Although I had hit 'Reply' I didn't really know what to say. There was something inside of me telling me this one was worth a shot: why, I didn't really know. Sure, he was attractive and his familiar face put me at ease but what would make it work this time when I had failed in the dating game a few weeks before? Besides, he was close to fifteen years my Senior and his profile stated that he had kids-plural form!
Up to this point I had never even considered dating someone with children. My personal preference of dating would have been someone who was divorced only because they would be more sympathetic to my minor melt downs and occasional hiccups on the road to recovery. But, a divorced man with children; that was something at this point I had never even considered. Don't get me wrong I liked children, I just wasn't sure if being a wicked stepmother at the ripe old age of 24 was something that was in the cards for me.
Convincing myself it wasn't worth it after all, I clicked "Cancel" on the message and tried to forget about the man who told me in a message, "You are beautiful and I just had to write you and give it a shot." Sure, I had lots of men throwing out compliments in hopes of getting a date, but there was something about this message that was different; it had been the only one that I actually believed.
If you had heard the voice inside my head that day, you wouldn't have been able to ignore it either. She was screaming at me in a British accent between my ears, "You bloody idiot! A guy like this doesn't come around everyday. Sure, he's online getting dates, but guess what? SO ARE YOU. That doesn't mean he wears pleather underwear and has white tigers as pets. Maybe he's like you....he just doesn't know where to start. Do you think you aren't worth it? Do you think you don't deserve a second shot at love? You decide your own fate. If you don't give yourself the opportunity to find happiness, maybe you don't deserve a second shot; maybe you deserve a lifetime of eating alone with your dog and watching your arse grow to the size of a bean bag chair. GO OUT AND GRAB IT, before the chance passes you by".
So, given the voice inside my head was beginning to threaten taking on the voice of Fran Drescher and also the tiny fact that secretly I knew she was right, I logged back on Match.com, clicked on the message from Plano_mtn_clmbr and hit "Reply".
"Thanks for the compliment. How are you?"
Now, I know the message was not much and any normal person would probably take it as a blow off. But, I was leaving it up to fate. If he was truly interested in me, he would take the bait and go from there. Common sense was telling me that since it had taken me hours to respond he had probably found someone to have a good time with tonight and I would be the last on the list.
But, good ole' Fran Drescher knew what she was talking about; in a matter of minutes I had a reply. We spent the next hour emailing each other back and forth slowly but surely revealing more and more about ourselves. Before I knew it, I found myself laughing at loud at his responses and not being able to remove the smile that had formed on my face. This man I had never met had already found the smile I had misplaced a few months before.
I shared the ugly with him: that I'm would never be the best cook; i leave lights on and kept the water running when I brushed my teeth; I still had hang ups over my second grade teacher; I was overly obsessed with my dog and I had been called crazy by more than one boyfriend.
He told me that he was from Mississippi and lived by the motto: What Would John Wayne Do? He shared with me about how much he loved his kids and how much he loved his motorcycle.
We talked about faith and how we had both experienced the heartbreak legalism can bring into your life. And then he told me he use to be a deacon at a Baptist church. Oh, and not just any Baptist church.....the church where I use to go with my ex-husband....the church where I was no longer welcome.
Before I continue, I must note....I am not a man and I don't have a penis but if I were to guess what it feels like to be kicked in the nads....the wave of gut wrenching agony I felt upon this discovery was the closest I had ever gotten to the experience. My stomach was in knots. Why did my past continue to haunt me? Would I ever get away from it all? Would I have to move from the city I love and called home to distance myself from the evidence of my failed marriage?
Upon this discovery, I initially thought there was no sense in even continuing our courtship. I figured the minute he discovered by former last name he would make a hex out of his fingers and run aways screaming. I tried to convince myself that in a church of 25,000 members, the likely hood that he would know me and my story was slim to none. Sure, maybe we had past each other a time or two in the hallways but the chances of him discovering who I was and exclaiming, "Ooohhhh, you're THAT Jennifer" followed by him spitting at me and casting a stone or a frozen frapachino (whichever one was available) towards me would be highly unlikely. Right?
Despite the risk, I wanted to meet him. I hoped this was the kind of guy who wouldn't judge me for my past. If this was a man who would look past the ugly to see the beautiful, I had to find out. When he asked me out for a date the next night, I said yes.
Although I had grounded myself from Vodka a few months earlier, I gave myself a one day pass and made myself a cocktail whilst preparing for my date; a really strong cocktail. Trying on at least a 47 tops, I ended up choose a black v-neck blouse that had just enough cleavage to make you look and not enough to make it look like I wanted you to. I left my house 5 minutes after the date was initially suppose to start and hoped he wouldn't mind a fashionably late entrance on my part.
Arriving in the parking lot, I sat with my head perched in my sweating hand praying to God to ease my nerves. I was as prepared for a date as I could be; had my best friend on speed dial, a can of pepper spray in my purse and enough deodorant on to keep me PH-balanced through the weekend. I had made a point not to shave my legs so even if I had several glass of wine I wouldn't succumb to fleshly temptation due to the woolly mammoth hiding under my True Religion jeans.
But I was terrified because deep down I just wanted to be loved.
The wine bar was dark and the music was overpowering. The bar was long and lined the entire right side of the room. Slowly walking down the side of the bar I tried to find the man I was suppose to meet based on a few pictures I had seen. For an instance I remember the man I had met a few weeks ago and the photo fraud I had experienced. For all I knew, I could be searching for a Mary when he was really a Rhonda (if you've never watched the Mary Tyler more show...never mind). But, the moment our eyes met, I knew that was exactly who I had come to meet.
I couldn't believe my eyes. This man was even better looking in person. He was tall and had a presence about him that dominated the room. His smile was crooked and kind of quirky and it made my stomach flutter. He had a private table reserved for us in the back so we could talk in a more intimate setting and he gently touched by back as he guided me to our seats. He took the lead and ordered a bottle of wine I had never heard of and asked sweetly if that was okay.
The conversation flowed as smoothly as the wine. Before I knew it an hour had already past and the talking had yet to reach a null. The evening was progressing to be one of the best first dates in the history of first dates. In my mind there was nothing that could put a damper on it. But, somehow the course of the conversation turned to church and I was faced with the inevitable; tell him that I too, use to attend the church he was speaking of or keep my mouth shut. I decided there was no other way around it. Regardless if it was an ender, from now on my relationships would be based on trust and understanding. If I wasn't honest now, I may end up getting my heart crushed in the future.
Casually I said, "Yes, actually that is the church my husband and I use to attend".
"Oh, really? Were you two really involved in the church?"
"Ummmmm......you could say that".
"Well, actually my father-in-law was a minister there"
"What's your ex-husband's name?"
I paused. Sometimes the truth can set you free and other times the truth can kick you in the groin. I wasn't sure what the out come of this confession was going to be, but there was no turning back. It wasn't as if I could tell him I was just kidding and that in fact I had never been married before and I actually was a Methodist thus making the wine I was drinking not a sin. With a deep breath, I told him my ex-husband's name.
Silence. Plano_mtn_clmbr nodded his head, looked in my eyes and said, "Yes, I know him very well. In fact, I was his Sunday School leader when he was in the Youth Group".
Awesome. F-ing Awesome.
To be continued....