How we metTruth be told, we probably met years earlier as she was in the same Girl Scout Troop as my sister, and our mothers were both leaders. So during that time our paths probably crossed indirectly, but we'll forego what neither of us really remember and fast-forward a decade or so. When I first started at the local eatery known as "King's Family Restaurant" I was but a lonely bus boy clearing tables and washing dishes. A year later I had graduated to the kitchen, and a year after that I was the supervisor of the overnight shift every Friday and Saturday night.
It was around that time that she began working as a hostess and cashier until such time she was old enough to become a waitress. She stayed mostly to the weekend mornings with the occasional afternoon shift. I, being the night-owl that I am, stayed on late afternoons and overnights. As such we rarely saw each other there, except briefly in passing; until I started working Sunday mornings in an effort to get some more free time during the week.
The First DateNow believe it or not kids, but around the turn of the century cell phones were not as ubiquitous as they are now. However the traditional form of oral communication be it face-to-face or via corded phone was still overrated. Thankfully, though still in it's infancy, the internet did offer another option known as AIM, or AOL Instant Messenger. It was on in that program, on a rather large (as compared to today's standards) home PC that our love started to blossom. After some playful flirting, and a not-so-subtle hint on her part (something along the lines of "you won't ask me out"), a date was made; lunch at a local steakhouse where she insisted we pay separately. Of course I wouldn't listen, and paid for the entire check.
The Moment I RealizedAfter lunch, we started a playful little game of her trying to give me cash for lunch and me giving it back that lasted throughout the parking lot. Well everything was light and friendly until I tried to win the game and found something... unexpected. I slid the money into her pocket and jumped in my car. Before I could get it started and put into gear, she found the money and threw it in my open sunroof. So to try and give it back, I rolled down my window, leaned out, beckoned her to come over, and executed my plan of giving her a small kiss goodbye while again slipping the money into her purse. While I was able to pull that part off, the part she never knew (and probably still won't if she doesn't read this) is that that is the precise moment I learned she was my one and only. As sappy and played out as it sounds, that first kiss was all it took to for me to fall in love.
DenialI spent the next couple weeks trying to fight it. She would ask if we were a couple, and I would deny it simply because I didn't want to date another coworker. Even though I enjoyed spending time with her, and we went out constantly, I tried and tried to fight what was so obvious. But like always, I'm the last one to pick up on everything. When I finally gave in and conceded the fact that we were a couple, the rest, as they say, was history. Sure there have been hiccups and disagreements, and there will probably be many more (a vast majority of which will undoubtedly be my fault), but I can no longer deny the fact that this woman is the best thing to ever happen to me.
The Last MinuteA short 5 years later I finally fully gave in and decided this was the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I quickly devised a plan to pop the question at the beach while we were on vacation with my family; but in my classic fashion I did everything last minute, and it came back to bite me. Ordered the ring, which was scheduled to take 4-6 weeks to come in and we left in just under 6 weeks. But the store offered to work with me, that if it arrived too late i could have it over-nighted to another store closer to where I was free of charge. Then I waited until the night before we left to finally build up the courage and tell her parents my plan. Her dad, who had just got in from a night out with his brother who was in from out of town. Needless to say, he was slightly less than 100% lucid and other than being a little annoyed at my timing took the news in good spirits. Beach came, and no ring. Spent every day calling and asking, and apparently it was lost in shipping. So the last day, I sucked it up and decided to go without the ring. We went for a walk on the beach to collect shells, and opportunity struck when she asked me to hold everything we collected and turned her back for moment. She turned around to see the shells on the ground, but me on one knee, taking her hand, and the rest you can probably guess.
After she said yes, I told her I did have a ring, I just didn't HAVE her ring, and told her the whole story. So the entire ride home was spent with her on the phone to friends and family telling them the news. The night we returned we went to party with her family, and they jokingly asked if we picked a date. We grabbed a calendar and started looking, deciding to wait at least a year for he to finish school and get settled into the job that was waiting for her. My one request was for fall or winter, as I did not want to be stuck in a full tux in the summer heat. So we randomly picked the last Saturday of October, and the date was set. It seemed like fate when I found out that was the anniversary date of my paternal grandparents.