My next e-mail from Dan contained a piece of trivia. If I could answer the question, I could win a prize I wanted more than a 4.0 mug. It said, “take ya to dinner if you can tell me the album and group that sings “A Day in the Life”.
Panic set in. That track wasn’t on any of my Disney CD’s, my Steve Green CD, Jurassic Park, Beach Boys, or my roommate’s Rebecca St. James CD! Ack. After a few frantic breaths, I geniusly turned to the vast knowledge of the internet.
I figured out that the song was by the Beatles, but I guessed the wrong album twice before getting it right. Thank you, Lord, for second and third chances. (my “quickly over quality” Achilles heel could have proved the death of this relationship that day)
Friday, February 20, 1998 we went on our first date to Bravo’s Italian Kitchen. He picked it because it was pretty far off campus so we wouldn’t run into fellow students there. (Did he not want to be seen with me? Oh crap!)
Of course, while we are waiting to be seated we spot a gaggle of drama girls also waiting for a huge table. All of them spot Dan and start batting their eyelashes at him, drawing him into conversations etc. This didn’t bode well for poor lil’ ol’ me. Thankfully we were seated pretty far away from them–0ut of (my) view at least so I could settle down a bit and retract the claws.
I ordered Cheese Ravioli al Forno and Dan had Penne Mediterranean. (Some people recall events by the date, I remember events by the food) Dan’s previously boring turkey sandwich was replaced with an exciting bowl of penne with lots of exotic things like kalamatta olives, pine nuts, and sun-dried tomatoes, while I had practically chosen the Chef Boyardee selection from the menu. Conversation was a little stiff. It had been a long time since I had been this interested in a guy that I didn’t know a single thing about much less what to say or do around him.
Halfway through my meal I looked down at my plate and saw I was cutting my ravioli into concentric squares and eating very linearly. I remember mentally scolding myself, “you’ve got to leave a jagged edge somewhere, don’t let on that you’re OCD about food-eating practices, alert! alert! don’t screw this up! Quick, switch to spoon, do something, anything to show him you are normal!”
After our meal, we went to Barnes & Noble (Yessssss! A “happy place”; quiet and surrounded by books!) We learned more about each other as we walked around looking at books, magazines, movies, music, etc. giving opinions and telling stories about people and places and situations that a title, picture, or game reminded us of. This was where I first learned that Dan faithfully writes in a journal every day.
On the (kind of quiet) drive back to school I started a game of “what’s your favorite…”, which we had to answer back and forth. He came up with some doosies, like “what song would characterize your life right now?” (Gulp, what’s up with all the music questions?) I chose Allison Durham “When I Lay Me Down” and he chose something about being broken before he could be used.
As we got closer to campus, he said, “I don’t wanna take you back yet.” Good Lord, was he reading my mind? Or reading a script from the most delicious movie ever written? All I knew was that my heart was thumping out of my chest…
We went to a park and saw other couples huddled on benches *keeping warm*. We ended up on the stage at the gazebo talking about some past relationships and basically trying to analyze and feel each other out psychologically.
That darn curfew put an end to a glorious evening. When I arrived back to my dorm and entered my hallway, my girls had strung toilet paper across the hallway and hung a sign saying, “no RA’s beyond this point”. All my girls were waiting for me in Heidi Jo’s room to hear all the juicy details of the evening.
Needless to say there was much squealing, clapping, and girly giggling as I recounted the effervescent details to them. I wrote in my diary that the evening was extremely “cerebral”. Oh dear. I don’t think that was quite the word I was searching for. But seriously, this guy was turning the girl on campus nicknamed “the steamroller” into something mushier than the cafeteria oatmeal.
A few days later it was my 21st birthday. This was a birthday I will never, ever forget…