the door carrying gloves, coat, scarf, scriptures, books, etc. We didn’t quite collide with each other, but she abruptly stopped and all of her things went flying across the hall.
At this point I wanted nothing to do with her. Of course I helped her pick up her things as she blushed furiously. But as soon as I did, I was on my way down the hall. Except she wouldn’t go away and leave me alone. She just kept following me.
Her. “Next week’s my birthday.”
Me. “Hmm. How ‘bout that.”
Her. Smiling expectantly. “Un huh.”
Me. Wanting to get away and leave this crazy girl behind. “Great. Maybe we’ll do something.”
Her “Okay. When? My family’s doing something tomorrow, but we could go out on Saturday.”
Me “Yeah. Okay, well I’ll call you or something.”
Her “Okay. Great. So Saturday?”
By this point another guy comes out the door and says, “Hey, Jennifer isn’t it your birthday next week?”Here we go again,
I think, and try to make my getaway. Only we’re like a three person train. I’m walking away. She’s following me. And he’s following her. Finally she asks me if I’ll carry her books to her car. I’ll do anything to get away. But the other guy says, “I can carry them.”
Now I don’t want anything to do with her. But I’ll be darned if I’ll let some geeky commodore computer programmer carry her books, so I take them first. He follows her out to the car, trying to ask her out, and finally settled for opening her car door.
I guess Heavenly Father figured he’d put me through enough, because the rest is a pretty short story. We dated thirteen straight days and on New Years Day I asked her to marry me. Oddly enough she said yes, providing the final answer to my prayer. The next thing I knew, it was April 16th, and I was standing on the steps of the Oakland Temple with a ring and a wife.
After twenty years I still run into doors around her. And she still wears cheerleader outfits. (Okay that second part isn’t real, but a guy can hope right?) And I’m really glad I stopped to get a drink.
I love you, Sweetheart.