9.

First dates are awkward. Not ever assured of the desired outcome of longtime commitment, they are fueled by nerves that cause mistakes that are amplified to a point of latent hilarity, are inundated with awkward conversation, and wear the hallmarks of adolescence as adroitly as a New York supermodel sports Michael Kors’ latest spring creation during New York Fashion Week.

Oddly, however, these nervy initial meetings still maintain their post as times of hope. What follows here is the tale of one such encounter, proof that, in spite of their signature moments of embarrassment, these premier moments of being with a person with whom an attraction is shared can indeed lead to lifetime fulfillment. To date, the following couple has remained faithful to each other for 21 years.

********************

“The first time that we went out by ourselves, ” Tracy remembered while leaning back in the leather recliner, “was when you tricked me into going out with you [by saying that] we were going with a group to see ‘Sweeney Todd’…”

“Yeah,” Tegan warily replied, re-experiencing the night’s exciting, but strangely bare-assed instances, “We went to go to see ‘Sweeney Todd’ at the Marriott Lincolnshire. And it was a lame trick because I told him that a number of our friends were going…Well, of course I knew it wasn’t going to be true, so the friends ‘cancelled at the last second,’ y’know? And I pretended to have a free ticket, since the show was expensive.”

“But wait! Wait! Wait!” Tracy interjected excitedly, recalling a significant detail. “So he shows up at my parents’ house in Old SpiceDowner’s Grove to pick me up, and he is doused in cologne!”

“I was doused in cologne,” Tegan admitted, his face reddening.

“And we’re talking Old Spice!”

“It was Old Spice! And the reason I was dipped in it was because I spilled it on myself as I was leaving. And not being very fine cologne, Old Spice doesn’t dissipate quickly.” Here, the storyteller effectively paused. “So my thought was that after a drive to his house in my car with the windows down, that I would be fine. But I had reached a tipping point where I was not fine. I was absolutely soaked in this Old Spice, and it was no better when I got there.” Tracy began to laugh. “Well,” Tegan continued, shrugging off the outburst, “I lived in Wheaton at the time, and he lived in Downer’s Grove. It is a fairly long drive, around forty-five minutes or so. So,” he paused pregnantly , “I [got] to his house an hour-and-a-half early, parked the car, and walked around the neighborhood, pacing, pacing, pacing, trying to get the Old Spice off, and just fantasizing the entire time, wondering if this could be the one…”

The pair laughed, waxing on the accidental (and slightly offensive) olfactory experience as its stature lessened into another detail in their long trip to see the musical “Sweeney Todd.” For along the “scentuous” thirty-seven mile trip from Tracy’s front door to the suburban Equity Theatre, another obstacle remained. Travelling along I-294, an Illinois Toll Road that did not passenger-door-panelhonor the I-Pass at the time because the certificate was non-existent, there was still the issue of tossing obligatory handfuls of change into awaiting receptacles.

It is more easily done when the driver’s-side window is operable.

“He had to open the back door to throw the change!” Tegan’s partner giggled.

“You mean the back window?” Tegan corrected lightheartedly. “See, I was having a situation with my car,” he admitted, scratching the back of his head.  “It had power windows, but the driver’s side window was broken in the ‘up’ position, while the driver’s side door handle wasn’t functioning at all. So,” he waited, suspending the punchline, “I had to pay by rolling the back passenger window down, and then whipping the money [through it].”

By which point his young date realized that he had been baited and switched.

Photography Credits:

Old Spice, the Drugstore.com Website. View Date: 2/28/2015 http://www.drugstore.com/old-spice-after-shave-classic/qxp319011

Rear Car Door Panel of the 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee, The Stolz Motors.com Website, Viewed 2/28/2015. http://www.stolzmotors.com/inventory/2009-jeep-grand-cherokee-laredo/

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