With Valentine’s Day coming up on Sunday, I was thinking about romance themed things I could write about this week. And I thought of this: the best date that I ever went on.
First, let me tell you about the man who took me on this date. His name was Brian (or maybe he spelled it Bryan, I can’t remember now), and he was 28 when I was 20. He was unbelievably handsome, had a great sense of humor, was very sweet, and was very different from other guys I’d dated before him. He was tall, and he rode a motorcycle, and once tipped a waiter $50 on a $30 tab because he was so focused on me (but that was a later date, and another story).
Brian and I went on our first date in late 1999. I’m thinking it was October or November. He asked me out, and he already had in mind what he wanted for our first date: a live show.
He took me to see George Carlin, live, at the O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL. Now, what you may not know and what Brian I’m sure didn’t know, is that I’ve always been a huge Carlin fan. He’s foulmouthed and dirtyminded, and I’ve always loved him. We even have the same favorite song (Stand By Me by Ben E. King). So when Brian told me that’s where he wanted to take me, that would have gotten him a yes even if I hadn’t wanted to say yes already.
There was a small catch to this date: the tickets were part of a four-pack, so it was going to be me, him, and two of his buddies. But we were going to be sitting there with all those other people anyway, so that didn’t seem like that big a deal to me.
Brian rode his motorcycle to my apartment to pick me up, where he insisted on driving my car. He wasn’t willing to risk my safety on his bike, despite the fact that I had my own helmet and had grown up riding behind both my parents. He felt it wasn’t the right way to treat a woman on the first date. (Are you swooning yet? I was.)
So we went to the venue, where we were meeting his friends at our seats. His friends sat on the other side of him, so it was easy enough to forget there were four of us there together. We laughed so hard for the next hour or two, and then had to make our way out of the venue and back to the car, without getting separated or trampled – and his friends needed a ride, too. Brian held my hand to make sure he and I didn’t get separated, and his friends stayed close behind me, which gave me the added advantage of not being shoved around or stepped on – a real hazard when you’re short like me.
We made it back to the car, and if you’ve ever been to an event like this, you know that the traffic getting out of there is hell. We got out of our spot, but spent the next hour mostly sitting still, and occasionally creeping forward by an inch or two. But that was actually where the best part of the date happened.
His friends got tired of waiting, and decided they could walk home faster, so they got out of the car and left. Once they were gone, Brian, who was still holding my hand, smiled at me.
“I’m so glad they’re gone,” he told me.
“Because I’ve been wanting to do this, but I didn’t want an audience.”
Then he let go of my hand, leaned over, slid one hand along the side of my face, and kissed me. It was a very gentle, sweet, wonderful, lingering kiss. It wasn’t a deep kiss, but it lasted so long that traffic began to move, and the car behind us started honking because we weren’t moving.
He drove me home, where he stayed for an hour and we talked. He smiled at me, a lot. He held my hand, he stroked the back of my hand with his thumb, and he focused intently on me when I talked. He killed a bug for me, and even went so far as to take it out of the apartment and down to the dumpster, so that I wouldn’t have to imagine it was still alive and crawling around my apartment, seeking revenge (yes, I’m the mother of two boys, and I hate bugs!). He kissed me again as he left, another sweet, lingering, good night kiss.
Brian and I actually had a lot of potential. I often wonder where our relationship might have gone, had it not been for his roommate, who chose to pass along a mangled version of the message Brian left for me when his grandfather passed away and he had to go out of state for the funeral. But no matter how I imagine it, no matter how many other dates I’ve ever had, how many other men I’ve dated, that first date with Brian is the best, the most special, and the one I will always remember and treasure.
Brian treated me with so much respect, was so kind, sweet, romantic, funny, and present on that date. No one has ever met the standard he set that night. I’ve settled for less with each date and relationship I’ve had since.
But that’s okay. I had that one magical date, and that’s enough.