How Erick and I got from avoiding each other at all costs to an eventual couple had some bumps along the way, at least for me. The summer before my senior year of high school, I had a boyfriend I had been with for a few months. My way of being nice – which I am doing for my own conscience – will be to call him the Plaintiff instead of using his real name. The Plaintiff, who was older than me and had already graduated, was going to come cheer me on from the stands as I did my Homecoming court thing. I was really excited, it being my senior year and all, that I left school early to go get my hair and nails done and do all things girly before I got escorted down the football field. After I was all gussied up, I went back to the school that evening and I kept calling the Plaintiff. I hadn’t heard from him all day, I wanted him to see me, and I wanted to take pictures with him before he had to go sit in the stands. After multiple failed attempts trying to contact him, it was time for me to take to the football field.
When all the excitement had faded away and the new East Central H.S. queen was crowned, I changed into my band uniform and slipped my phone into my pocket in hopes of hearing from the Plaintiff later. It never happened, though. I never heard from him and was left embarrassed, disappointed, and without a ride home. It didn’t take long for my being stood up to become a buzz in the band hall. I’m pretty good at hiding my emotions, but I guess the constant checking my phone made it obvious I was upset.
Having worked its way through the grapevine, Erick came and told me he could drop me off at my house on the way back to his. I said yes, and before we made it to my house we took a slight detour to Denny’s because we both hadn’t eaten supper and it was already around 11:30 at night. Shoveling stuffed French toast into my mouth, it felt good to actually talk to Erick – to have things back how they used to be before we had our awkward date. I wondered if he was thinking the same thing, or why he even bothered to help me at all since we had been ignoring each other. Regardless of intentions, God ruled in favor of the defendant that night – me. I was glad to get my mind off of the Plaintiff and have someone to talk to on my less-than-great day.
Rumors spread quickly at East Central and the following Monday people who I barely knew were telling me they saw the Plaintiff the night of homecoming with another girl. The Plaintiff of course denied these accusations, but a few weeks later we were no more. Months went by and Erick and I began talking and hanging out more and then one day the offer for a second first date came. We decided to skip anything even slightly related to a theater or eating and ended up going to the Japanese Tea Gardens so we could walk around and talk.
At the Tea Gardens, everything was going great; we were laughing, telling each other stories, and holding hands, until it happened. As we rounded the corner on the winding concrete path, we started to hear them – a lot of them. Cats. We saw at least a dozen of them through the trees and upon closer observation, we saw a man, too. Dressed in a long black trench coat (It was August in Texas!), a tall, slender, dark-haired man, who in hindsight now resembles Mr. Filch from the Harry Potter movies, was sprinkling morsels upon the ground feeding the cats. As nice as a gesture as this might be, stumbling upon this guy in the Tea Gardens, off the designated path, in the wooded area, and in a trench coat made both of us uncomfortable. We quickly walked past the man, pretending as if we never saw him, but really how do you ignore THAT?! If real men love cats, then this guy was extra manly with a side of creeper. Once back at the parking lot, we began laughing at how a situation as odd as that could only happen to us.
On September 22, 2006, the “us” became official and together we strived to always have a perfect date because every one we went on after the cat day had something weird or horribly wrong happen. Prom led us to get lost and end up in an airport terminal. Dinner led us to restaurants that spilled clam chowder on Erick’s lap. Countless times resulted in me saying “there’s our exit” after we drove by. Always something unusual happened, but the company has always been amazing for the past 5 years, 5 months, and 22 days. I am so glad we had our second first date, and I wouldn’t change anything that happened along the way. Bring on the crazy cat dudes. I’m ready.