The last Thursday of every month Adventures in Dating features a guest blogger or reader to share their dating mishaps, triumphs, tips and tales. This month I am honoured to have my dear friend from University, Christa sharing the story of her last first date.
It was a warm and sunny evening when I drove to Brantford in my Volkswagen Beetle to meet the one I had christened “The Engineer”. He called himself Brad. Shortly after arriving, I was regretting not offering my cell number, because I didn’t see him anywhere. A minute later, Brad pulled in the parking lot in a champagne-silver Saab. As far as first impressions are concerned, he had just scored a point with a grown-up, elegant vehicle.
Initially, he had already earned brownie points for suggesting a “meeting” (in his opinion) or a “date” (in mine), without any poking or prodding from my end. I was finished with relationships that I steered and controlled my way through – this was a new beginning and I was not going to be taking the reins.
As he stepped out of his car, I could tell he had definitely made an effort by wearing a neatly-ironed dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up (more brownie points – forearms are hot). I was surprised to hear how deep and confident his voice was as we said ‘hello’, but what really made an impression was his sweet and gentle disposition.
After living in England for two years and dating that guy that “you should have just stayed friends with”, I needed a re-entry back into the dating world. Coming from a small town, all the eligible bachelors had, by now, been married to their high school sweethearts and were raising small offspring. Fearing for my future, my dad and brother encouraged me to give online dating a chance. Enter: eHarmony.
Brad held the door open for both me and the couple behind us. He definitely wasn’t wreaking charm and charisma from every pore, but my nervousness was quickly eased because I felt a sense of calm around him. As we ordered, I waited to see if he was going to offer to pay but, as the seconds ticked by, I jumped in and ordered for myself. Brad ordered a Shirley Temple. I wasn’t sure what to make of that.
I was only 28, but in my small home-town, the sweet ladies at the church had all but given up on encouraging me that “my time will soon come” to find a husband. I had to face my options: 1) Find a rich old man to marry and bide my time until his death and my inheritance 2) Buy four dozen cats and learn to knit or 3) Pull a Brangelina and just start adopting kids from every continent to fill my house. Needless to say, it was difficult to maintain any sense of reality while at home. I needed to branch out.
We sat down and started to talk. I had resolved not to say a lot and dominate the conversation, but this proved to be a challenge as Brad didn’t seem to have a lot to say. It was as if he didn’t feel the need to fill every single aching silence. Eventually, my personality took over and I found myself chattering away happily. Brad asked deep questions and listened actively as I waxed eloquent on art, education and spirituality.
eHarmony was only supposed to be a distraction. I listed my profile and went on four or five dates, purely with the intentions of exercising my comfort in the dating world. I was beginning to accept and appreciate my singleness and enjoyed the excuse to get dressed up and eat free food, while enjoying the company of those outside of my usual realm. I was not looking for a husband.
Despite Brad’s quiet nature, the conversation was rich. We dared to ask each other the deep questions and didn’t mind volunteering honest answers. He almost seemed to drink in the words I said. When I asked him why he joined eHarmony, he surprised me by answering flatly, “I’m desperate”. Right then and there, I knew I would accept a second date if asked. Brad was deep, genuine and serious, but I could see that there was a whole other side to him – a playful and challenging personality that loved life. I didn’t admit it to myself then, but I was already starting to fall for him.
My perfect man was perfectly built. I knew what I wanted, and was just waiting for the “Right One” to come along. I knew I wasn’t destined for a life of singleness, but was getting tired of experiencing life alone. I wanted someone who would take me on his adventures and come along for mine. I had dated these guys and loved the time we spent together but, for some reason, the relationships never stuck. I wasn’t quite sure why the men with everything I wanted didn’t seem to want me…
After two hours, I prompted the end of the evening and Brad walked out with me to our cars. This is where the evening almost fell apart. According to my opinion and experience, this would be the appropriate time to ask for a phone number, suggest the possibility of another rendez-vous, and have some sort of physical contact – a handshake, hug or even a high-five (not recommended). None of these things happened. After what seemed like hours of standing in the cool night air and staring off at nothing in the distance Brad, in his wisdom and logic, stated, “Well, this hasn’t dissuaded me”. I’m pretty sure I laughed out loud. I thanked him for the factual evaluation of myself and our meeting/date.
As I drove home that evening, I found myself enjoying the replay of the past two hours in my mind. Brad definitely had potential: he was innately unselfish, sincerely interested and, best of all, inherently sweet. When I got home, I already had an email waiting from him, in which he bravely confronted the intensely awkward goodbye and asked to see me again. I said yes, without hesitation – because I knew there was more to this guy that I could find out in two hours. A tiny part of my heart was whispering that he just might be “The One”.
Editor’s Note: Brad turned out to be the one for Christa. They were married on July 21, 2012.