(for Part 1, click here)
I learned later that he was not at all discouraged by my aloof greeting. If anything, he took it as a challenge.
Sure enough, we started dating—casually, at least—within just a few weeks of that initial handshake. We didn’t tell anyone, though. It didn’t make any sense to get all the youth group kids, both my junior highers and his high schoolers, involved yet. So, on Friday or Saturday night, we would go on a date on the far side of town where I lived—closer to my school—but on Sunday morning at church, he would sit with his group and I with mine. When our paths crossed, we kept it cordial and guarded.
“Good morning, Sherry.”
“Good morning, Andy.”
Two ships passing in the night, and all that.
Our casual dates went on for a couple of months. Concerts, movies, picnics, long conversations at late-night restaurants. We brainstormed youth group ideas and helped each other set up and staff events. He was a really nice guy and we did seem to have quite a bit in common, but I wasn’t convinced.
Then one week he called me and asked if he could take me out on a date that Friday night. Of course. A weekend date had become somewhat standard by that point. I told him that was fine and we agreed upon a time. Before we concluded our phone call, though, he added with a hint of mischief in his voice, “Dress all crazy this time. We are going to have fun. Seriously, dress crazy, ok?”
Ok. I agreed to dress crazy, whatever that means. At first I was excited. I like crazy. Crazy is fun. But then the doubts crept in. What if we have completely different ideas of what crazy means? I fretted over the next couple of days.
Finally, Friday arrived and it was time to get ready for my date. I gathered my courage, then set to work. Boldly, I combined my favorite flowered shorts with a red checkered shirt—collar flipped expertly up—and slipped on two different shoes. For accessories, I added my blue Disneyland bucket hat and oversized round John Lennon sunglasses. One of my roommates contributed her clunky plastic toilet earrings, complete with movable seats and lids. Finally, I topped off the ensemble with an old grey and blue plaid suit coat from a thrift store and rolled up the sleeves just right. I looked in the full-length mirror in the hallway. Yikes. I was a sight. He had said dress crazy. But had I gone too far? I would know soon enough.
There was a knock at the door. He was right on time. I held my breath and opened the door.
He looked just like me.
We were a perfect match.
I breathed a sigh of relief and my confidence soared—both in myself and my ridiculous appearance, and also in the potential future for this relationship. My roommate snapped a photo of us and off we went.
I was curious what he had planned for us to do dressed up like that. Certainly, it was going to be a crazy evening. Nope. His plan was to do very normal things in a completely abnormal way, all while dressed outrageously, just for the sheer pleasure of seeing people do sly double-takes, elbow their friends and point at us, and whisper and giggle behind our backs. We played a round of miniature golf—a very normal date night activity—but made up our own rules and unconventional ways to use our standard putters. After mini golf, we went out to a very normal dinner, but at a nice enough restaurant that we would be an absolute spectacle. We closed the evening with a walk, arm in arm in all our crazy glory. It was the most fun on a date I had ever had.
Looking back on that night from this perspective, 30 years later, I realize that night was the beginning of us. That was where our future together began. We have not always seen eye to eye on everything, and we have definitely had our share of struggles in our marriage, but this was where we began. And this is who we still are.
(for Part 3, click here)