At some point I thought that one or all three of our daughters would sit at my knee and ask about how their mother, Connie, and I met and fell in love…but alias, two are teenagers and the other a busy twenty-two year old none of which has any interest in hearing such mush (they still cringe, recoil and mock vomit whenever Connie and I hug and kiss) so I’ll blab about it on the internet instead.
The year was nineteen eighty-eight. The month, late February. I was a blissfully unaware twenty-two year old bachelor living in a great bachelor pad, a single wide trailer on the edge of a cornfield south of Mason City. I had been in hot pursuit of any and all things available and female, though having been hurtfully burned several years earlier, I backed off this pursuit figuring that when “Miss Right” wandered in the path of the “RICH RIPLEY RAILROAD OF ROMANCE” it’d just be right and that would be that. Remember, it was the nineteen eighties and folks didn’t wait until their thirties or forties to find a mate, they found one in college or even high school. I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever find someone that great.
As with many single folks at the time you heard a lot of “I have a niece, she’s a nurse, who’d be right up your alley” (having given up on finding a suitable mate in an alley I’d decline the offer) or “you should ask that deli clerk out next door” (oh you mean the one that has blonde hair, blue eyes, a cute figure and has a line of guys waiting to talk to her? I can’t compete for a gal who’s impressed with guys who drive Trans Am’s or Camaros. I’m a truck man!)
Well…lo and behold a lady that I worked with also worked part-time at a local grade school and Deb thought that this “cute single teacher” and I would hit it off. Having heard this kind of crap before I replied “Sure…have her come in the store. Let her check me out without me knowing of who she is and if she’s interested…we’ll talk.” Deb…God bless her…got Connie to stop by the store one night when both Deb and I worked. Deb let me know that Connie was in the store and was in the greeting card aisle. I casually and confidently strode past the greeting cards and peeked out the corner of my eye and thought I saw the future mother of our children….or not.
Connie, to her credit, went “all out” to impress me that night. She had just come from an exercise class and was wearing baggy gray sweatpants and a huge winter coat, so the idea of me “checkin’ out the goods” went up in smoke. I decided that this poor lass needed some RICH RIPLEY attention and did my best over-confident testosterone laced body language introduction that I could muster (it’s a miracle that she decided to go out with me is all that I’m saying seeing as how…in retrospect…I probably came across more like Barney Fife and not Clint Eastwood).
Our first date started at her “haunted mansion” type of apartment, then progressed to “That’s Italian” where they served….Italian food. I totally devoured my meal but Connie really didn’t eat much. I remember having two Pabst Blue Ribbons Lights, then driving to the movie theater where we watched “She’s Having a Baby.” What I remember most about the movie is that Connie reached for my hand, to hold onto…the Old Spice cologne that I was wearing was working its wonders…and I started to hold her hand when I realized just how sweaty it was and quickly wiped it on my pants leg. Yeah…it was hot in the theater. I found out later that she wasn’t real impressed with me at the onset…I drove a truck and wore cowboy boots…but redeemingly enough…I wore a sport coat and tie…so yeah…I was a mix between country western singer Kenny Rogers and the local TV weatherman, every girls dream.
We retreated back to her place and, wait for it…looked through her family photo albums. She pointed out her Dad to me in a photo and said “that’s my Dad; he’s a lot like Archie Bunker.” I replied “Wow…my Dad’s a lot like Archie Bunker too!” I drove home that night, with a second date already set up for the next day, thinking “Hmmm…this is odd. I’m excited and calm at the same time. I like this girl a lot.”
Our second date, watching movies at my bachelor pad went real well. We talked about long-term goals and such….on the second date. We shared 99% of the same goals and common-ground. Spooky. The next day I sent her a dozen roses to her school. She sent me a balloon bouquet. We did this unaware of what the other was doing for the other.
We spent the next week and a half together in every moment that we could. We talked about getting engaged in a year, then April, on her birthday. We talked about getting married in a year, then maybe in the coming fall…we were sure of things, each other and God’s plan for us. We surely couldn’t get engaged much less married so quickly…what would our parents think, what would we tell our children (I’m as serious as a heart attack…we talked about a lot of heavy stuff earlier on in our relationship….she told me on our first date what the name of her first daughter would be….and Jordan’s proof of that…Jo…you’re named after a painting your mother saw on the back of a Reader’s Digest. I’m dead serious. Ask to see it when you’re back on Spring Break)
So anyway…the jewelry store was having a half-price sale and I got it in my head…”I’m tired of waiting months to ask Connie a question that she knows is coming AND THE RINGS ARE HALF PRICE TODAY”…so I bought one). I asked her that night. She was stunned. She said “yes”. Neither one of us had met the others parents (still a big deal in those days, and we had only known each other thirteen days. But all was good and right…we both knew that we were meant to be together. Five months later, on August 6th 1988 we became husband and wife. Reception at the Estherville VFW. We now had in-laws…the best in-laws that you could hope for. I tease my mother in law that I’m her favorite son-in-law (I’m her only son-in-law) and she spoils me with baked goods and attention.
Twenty-five years ago this week…I met my best friend, tax accountant, mother of our three beautiful daughters, sexy Betty Crocker, vacation planner, co-pilot, sounding board, nurse, homemaker, bookkeeper, goofball, party-planner, appointment setter, critic, honeybun, analytical thinker and wonderful wife…Connie Sue. I love her to death and more often than not…irritate the dickens out of her because I’m practically the polar opposite of the above list yet somehow our good and gracious Lord put us and kept us together. I could thank Him the rest of my days and it wouldn’t be nearly enough, yet I’ll try.
This song and video was running on MTV at the time that Connie and I met. Everytime that I hear it, it reminds me of our early courtship (all two weeks of it).
Have a great week and don’t forget to do something totally unexpected for your loved one…it keeps ’em guessing as to what you’re up too! 🙂