Wednesday, some of the students I work with at the Grayson High School Christian Learning Center asked what was my most embarrassing moment. As a life-long goober, that’s like asking Michelle Duggard to pick her favorite kid: there’s just too many to choose from.
However, one of my church students called out, “Tell them about your first date with Rachel.”
And immediately, I knew she was right. There couldn’t be a more embarrassing story in my past, with the exception of the time I threw up in the planters outside the Georgia Theater. But that is another story for another time.
So I began to regale the kids with the story: how I, nervous and shy, worked up the courage to email Rachel for a date, and how she, intelligent and beautiful, agreed to go. We went to dinner at the Old Norcross Train Depot, and I talked the entire time.
I just couldn’t shut up. I was young and intimidated, and I wanted so desperately to impress her that my mouth just uncoupled from my brain and the the most inane, banal, flat-out ridiculous stuff poured out of my mouth. And it wouldn’t stop. It just kept coming, like a bad magician’s handkerchief.
So there I was with verbal diarrhea, and she with a case of the zips: she wasn’t saying a word, just suffering in silence. I tried to wow her with deep thoughts, bad thoughts, empty thoughts; she just looked at me as if I were a blank wall. Sure, she tried to be kind to me (as she pointed out later, I had this annoying, lost puppy quality) and made small talk when she could, but after a while she reached her threshhold and just shut down.
It was the footrace that was the last straw.
We had left dinner and gone to Stone Mountain to just walk around and talk (okay, she walked, I talked), and in a rare moment of lucidity, I asked her what she liked to do for fun.
“I run,” she said.
What happened next has been permanently scrambled in my brain. I remember it like a Monet painting: deep impressions but scant detail.
I challenged her to a race. An honest-to-God forty yard dash. And for some reason, she accepted.
And if that weren’t bad enough, I beat her. Badly. And then poked fun at her.
“I thought you said you were fast?”
I’ll skip to the end: the rest of the date, all 45 minutes of it, were completely silent. Rachel didn’t say a word. I could tell things had gone south, but was utterly at a loss for how to fix it. So I drove her home. The entire car ride was silent.
When we pulled into her driveway, she simply got out of the car, shut the door and walked inside without so much as a glance back. I didn’t even have time to get my door open.
I had done her the ultimate disservice: I had acted like a macho jerk. I tried to impress her instead of get to know her. I had, for lack of a better term, been everything that she despised about men.
Until the phone call.
See, we went out on a Saturday night, so the next morning as I was sitting in my church choir, I felt a strong conviction that I needed to call Rachel and apologize. I didn’t hear one word of the sermon, the thought was so strong in my heart. And when service was over, I walked into my office and picked up the phone and dialed her number.
She answered. “Hello?”
“Hi Rachel, it’s Jason.”
“I just wanted to call and apologize for last night.” And apologize I did. Sincerely. I told her that I was wrong to talk as much as I did, that I was trying too hard to come across as cool and impressive, and that by doing so I betrayed her faith in agreeing to the date. I told her that, while a second date was obviously out of the question, I wanted to remain friends because she was an intelligent, Godly woman and I appreciated her insight.
More silence. Then…
It turns out God was telling her to be gentle with me because I was different. She listened, and now, 13 years after that date, we’re getting ready to celebrate 11 years of marriage.
Which is why I KNOW there is a God.
But I told this story to the kids in the CLC class and they laughed at my stupidity, awwwwwed at the way things turned out and in general seemed to appreciate the humor of the story. One of the guys even leaned forward and said, “You just gave me a buttload of hope.”
That’s when my student yelled out, “Oh – and she’s hot. Really hot.”
At which point I smiled and said, “Yes she is.”
I went on to tell them that before I ever met Rachel, way back in the day when I was just a dorky kid with no romantic prospects whatsoever, I sat down and wrote out a list of what I wanted my wife to be like. It had all of the normal shallow boy stuff (pretty, athletic, thin, cheerleader, blonde) and some of my personal quirks (smart, funny, kind, Southern) as well as some bizarre specifics too embarrassing to list. I didn’t keep the paper that the list was on, but as I grew up I kept the list in my head, adding and subtracting as time and maturity dictated.
When I met Rachel, every single item on the list was checked off. Every one.
In short, I married my dream woman. And have never regretted it.
My heart still beats fast when we have a date (and I try really hard not to talk too much). I still wake up amazed that she’s next to me. I look at our beautiful children and thank God she had the dominant genes.
And with Mother’s Day being this weekend, I am happy to be able to celebrate her, because she is an amazing mom, forgiving friend, and the best wife in the world.
You want proof?
For her celebration, we’re going out to eat and then seeing The Avengers.
A smokin’ hot ex-cheerleader with advanced degrees, a beautiful soul, and a small nerd streak she likes to exercise every once in a while?
Dream woman indeed.