He was drunk. He had a terrible handshake. (Read: wet spaghetti noodle.) And he had no clue he was being set up on a blind date with me. (Our mutual friend had failed to mention that part in between the sake bombs they knocked back before we all had dinner together.)
But despite the three strikes, it turned out to be the best date of my life. Because it was the night I met my husband. Matt was smart, kind and had a smile that more than made up for that horrific meeting of the hands.
The intellectual and physical chemistry was there, but—and of course there’s always a but—but he lived two thousand miles away—in Chicago. And he was newly divorced with two young children that, by the way, I thought were his dogs when he first mentioned them because our mutual friend had also failed to tell me that he was a father. . . to humans. And I had thought, that’s a little weird that he calls his four-legged friends his kids, but I was recently on a blind date with a cheap racist, so I suppose I can work with that. Oh, and I was a closeted commitment phoebe who, for the record, had no issue with the fact Matt had children, but had many issues with the fact that he was available. Not the typical recipe for relationship success for most, but it was somehow our secret sauce. Because as trite as it sounds, when something is meant to be, it just is.
Two years later, he proposed and I said yes.
I had organized a dinner with several of my closest friends before Matt and I flew back to Chicago where I had recently moved. My best friend and co-author, Liz, casually asked, “Are you going to wear that?” (I was sporting an argyle vest that I thought made me look smart.) I shook my head and she arched an eyebrow and simply said that she was going to wear a dress.
Later, we all met at my favorite sushi restaurant in Seal Beach. Thankfully, Liz’s not-so-subliminal-message hit home because I was no longer donning the vest. (Thank. Gawd. Because argyle and engagement pictures do not belong in the same sentence! Ever.) After we finished eating our half-priced sushi rolls, Matt started to stand up to propose, but I unknowingly thwarted his plan when I asked everyone to take a group photo. Apparently, the ring was in Matt’s back pocket and when I sat on his thigh, I was pressing his ass into the black velvet box. Ouch! (When I look at that photo now, I can detect a wince.)
It took a while to get the group photo right because when would we all be in the same room again? (Turns out just six months later at my wedding!) When I was finally satisfied, Matt walked to the head of the table. He launched into a speech about being thankful I’d moved to Chicago, but sorry he’d taken me away from all of the people sitting before him. I interrupted him several times, assuring him it was okay. My friends and I were fine. We had this new thing called Facebook! And I told him I was thrilled I’d move to the Midwest. (Please note that I had not yet experienced the bone numbing snow!) As I was “chiming in,” Matt was giving me these eyes—that I now know were saying—would you just shut the fuck up already and let me ask you to spend the rest of your life with me! But I was oblivious. And I blame the Sapporos.
Suddenly, Matt was opening a ring box and asking me to be his wife. And across the table Liz, the only one in on the secret because she is the Fort Knox of secret keeping, had pressed record on her Flip cam—Flip cam!
And then there were tears.
But they weren’t mine.
They fell from the eyes of my childhood friend, La Sundra. Bless her heart.
But somewhere in there, I said yes.
Yes, to a man who had long since corrected his spaghetti noodle handshake. A man who made a four-and-a-half-hour flight seem short. A man with two amazing children and, in case you were wondering, no pets. A man who showed me that you aren’t afraid of commitment when you’ve found the right person to commit to.
Lisa Steinke lives in Chicago with her family. Her recent novel, "The Year We Turned Forty", co-authored with Liz Fenton, is available in bookstores now.