(originally published 6/25/2018)
This is the story of how I met my husband, Michael.
I was out with my cousin, Helen, at a bar in Minneapolis to listen to a beloved local band that had decided to reunite/play a late, impromptu gig. I was 27… and I never went to bars. Because I was chicken and didn’t like the predatory feel of the few romantic interactions I’d had in them. Meaning now there’s some irony to my forever-answer to the question, “Where did you meet your husband?” !! It had been more than a year since I’d been in a place like that after 10 p.m. on a weekend.
Anyway, the bar was packed – seriously, wall to wall people – but when we walked in, one of the guys playing pool near the back nudged his buddies and (as Mike revealed a few months later) pointed me out. This guy was/is a friend of my husband’s, and I’m told he said, “Look! There’s the next Mrs. Stevens over there.” Yep.
Eventually, Mike and his friends moved to the opposite side of the bar from my cousin and me… and they started trying to call me over to talk with them. I was not typically courageous in such situations, but I laughed at their airplane landing moves and walked over. The three of them were like wolves, surrounding me, standing too close and shooting rapid-fire questions – who are you, what do you do, where are you from – and I was so unnerved, I dropped my glass of beer. It shattered at my feet. All three guys immediately extended their own glasses toward me. “Here!” they said. I tried to laugh it off, to pretend this sort of thing happened all the time, but I was pretty freaked out by the intensity of their attention. I signaled to my cousin I wanted to get out of there.
Now, it must be said that Mike was the least aggressive of my male entourage that evening, and I found myself sidling toward him. He’s bigger than his friends, taller and more muscular… and I now think I was subconsciously seeking protection. And I’m 5’10”! No shrinking violet! Nonetheless, one of the other guys cut me away somehow to talk. During that time, a stranger slipped Mike a note – I’m truly not kidding – that said, “Get her away from them. She belongs with you.” I kept that note for years but somehow lost it during our last move, unfortunately.
As we were about to leave, Mike asked me for my number, and, sad case that I am, I said no, I didn’t give my number out in bars, but I would take his, which he gave to me. I slipped it in my pocket and expected never to call him. Helen and I left.
The next day – yes, the very next – I ended up calling him. I had tickets to a play at the Orpheum that evening, and the friend I was going with had a family medical emergency come up and couldn’t make it. So I called a few other friends, but they weren’t free, either. Over the course of two hours, I tried to contact every friend and acquaintance I had, with no luck. I called old high school friends. I eventually tried to give the tickets away to parents of friends, with no takers… meaning by the time I remembered I had Mike’s number in my coat pocket, I was in a snit. By then, going to that play with someone had become synonymous with not being a complete social loser. My self-esteem was fully on the line when I called Mike.
He later told me he knew – knew! – I was the one calling when the phone rang. I was courteous and professional. He was warm and confident. I told him I’d meet him at the theatre. He insisted on coming to get me. I let him.
We had a great time. Unlike the previous evening, Mike was reserved, respectful… which made me wonder if maybe he wasn’t into me. He kissed me chastely good night when he dropped me off. That time, when he asked me for my number, I gave it to him.
The final nail in our marital coffin, as I like to call it, occurred two weeks later when Mike took me out for Valentine’s Day. It was beastly cold out – I’m talking negative 30 with snow up to my waist. I was a working girl not making too much, but I did have a nice pair of leather gloves lined with rabbit fur, and I wore them to our dinner. When Mike dropped me off at my apartment afterwards, we realized one of my gloves had gone missing. We searched his car, didn’t find it, and I ended up leaving without it.
At noon the next day, the receptionist at my office called me up to the front saying there was a gentleman there to see me. It was Mike, looking semi-frozen and holding my missing glove. He extended it to me and reported, “I found it.”
People, I have lived in Minnesota most of my life and I know what someone who’s spent time in extreme cold looks like. In the space of a minute, I learned he’d taken the morning off from work, retraced our steps from the previous evening, and found my lost glove. My response? I thanked him, of course, but I didn’t have words to encapsulate the magnitude of what his effort represented to me. He watched me in that careful, intense way of his. I eventually confessed, “I have no defense against…. against whatever this is between us.” His expression relaxed and he smiled at me. “Want to go to lunch?” Yes. Yes, I did. I got my coat and took his arm.
Sometimes when I’m blue, I ask Mike to recount the story of when we met. He says for him, it was like getting “snake-bit,” was definitely love at first sight. I can’t say I was the same at our first encounter, but my ‘love at first sight’ moment happened two short weeks later. 😉
Errin Stevens is the author of The Mer Chronicles series: Updrift (Book 1), Breakwater (Book 2), and coming soon, Outrush (Book 3).