“Make sure you bring your swimming suit!” he exclaimed before we hung up.
I had only known him a few weeks and he’d already begun to change my life. I was learning more about him as time went on, but a few things were a given: 1) family first 2) he was old school: opening doors, buying dinner, making plans and 3) he was refreshingly unpredictable. Number three on this list was why I wasn’t too shocked at the request to bring my swimming suit to dinner.
This was only our second official date. We were both divorced single parents and had to arrange our time together around our kids. This didn’t bother either one of us and only led to excitement as the day drew nearer. We talked on the phone nightly, so it was almost like seeing each other every day. The ironic thing? He always called me! I didn’t even know that was possible- a guy calling religiously.
I grabbed my suit and hopped into the car. We were meeting about 30 miles away at a restaurant I thought I knew the location of. I hummed along with the radio, curious as to what on earth the suit was for. I smiled that a swimming suit was involved. It was that moment I knew for certain he was okay with my curvy physique.
I came out of my daydream just in time to realize I had no clue where I was going. I was so frustrated! For years my family had teased me about never being on time for anything and now this! I called him to get directions.
“Where are you?” he demanded.
“Uh … I’m sorry. I’m lost.”
My heart jumped. He wasn’t usually like this.
“I can’t believe this. I’ve been sitting here for twenty minutes!”
“I’m sorry, wait …” I had a flashback of our first meeting. The deadpan comment about a Spiderman shirt and the smug little smile when I figured out he was kidding. I continued, “… wait. You’re messing with me again! God your humor is subtle and in your face at the same time!”
“Yeah, but I really had you going,” he laughed and proceeded to give me directions.
I arrived at the restaurant and was shown to his table. Being old school, he stood up to greet me. Surprising myself, I hugged him and gave him a kiss. I did it without thinking, which is not my nature at all. He blushed, but didn’t seem to mind. I was then escorted to my seat and we had a wonderful meal and conversation.
Finally, I couldn’t handle it anymore. I had to ask.
“What is the suit for?”
“You’ll see. Would you like to come back to my house? I won’t be out of line, I promise. I just thought, considering how long our last date lasted, that maybe we’d like to be a little more comfortable.”
“But the suit!”
“You’ll see. Trust me.”
And I did trust him. That was the truly crazy part about him. I trusted him more than I trusted many of my long time friends. He was so gallant in his treatment of me that I held no reservations about going to his house. I think that was one of the things that really impressed me with him. He listened to me and was intuitive about my insecurities, even if he had insecurities of his own. He knew I wanted to proceed slowly, but he also knew I wanted to get to know the real him as well.
After dinner, I followed him to his house. The house was a quaint little ranch in a small subdivision. Very Ozzy and Harriet as my mother would have said. He welcomed me inside. Seeing the inside of his house told me a lot about him. I could see remnants of having once been married. The drapes were definitely not chosen by him nor was the lighthouse border running against the ceiling. I could also see evidence of a man in transition from marriage to bachelorhood. The place was clean and well kept up. Laundry was neatly folded on a small table, waiting to be put away. I knew this neatness wasn’t on my account…things were obviously cleaned on a regular basis here. I observed his unmitigated declaration of bachelorhood. A gigantic, yet elegant, painting of a golf course hung boldly over the sofa. Nothing a woman would pick, to be sure. Finally, signs that he was a father, first and foremost. There were matchbox cars parked neatly along the mantle and a Playstation with games like Lego Star Wars and Indiana Jones.
“Have I shown you pictures of the boys?”
I could tell how proud he was as he brought the pictures over. He didn’t even need to say the words. These two were his life; they were his world. How was I lucky enough to stumble on to such a man? He took me on a tour of the house that ended at the bathroom.
“Now, ma’am. I believe you have a suit to change into.”
“Yes, I do, but what are you doing?” I smiled through my protest. To be honest, I loved surprises of all kinds. If I were to be 100 percent truthful, mail and checking my inbox are like Christmas for me, so this surprise was wonderful!
I came out, towel in hand. He was standing by the back door and night had finally fallen. He slid the door open and bowed deeply as he gestured me to the backyard. It was gallant and comical at the same time as he was in his bermuda swimsuit. I stumbled out onto the dark and unfamiliar deck. I waited for my eyes to adjust to the darkness.
“Let me help you. I know its dark.”
He took my arm and guided me out into the yard as thunder rumbled in the distance. Then I saw the surprise. I was initially let down. There stood a four foot deep, twelve foot across pool. I couldn’t hide my disappointment.
“A pool? A little pool?”
He smiled and kissed my forehead.
“It’s all in how you view it. I learned a long time ago that I had to meld my adult world with the world of my children. So, during the day, yes, it’s a pool. But look at this through my eyes. Every day has been near 100 degrees. The kids don’t even use it in the day. But at night, ah, at night …”
He led me over to the pool and climbed in. He turned around to help me in.
“… at night, this makes the most wonderful outdoor hot tub any parent could ever ask for.”
I giggled at his ingenuity! He was amazing! I slid into the water to find it warmer than most hot tubs. The water surrounded me and relaxed me. He slid over next to me, only to cuddle. He was truly a man of his word. We stayed and began to reveal more of our lives deep into the night. As we talked, lightening flashed in the far distance, providing a light show to go along with our relaxing dip in the tub.
He held my hand as we spoke. Finally, he lifted my fingers to his mouth and kissed them.
“I don’t mean to interrupt our conversation, and I promise to be a man of my word, but I really want to kiss you right now.”
He leaned in to give me the longest, most tender kiss I had experienced in a long time. I felt myself come alive in his hands. When the kiss ended, we sat there, forehead to forehead, just enjoying being with one another.
True to his word, he climbed out of the pool, dried off and then helped me out. I hated to leave our personal little hot tub under the stars! He wrapped me in a towel and hugged me tight, kissing me on the forehead again.
It had grown very late and I needed to get home. I looked forward to our next date. There was so much to share and find out! I wanted to know everything! He walked me out to my car. We stood there in the moonlight, not wanting to part, but knowing it was the right move for now. He gently kissed me again, once on the lips and again on the forehead.
“Be careful going home and call me as soon as you get there. I want you safe. I just found you, you know,” he said.
I was learning that there was much more to this man than I had ever expected and I found that he was a puzzle that I was longing to figure out, no matter how long it took. I did know one thing for certain at that very moment: he was a missing piece of my puzzle and, no matter how things turned out, I’d been looking for him for a very long time.
“Make sure you bring your swimming suit!” he exclaimed before we hung up.