Ugh, you know I hate it when I whine. Not only do I manage to annoy my readers, I annoy myself. To boot, it makes me feel guilty. I am a very lucky person, with much to be grateful for: health, money to pay my bills (um, hopefully...), my family is safe, my car is currently running, etc.
So this post promises to be 100% WHINE-FREE. *readers cheer and applaud*
Instead of whining about how much love stinks, I'm going to list anecdotes from those moments in my dating history when something GOOD actually happened. (Single guys, you might want to take notes.)
This might take me a while. Let's see....it can't all be bad....right?
One summer in high school, I briefly dated this guy, who, despite my raging acne and teenage insecurities, thought the sun rose and set on me. (At the time and to this day, I have no idea what he was thinking. Seriously.) I would love to say that I appreciated him for seeing such wonderful things when he looked at me, but he ended up being a horrible kisser, so it didn't last long. Also, his main hobby was dropping acid in first period, which really wasn't my scene. If I remember correctly, the vast majority of my attraction to him was due to the fact that he worked at Steak n Shake and he would give me free milkshakes when I came in. Also, he had a fantastic collection of rave/techno CDs which he'd let me borrow. Gosh, I had such high standards then...but, he does stick out in my memory because of a wonderful evening. He called me one afternoon and asked me if he could pick me up at 8pm. "Sure," I replied. "What are we doing? And wait...you don't have a car."
"Don't worry, it's a surprise," he said.
My parents said it would be ok, although they didn't like him very much (he had a few too many piercings for their taste). As I started to get ready (for what, I had no idea), I realized with horror that I was breaking out in hives all over my body. (To this day, I have no idea what caused it, nor have I had hives since). In order to avoid looking like a freak, I was forced to wear jeans and a long-sleeved top to hide my itchy, red bumps. Keep in mind this is in the middle of summer, so this outfit was very out-of-season and was making me sweat buckets. Wow, sexy.
8 o'clock rolls around, and he picks me up in his friend's car: a brand-new white sports car. He had somehow gotten off of work early and talked his coworker into letting him borrow the car.
I was already impressed. And we hadn't even gone anywhere yet.
We got in the car and headed towards downtown Indianapolis. (Remember, I went to high school/college in Indiana). He refused to tell me where we were going. Once we got to the heart of downtown, he parked the car. We got out, and he grabbed my hand. "Come on!" he said excitedly.
We walked into the ground floor of one of the skyscrapers and got into the elevator. I was curious when he hit the button for the top floor. I had no idea what was going on.
The elevator doors opened, and we stood at the entrance to The Eagle's Nest. It had just opened, and I had only heard about it: the rotating restaurant on the top floor of a hotel. (You can see a pic of the view if you click on the link). We got a table by a window and ate dessert as we watched the sun set over the downtown skyline.
Now, I'm not one for romantic gestures, as the vast majority of them make me throw up a little in my mouth, but this was pretty good, I gotta say. Anytime a guy puts forth effort like that, I'm always impressed. Considering I can still remember every detail of it over ten years later, I'd say this was one of the best dates of all time. Even though he ended up locking the keys in the car and we had to wait for a locksmith to open it. Which was pretty funny, actually.
I dated a guy my sophomore year of college. He's a great guy, and we are actually still in touch. We just have nothing in common. He is a rock climber. I am not. So that pretty much sums up why things never worked out between us. After finding myself on the side of a mountain in Kentucky one weekend, I remember thinking, "Ok, I just don't know about this."
*Readers who know me in real life are staring at their computer screens right now, jaws in their laps. "VB? On a mountain??? Willingly??"*
But the reason I will never forget him, even if we lose touch, is this: he would write me love letters. Good ones. So good, in fact, that I have kept every single one of them. (Maybe I should tell him?) To date, he's one of only two guys who ever wrote me love letters. Since he lived in Indianapolis and I was away at school in Bloomington, we had a long-distance relationship. So phone calls and letters were really how we spent time together between 2ce monthly visits.
The letters were never too corny or sappy. Just very sweet, thoughtful and honest. At the time, I remember being amazed at how open he was about how he felt. Come to think of it, I still am. But one letter in particular stood above the rest. It was a card. The front was blank, except for a little red heart. The inside had something short and cute printed in the middle of the facing page. But I can't remember what the little printed greeting was. That's not why I kept the card.
I kept the card because in every possible space, crammed in teeny-tiny writing, over and over and over, it said, "I miss you." It must have taken him forever, and I would say he wrote it at least 100 times, all over the inside of the card. My eyes welled up with tears instantly. Every time I take the card out to look at it, my eyes well up again. And sitting here, typing this story, my eyes are welling up just thinking about it. I'm sure he had no idea at the time how much that card would impact me or how much I would treasure it. Whenever I think about it, to this day, it puts a smile on my face to know that at one time, someone felt that way about me.
Again, it's the effort that gets me when it comes to falling for men.
*VB leaves to go find kleenex.*
Ok, deep breaths. I'm better now. Gosh, maybe I am a little sentimental, now that I think about it. I have always said I'm not much on bubble baths and champagne, but maybe I am. I have always thought of myself as liking the same kind of romance as The Czarina: the very unromantic kind. "Fall for the guy who jumps your car," she has always told me. (Apparently, WLF scored major points with her by jumping her car one day. I gotta say, that would also score major points with me.)
There is something to be said for a guy who goes out of his way to make your life easier, even if it doesn't involve roses or chocolates. A reliable man whom you can count on is most definitely a keeper.
Which leads me to my final anecdote. While this isn't as grand a gesture as what the high school boyfriend did, and it doesn't bring tears to my eyes like the card from the college boyfriend, this gesture I'm about to share made me just as happy.
Right out of college, when I was living in Fayetteville, NC and teaching school, I dated a string of army guys. (Ft. Bragg is in Fayetteville, and so men in that town outnumber women by about 8 to 1. It was a fun year, let me tell ya. I always tell people that Fayetteville is like Disneyworld for Single Girls). Anyway. The first guy I dated was named Dan.
Soon after we started dating, Dan was getting out of the army and moving home to Oregon. Because he was in the process of getting out, he had some time off, and since he was technically no longer in the army, he needed a place to stay for about a week before his flight left to Oregon. I told him he could stay with me.
Meanwhile, I was working 12 hour days as a first year teacher. One day, I whined to him about how filthy my apartment was and how I had no time or energy to clean it. "I'm cleaning it tonight when I get home. I can't take it anymore," I said. Then I went to work.
By the time I got home that night, he had cleaned my entire apartment. Everything. He even put the clean dishes away and picked up all my clothes. He even dusted. The whole place was spic and span and smelled fresh and clean. When I realized what he had done, I began to literally squeal with delight. "Yeah, guess what I did all day?" he said, a big grin on his face. I literally jumped into his arms, showering him with kisses and then proceeded to make him dinner.
A few days later, he moved back to Oregon. He wanted to keep in touch, but I really didn't see the point. We didn't have all that much in common and we hadn't been dating very long. But he was a really sweet guy. I'm sure he's making some girl in Oregon very happy now.
Well, those are the three that stick out in my mind the most. I'm sure there are more, but I can't think of them right now. In a way, it's experiences like these that keep me going, that keep me hopeful about dating. Someone did nice things for me once, and someone will do them again. Although the relationships never worked out with these guys, I am grateful to them for showing me how there are good guys out there and that I am worth a little extra effort.