A few years ago, I said yes. It was the culmination of a relationship I never thought would happen–not in a million years. It didn’t exactly have a romance-novel start. In fact, it was sort of doomed and almost didn’t happen. I’ll tell you how it started–it’s kind of cool 🙂
Honestly, I agreed to a first date to get a motorcycle ride. I didn’t know many people with a motorcycle, but I absolutely loved riding them. So when this guy named Vince asked to take me to dinner on his motorcycle, I agreed.
Oooooooh did I regret that. I sat through dinner hating it, wishing it were over, but too soft-spoken to simply end the date. This was NOT the guy for me. Not at all. Loud and full of himself, he was the exact opposite of everything I wanted. I felt like I was on a date with Gaston from Beauty and the Beast.
I should back up here and give you a little background. I come from a very quiet, reserved family (for the most part). Both my parents are naturally quiet people who are polite and avoid offending people. My grandma would have been embarrassed if the toilet lid was left up in her house. Not the seat–the LID. “Someone might SEE the TOILET!” she’d say, even though no one else was there–she was too sick for visitors. The toilet was simply too private a thing for visitors to see.
In marched Vince, the outspoken Italian man who said exactly what he thought, when he thought it, especially if it would ruffle feathers and get a debate–I mean, conversation–going. And he was louder and more opinionated on that first date than anyone I remember spending time with in any capacity.
After dinner, he took me home and gave me a surprisingly gentle, sweet hug. It didn’t seem to fit the man I’d had dinner with. I remember the smell of his leather jacket, and trying to figure out who this guy was. Regardless, I said no to going out again, and didn’t hear from him for a while.
Then, about five months after that first date, we had our second. I don’t remember exactly how it happened, but we had been chatting on and off for weeks, very casually. We formed a very loose acquaintanceship that became a tenuous friendship. We never discussed dating–that was off the table. But then I was going through his part of Chicago during a blinding snow storm and he invited me to stop there and wait out the storm. We’d play Wii and he’d make pasta. Ok, I can do that.
And that’s when I saw a lot more depth to the loudmouth with the motorcycle. We stayed up until 2am (which is how long it take for me to learn and cream him at Wii bowling–I wasn’t leaving on a losing streak!) After a home-cooked dinner, cookie dough (and a few resulting cookies), and fun with his roommates, he finally relaxed. That’s when he set aside that tough guy bravado and out sneaked this gentle, generous, really fun person. Turns out, the guy was just super nervous on that first date. He really liked the girl who opened the door, and he didn’t know what to do with himself. However, at that point, I still wasn’t sure which was the “real” Vince.
He proved which one it was in the following months. When my car broke down in another state, in a very bad area, I called him for advice, and he came to rescue me as fast as he could jump in his car and drive there. When I got dizzy on the highway driving alone, he came to get me then, too–only he got on the highway one entrance past me, threw his truck in reverse, and flew down the shoulder for a mile to get to me. He served me and asked nothing in return. He buried my dog when I couldn’t do it. He reminded me of God’s sovereignty in the midst of my ickiest moments. I soon figured out two things: 1. his bark was worse than his bite 2. his words may be one thing, but his ACTIONS…. his actions spoke of a character far beyond most men I knew. I also came to appreciate that loud bluntness… because I could trust him. He may not say things with a soft edge, but he always said what was true. I never had to wonder. This was a refreshing break to the naive girl often fooled by dishonest men. I grew to like this guy. His character just sparkled above every other guy. He was genuine, and cared about the people in his life. He worked hard and served others, even when he thought no one was looking. (But I was!!)
Our relationship began with a bang–two weeks after that second date, he said, “You’re the girl I’m going to marry. Unless you have any objections.”
“Woah! Hold on there,” I said. I’d been through a terrible relationship before, and was a little gun-shy.
He never brought up wanting to marry me again until, when I was ready, I said… “you realize I’m ok with getting married now, right?”
That brings us up to the engagement. A very short time after my admission, he took a few days off work, drove down to ask my dad, and set the stage at his apartment. “Why don’t you come over for dinner tonight?” he said.
Seriously? Drop in for dinner?? I live in another state!
“It’s to celebrate our anniversary.”
Ok, fine. So I drive down there, planning to visit some friends who lived 20 minutes away after that. And I walked in to this:
as well as a beautiful poem asking me to marry him…. and this:
I don’t believe I officially said “yes” but my actions–the huge hug and beaming smile–spoke louder than any “yes!”
As soon as he proposed and I had the ring on, the curtain dropped. He flicked on the lights, blew out the candles, and switched off the montage of romantic, meaningful-to-us songs he’d created. The romantic proposal was over.
And then he proceeded to do the normal routine–he rubbed my feet, laughed at the stupid things I’d done that day, and cleaned up from dinner. We laughed and spun around the room to ridiculous music. Probably watched a funny movie and laughed our heads off.
But that’s ok, because the “norm” is where the real romance is for us. 🙂 Lots of men say all the right things and then flake out on the “actions” part. The follow-through. Loving their woman in the day-to-day. But Vince, well he said all the wrong things (often at the wrong times) but he loves his girl like a superhero. Every. Single. Day.