Earlier this week Chuck and I celebrated the anniversary of our first date. We always recognize the day but we don't make a huge deal out of it since we have a wedding anniversary to celebrate as well. Usually we go out or cook dinner together, and sometimes we catch a movie. This week we have been very short on free time so we stopped in at our favorite Mexican restaurant and shared some fajitas (the best we've ever tasted) in between errands. We've been pretty stressed lately and a break was really nice.
Our first date was January 6, 1996. It was my freshman year of college and his junior year. We met at a weekly meeting of the Christian organization Campus Crusade for Christ. I don't really remember the very first time we met. I was new there, so everyone was new to me! Chuck says he remembers seeing me for the first time and knowing right away that I was Connie's sister. This has always been funny to me because most people don't think we look alike at all.
That Fall we gradually got to know one another better by being involved in the same campus organization and going on a few retreats as a group. Getting to know Chuck was not very easy because he was very shy back then. What helped tremendously was getting to know him a little more personally by e-mail and online chatting. I was very new to computers back in the mid-90s. A college buddy taught me how to use the "prehistoric" machines in the computer lab and I was so happy because I could keep up with my BFF who'd gone to a different college back home. Downstairs in my dorm there was a tiny common room that had two computers in it. I would often pop in there at night to check my mail and before long I started chatting with Chuck, who was often online from home (we attended college in his hometown, so he didn't live on campus). I began to realize that the shy guitar player I thought I knew was actually quite witty, not to mention smart and kind.
Still I was pretty surprised when he asked me out on a date. True to form, he asked me over the computer instead of in person. He said he'd really been wanting to go see the new movie Toy Story, and did I want to go with him?
Well, I wasn't sure. I was still afraid the date would be awkward and that his shyness would prevent him from talking to me (keep in mind that I didn't have much dating experience). I went ahead and said yes, then went upstairs to quiz my sister (who was my roomie, too) about this guy. She couldn't offer much. She said all she knew was that he was very quiet, he played guitar, and he used to have long hair! I told her I'd just agreed to go on a date with him. We were both pretty clueless about what to expect but relatively confident that he wasn't an axe murderer, so I kept the plans.
It was very cold and icy on the night of our date (ice storms aren't terribly unusual in Northern Louisiana). The roads were somewhat treacherous and in fact he'd been in a minor fender bender just a few nights before because of the ice. This was before the days of personal cell phones, so I remember his parents had let him borrow their bag phone for the 30-minute drive to the neighboring town. I always think about how one day I'll have to describe to our kids what a bag phone was! We had dinner at a Mexican restaurant and then we went to see Toy Story - the original one. He was interested in seeing a movie that was entirely computer animated. I'm sure I didn't even know that at the time but I was ok with seeing a cartoon. The most important thing, though, was that in the hour that we were in the car round-trip, the conversation was great! We both talked the entire time and it was never, ever awkward. I couldn't believe that the guy I'd barely heard speak an entire paragraph was suddenly so comfortable. (After living with him for 10 years now I can tell you that this is still true. Chuck is shy in a group setting but much more comfortable one-on-one.)
The best part is that on the drive over he was very straightforward about his intentions about the date. There was no pressure - he thought I was nice and he wanted to get to know me better. There was something about him spelling it out that way that really spoke my language. I'd been strung along for several weeks by a guy whose intentions were very vague. I wasn't sure whether that guy was interested or not interested; we'd have a "date" here and there and then he wouldn't call for days. It was so refreshing to not have to guess at this one. After he dropped me off that night I went upstairs in the dorm to chat with some girlfriends. They were floored that a guy would be so forthcoming, and insisted that Chuck needed to teach a class on dating etiquette! All of this reassured me that I'd done the right thing saying yes to him. I certainly did the right thing when I said yes to his marriage proposal in August of the next year.
Maybe it seems silly to celebrate a first date anniversary, but we still do it. It was a great date and we love reminiscing about it. I almost forgot, a couple of days after the date I got a Toy Story postcard in my mailbox on campus. I pretty much knew then that there was something special about this guy. He still does charming things like that today, and it's one of the many reasons that I enjoy looking back on that date 13 years later.