Today marks the fourteen-year and 364 day anniversary of poor Mr. Swirley enduring my rendition of John Mellencamp’s “Jack & Diane”. No wonder his ears routinely bleed.
I met Old Man Swirley in the fall of 2000. After chatting at a party where he broke a couch, I decided the most subtle thing I could do was draw a heart on a whiteboard and slap his name in its center. Hush up, I was 21.
A few weeks later, we hung out in a kitchen so dingy that it would even impress fellow Big 10ers. We stuffed our mouths with Smarties in an attempt to flirt while not actually having to talk to one another and then …crickets.
In November, we met up at a birthday dinner of a mutual friend, where I attempted to give him my phone number (WHO AM IT?), but failed miserably. How? I accidently wrote the wrong number on the back of a friend’s receipt. You would think he would see this as a red flag…
Months went on and I saw that that medium-built guy who seemed to love wearing size large shirts all over the place: basketball games, a comedy show, eating chili anywhere it was sold.
Once I saw him in the student union where he was late for a talk given by Oscar Wilde’s grandson. After he was out of ear-shot, I leaned over and told my girlfriend, “I’m going to marry that man”. Turns out that Wilde thing was an assignment.
Still nothing…until second semester rolled around and my two roommates and I vowed to seek out a date or forever be ashamed of our lameness. Luckily my lady friends reminded me of my nerdy heartthrob crush.
So I called Mr. Swirley [GULP] and asked him to go snowshoeing. I don’t do winter, like at all. So this was
what I was willing to do for a bet a Goddamn leap of faith. And then the snow started to melt. Obviously. Because why would Wisconsin be covered in snow in February? I prayed hard for a dusting of some white, devil powder on that fateful night of February 11.
The next day, Mr. Swirley picked me up in his old beater of a car with the ceiling fabric draped low enough to graze the top of my head. We drove to a nearby lake where we sort of snowshoed. I’m pretty sure he also bought some really ugly basketball shoes and then dropped me home at 4:00 PM. Awesome.
Fast-forward to stupid Valentine’s Day when I came home to a bouquet of handmade paper flowers in our mailbox. Given my roommate’s LONG list of sensitive, ponytail-sporting admirers, I assumed they were for her. Hussey.
Then I nosily looked at the card. STOP.THE.PRESSES! Our engineer friend, Mr. Swirley, has an artistic side. More importantly, the early conclusion to our date didn’t mean he thought I was a total dirtball.
So I rang him up and we went out to dinner. He ordered an open-faced Thanksgiving sandwich and I paid
Now we have a kindergartner, a war with the squirrels and so much shared excitement about our new front door. Even if he wasn’t going to that Wilde thing out of his own volition, he’s still alright with me.
And I know where we’re going for our anniversary dinner; Chili dogs outside Tastee Freezes just might be the key to keeping love alive.
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