Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Look Back In Time - 19 Years Ago Today.... My first date with John

Today, April 10th is the 19 year anniversary of the day that John and I went out on our first date.  As a gal who has always had an affinity for calendar dates and numbers and just happens to also be a romantic, John is reminded of this date every year. 

John is also reminded of the day we first met (an easy one since it was April 9th, the day before), the date he proposed to me (May 19th) and of course, our wedding anniversary.  I've even got him trained to remember my birthday!  (Just kidding, of course.  John, it's November 25th.  Mark it down!)

The story of how we met is chronicled in John's blog tonight.  Feel free to check it out to get his version!  I was starting my blog tonight planning to do a full rendition here but he beat me to it and so I'm going to change my own direction just a bit in keeping with the theme of Autism Awareness Month and talk about my own social awkardness, social cues and dating back in the day!

John and I met on April 9th, 1991 at an apartment complex called Fair Oaks West in Sunnyvale, California.  I had recently moved there and being a nice spring evening, I took a short walk and decided to check out the facilities.  Angie, my friend who initially enticed me into moving to the complex (and who turned out to be the maid of honor at our wedding) talked a lot about there being lots of activities there (swimming, tennis, movies, pool, volleyball, game nights) and plenty of cute single guys.  I had recently come out of a relationship and was interested in meeting someone but I had never been good at reading guys' signals.  This was also my first time in my own apartment since college days.

On this particular evening, I took a walk through the clubhouse and went out by the pool.  I was fully dressed, having recently gotten home from work where I worked in Inside Sales. Funny for an Aspie? Oh yes, I know!  Amazingly, I've always been good at sales, way back to my Girl Scout Cookie selling days and March of Dimes Walkathon pledge taking.  Analyzing it now, I guess sales was a lot like acting or role-playing.  Success often entailed me smiling, being a good listener, asking the customers questions about themselves and their needs and giving them great service.

When it came to beginning dating and my subsequent dating life, I suppose my social script wasn't too much different.  Smile, be a good listener, ask my date questions, compliment him and hope he wasn't a creep who just wanted "great service".   (Sigh... oh the stories I could share....)

Something was different about April 9th.  It was a Tuesday and I had bowling league later in the evening.  In all actuality, I really didn't need to be heading down to the pool but something drew me there.  Serendipity?  Destiny?  As John will attest in his own blog, he wasn't initially planning to be down by the pool that night either.  Perhaps it was fate....

As I went out by the swimming pool, I happened to glance over at the hot tub and that is where I first saw John.  Wow... what a hottie!  I smiled and he smiled back.  (He jokes that he had to look behind him to see if I was smiling at him but he was the only one in the tub worth looking at!)  Of course at this point, my heart was pounding, I was nervous as could be and so with an orchestrated move of charm and grace, I reached down to test the temperature of the pool water while I could try to think of what to do next.   I wasn't quite prepared or experienced in approaching cute, half-naked men in a hot tub.  What to do???

Being that I was clothed, I didn't really have a good legitimate reason to go over there but yet I was drawn to this cute guy.  (Totally not my style to take the initiative like that....)   I surmised very quickly that there was a gate behind the hot tub that led out into another part of the complex and that if I casually walked by the hot tub and the cute man without a shirt on ignored me, I could make an innocent exit through the gate like that was my intended plan all along.  (So smooth, I know... I laugh inside as I type this.)

So plan in mind, I walk over to the hot tub, smile and amazingly, this guy says "hi"!  At this point I must mention that it felt VERY socially awkward standing fully dressed next to a hot tub full of guys only in their bathing suits, especially a very cute one that happened to want to talk with me.  We conversed for a bit and I learned he had just come over from Japan.  In my line of work, I worked with a lot of Japanese customers so I said a few things to him in Japanese.  He was so funny as I know he didn't expect that.  Then he said something about having also been to Russia and I said a few things in Russian in response.  At that point, he sort of dropped talk about international travels.  It was so sweet and cute because I know he was trying to impress me. 

After a few more moments of chatting (him still in the tub, mind you...), he asked if I'd like to go out on a date sometime.  I immediately responded, "yes".  He said, "Great! When?" I blurted out (with all the social grace and etiquette of a hippo in the ballet), "how about tomorrow?" 

In retrospect, I realize this eagerness would either have scared off most guys or given the impression that I was extremely easy.  Fortunately, John didn't seem to pick up on my social faux pas and agreed that Wednesday would be fine.

At this point, it occurred to me that I didn't have my purse, a pen or paper and of course HE didn't have one because he was in swim trunks, so I suggested that I go up to my apartment, get my business card, write my home number on the back and bring it back down to him so we could coordinate our date.   As I left through the very gate that was to be my saving grace if I had made a fool of myself, it occurred to me what if I came back and he wasn't there?  Ironically, John was also thinking at this time, what if I left and didn't come back?

Fortunately, it was a happy ending because the card was transferred, a date was made and we went out on Wednesday, April 10th, 1991 to a wonderful Italian dinner at Pezzella's in Sunnyvale, CA complete with chilled red wine (John's blog tonight has the story on that!!!!) followed up by a fun night of dancing at The Oasis nightclub in San Jose. We danced atop a swimming pool, a first for John and rather fitting considering we had met near a pool the night before.

He proposed to me a little over a month later and we married in July 1992.  Justin was born in 1999 and Ryan was born in 2006.  This year we'll celebrate 18 years of marriage.  What a ride it has been!

I wonder today if I had known I was on the autism spectrum if I would have dared to take the chance to walk by that cute guy at the hot tub.  I would like to think yes!  God brought us together for a reason and we were meant to be together and were meant to be the parents of the amazing boys we have been blessed with.

Happy 19th Anniversary of our first date, John!  I Love You!

~~ Karen

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