|Slightly unrelated picture with my friends Laura and Joey, and my faithful wreath Max|
If you want me to keep going with the first-date-to-exclusive-couple part of this tale, let me know and I’ll do my best to oblige. Long-winded and overly dramatic tales in personal blogging seem to be my forte. ;) But for now, I’ll just take you up through our first date in this section and the next.
As you can tell from the past few posts, I credit the start of our relationship to the Immaculate Conception novena, the prayers of my friend Alex, and the prayers (from Heaven) of my friend Matthew.
A word about Matthew’s role: as Catholics, we believe the veil between Heaven and Earth is very thin. If your friend prays for you on Earth, why can’t he pray for you from Heaven? This is why we have such strong and special relationships with the holy men and women who have gone before us; we think of the saints as big brothers and sisters in the faith.
I know Matthew prayed for me when we knew each other on this earth, and I am confident that he continues to pray for me now. I look forward to the day when I can thank him for being such a faithful friend—bringing Frank and me together is only one example.
Meanwhile, after our long car ride the day of the funeral, my relationship with Frank didn’t suddenly pick up. In fact Frank dropped off the face of the earth again. He texted me a little bit, but his finals were the following week and if you have never had the pleasure of experiencing (or watching someone experience) law school finals let’s just say it’s impressive he remembered my name, much less whether he was supposed to call me.
But unbeknownst to me, Frank was biding his time. He had made up his mind to ask me out after finals, and now he just needed the right opportunity.
His chance came a day or two after his last exam. At the time, he was a member of the DC Shakespeare Theater (a love for Shakespeare and the theater is something we have in common) and occasionally the theater would email special deals to its members. By a perfect coincidence, they sent out a deal for their January show, Much Ado about Nothing … set in 1930s Cuba.
Frank had heard me gush about Much Ado, one of my favorite plays, and he was well aware that my parents and grandparents immigrated from Cuba … I’m pretty proud of that little fact and somehow always find a way to work it into conversation. ;) The play couldn’t have been a better fit for me. Frank was elated. In his words, “I figured I had just one shot to impress you and make you want to go out with me again”—and the play was just what he’d been looking for.
There was just one catch to this perfect scenario. The deal was open for a very short time, and he had only a few hours to buy tickets before they sold out. So Frank did what any 21st-century guy would do, and texted me to ask if I could go.
I tease him about this from time to time—asking me out via text? Come on now. :) But of course I was excited to hear from him, and I agreed to go see the play on January 7.
Now, I want you to know that he asked me around December 15 (I think—we don’t remember the exact day). That meant I was going to have to wait almost 4 weeks for our promised date. Think about that for a second. Four weeks from asking to first date? Can you imagine the torture??? I mean, who does that to a girl? Needless to say, while I was excited, I was also a bit peeved.
My office had a big, very fancy Christmas party coming up the following week, and Frank shamelessly angled for an invitation. I decided not to invite him, knowing my coworkers would ask, “Is he your boyfriend?” I didn’t want to deal with that. I think part of me also wanted to hold out on him a little bit—you know, make him wait, and maybe make him a little more eager for my company. I had been waiting on him for a while, after all!
But office party or no, I was very interested in spending time with him. My roommate and I held a Christmas party around that time, and I made sure to invite Frank. I remember asking my college friend Joey before the party, “Let me know what you think of this guy Frank. I think he might be interested and I need a good friend’s opinion!”
Frank brought spices and wine to the party for making mulled wine on the stove. He “mulled” and stirred while I served drinks. My apartment was packed that night, but somehow it felt like it was just the two of us in the kitchen, joking around and working quickly over the hot stove. There are some pretty terrible pictures of us from that night—we were both red-faced and over-heated—but we were having so much fun, and somehow the pictures don’t capture the heart flutters (on my part at least!).
|The least embarrassing picture from the Christmas party|
The following Sunday Joey and I decided to go visit the Phillips Collection art museum in downtown DC, and I invited Frank and a few other friends to join us. Somehow Frank got the impression that another guy there liked me (I may have deliberately fostered this impression… a little romantic competition never hurt a man, right?). So he stayed by my side all day and was at his most charming, giving out sweet compliments and making me blush. After the museum we all went for drinks at Kramers, and Frank insisted on buying mine. If I didn’t suspect he liked me before, I certainly did after that!
His behavior Sunday convinced me that Frank wasn’t just being a good friend, but was genuinely interested in me. I reconsidered inviting him to the office party and texted him a last-minute invitation, but by then he had dinner plans with an older couple from his church and reluctantly turned it down.
I figured this was for the best (I still didn’t want to deal with nosy co-workers!) but it also stood out to me that he was so involved with his church. Since he attended a Protestant church, this gave me a little bit of pause. Was it ok to entertain dating him, knowing that our religious differences might be an issue someday? I decided to push the thought to the back of my mind and deal with it if things got more serious.
Frank similarly wanted to spend more time with me before the holidays separated us for several weeks. The last Conservatism on Tap of the year was taking place a few days after my office Christmas party. You remember Frank and I met at one of the Conservatism on Tap (CoT) nights, so the event had special significance for us. He came up with the idea of meeting me at work and taking me out for drinks before the lecture. At least that way we would have something date-like before our “official first date,” which was still several weeks away.
Frank showed up at my office right on time, but unfortunately I got stuck working late that day (which was really rare at that job, except for Friday nights, so we were both shocked!). By the time I got out, we barely had time to make it to the lecture. I was happily oblivious, but Frank was disappointed. We did manage to walk through the pretty downtown Christkindl Market which was directly on our way, and I wondered if Frank had deliberately planned to walk there with me since it was rather romantic, with the Christmas lights, gentle music playing, a light snow falling, and stalls full of books and ornaments. But then Frank's college friend Tom* appeared out of nowhere—also on his way to Conservatism on Tap—and that sort of killed the romance.
My boss was actually speaking at that night’s CoT, and we really enjoyed his great lecture on journalism. I had told him beforehand that the audience was mostly my friends, so he made a few jokes at my expense (I was his assistant responsible for keeping his things in order, so the jokes came easily!) which were a hit. I think it was the best CoT lecture we’d heard.
After the lecture Frank and Tom rode the metro back to Virginia with me, as they always did. Our metro car was strangely empty that night, so we began to talk freely. For some reason, Tom decided the time was right to helpfully talk up Frank to me … except his idea of “talking up Frank” was to tell me wildly exaggerated stories about how all the girls in college swooned over Frank, and how he broke half the hearts on campus. Frank did nothing to disprove this, just made some joking comment to “not believe any of it” that only seemed to confirm Tom’s stories.
I was not amused. If there is anything I can’t stand, it’s a player. For the first time I had serious misgivings about Frank. He had always seemed so thoughtful, so kind and caring, but suddenly I saw his actions in a different light. What if those were just “tactics” that he used on all the girls? I began to wonder if I had totally misjudged him.
In retrospect it was stupid to take Tom’s words seriously, especially since I knew Frank pretty well by then, but at the time his stories caused me some inner conflict. The most ironic part is that Frank didn’t have anything close to a Casanova-like dating history. In fact it was the exact opposite—he hadn’t dated a whole lot before he met me, and with me he was kind of making it all up as he went along. Why Tom thought that telling me those stories would help Frank’s cause remains a mystery. I think there is a valuable lesson to be learned here about not interfering with friends’ romantic lives! (Of course I’m the worst offender at that—Frank calls me “Emma”—but I digress.)
The next day I was flying out to Chicago for Christmas vacation, and I wouldn’t be back in town for almost two weeks. I left with excitement and hope, but also some worry, in my heart. I was looking forward to my date with Frank more than I could say, but a seed of doubt had been planted too. I thought maybe it would be wise to take everything he said and did with a grain of salt. I also thought it would be wise to keep my options open and perhaps still consider dating other guys.
What a change from a few months before! I never would have dreamed of having eyes for anyone other than Frank. But now, worried about his intentions, I resolved to “play it safe” and not let myself get too attached. A few funny mishaps would come from that resolution before we were finally, safely settled as a couple.
*Not his real name