Doc and I met at least twice over a span of several years, before we became friends or started dating. I think that if we had tried dating earlier than we did, it likely would not have worked out. Both of us — but especially me — had personal issues to work out, and I had some growing up to do and hard lessons yet to learn.
The first time was during my junior year in college. G. and I went to a concert in Dallas one weekend at a club, and I can’t remember who the headline act was but one of the opening bands was a local act called Au du Voir. After the show, we went to Denny’s, as was our tradition, along with Au du Voir, G.’s boyfriend TM, and a friend of TM’s who had long pretty brown hair and a goatee, little round glasses, a long coat, and was walking with a cane. I remember thinking he was attractive and very sweet but I was dating someone at the time so I didn’t give it a whole lot more thought.
The second time was when I was home for the weekend from school, and G. invited me over to her mom’s house one night to watch “Barton Fink” with her and TM and TM’s friend Doc. Once I met him I remembered him as the nice guy from that night at Denny’s. I was too dense, apparently, to realize that it was sort of a set-up. I don’t remember too much about the evening other than I was extremely tired and I fell asleep on the sofa during the movie.
In February of 1995, well after TM had achieved “asshole ex-boyfriend” status, G. and I moved into our first apartment as roommates. We had a housewarming party shortly thereafter, and G. asked me if she should invite Doc (sans TM, of course). I remembered him from our previous meetings and said sure, he seemed nice. He came to our party, dressed sharply, smelling fantastic, and he brought us a gift: three paper bags containing tiny dried rose buds, frankincense, and little orange suction dart guns. I thought he was cute, and very nice, but he was seeing someone at the time and I was still casually involved with PCN.
We had several more parties that year and invited him to all of them. During a party over Memorial Day weekend, he was perusing the shelf of CDs in the living room, and turned around and asked us, “Whose ‘Lamb Lies Down on Broadway’ is this?!” I had been talking to someone else but immediately my focus shifted to Doc. It’s as if all other sound and people in the room faded away and he was the only person standing there. I had never met anyone before who had even heard of that record, let alone liked it. I have always felt like somewhat of a loner with my love for 70s progressive art-rock (Genesis, Yes, U.K.), and now someone who shared my obscure interest was standing in my living room! I was suddenly interested in nothing else but talking to Doc.
We discussed music all night, even hijacking the TV in the middle of the party to watch a VHS tape of early Genesis history that I had, which he had never seen. We talked about a lot of things in addition to music, and I was finding him more and more intriguing. He was extremely intelligent, clever, funny, a great storyteller, and exactly my type, physically — long hair, eyes that crinkled up when he smiles, strong, gentle, pretty. We’d both had a little to drink, and as we were sitting on the floor in front of the TV, I found myself reaching over to brush a strand of hair out of his eyes. Automatically, without even thinking. Of course, the minute I did that I felt incredibly self-conscious: I had crossed an intimacy line and I hardly even knew him yet. I was hoping that he’d interpret it as just plain flirting, and not think that I was out of bounds.
He already had a girlfriend (yet he never brought his girlfriends to any of our parties…) and I tried not to let myself get my hopes up too high. I was still feeling some of the trauma from my breakup with Eeyore less than a year before, and I wasn’t too interested in rushing into another serious relationship, because at that point it didn’t feel like I could survive another crash-and-burn ending. I felt fragile, and not yet trusting enough.
From then on, we invited him to every single party we had, as well as some parties that were not parties at all. For instance, on the Fourth of July, G. and I packed a picnic dinner and drove to Fair Park. I think that it was G., her boyfriend, me, and Doc. We lounged in a grassy median in the parking lot, drank wine coolers, listened to a Boston concert wafting over the walls of Starplex, and watched the fireworks. I knew that I was more and more interested in Doc the more I saw of him, but he wasn’t seeming to get the message. Was I too subtle? Had I forgotten how to flirt? Was he just not interested in me?
On Halloween, K1 and I dressed up in leather and fishnets and went down to the Oak Lawn Street Party along with Doc and G. K1 was leading me around by a leash attached to a black leather collar. We were VERY popular; everyone wanted their pictures taken with us. Doc dressed in black pants and fancy tall boots, a ruffled white lace shirt, and a long black Victorian coat. His hair was down and his beard was pointed into a little V. He looked amazing. The street party was very crowded so several times I took his hand to lead him through the crowd. We sat in a couple of overstuffed bars and played thumb wars.
Later, when we were ready to leave, K1 couldn’t walk anymore because her thigh-high stiletto boots were a size too small and her feet just couldn’t take it anymore. She and G. sat on a curb while Doc and I walked back to retrieve his car, parked several blocks away. We climbed into his car and sat there talking for a few minutes, and I suddenly leaned over and kissed him. (The way he remembers it, he leaned over and kissed me. Maybe we both did at the same time!) He then said “Here’s the thing… I’ve just broken up with someone, and I need a couple of weeks to get things kind of finished up from that.” I told him that I could wait while he got things sorted out. I was just glad that he was finally not dating someone else, so I could have a chance!
A few weeks later, we had our first date. He took me to Kostas Cafe, a Greek restaurant. I can’t remember if it was before Thanksgiving or after, but he also came over to our apartment on Thanksgiving Day, when G. and I cooked for our families.
That was in November of 1995. We got engaged three years later (neither of us were dying to get married or anything; we both had trust issues to deal with and that timeframe seemed like a very natural progression for us) and married in November of 1999.
We have just celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary. Time sure does fly. I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I’m not saying it’s been an effortless ride for either of us — marriage/committed relationships do take work, after all, and every couple has their particular issues — but I feel like we both have so much love and passion for each other, and we communicate so well, that we can make it through most anything.