Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Sweetest Day memory

For those of you not from NE Ohio, Sweetest Day is the third Saturday in October. The holiday was invented early in the 20th Century in Cleveland, Ohio. It was sponsored by the top ten candy makers of the time, and yes, was a holiday meant to sell cards and sweets. While I usually don't participate or even remember the date, one time I did and the date that accompanied it remains to this day one of my best memories.

The date was October 21st, 1995: Sweetest Day. Two weeks previous I had asked Ell out and seven days later we enjoyed our first date. I charmed her into going out on a second date which just happened to fall on Sweetest Day. I didn't know the protocol for gifts so early in a dating relationship, but I was certain if I purchased one I could show off my thoughtfulness. While the local florist was wrapping up a nice flower bouquet, I perused the card section and found an ideal card. On the front was an eccentric looking couple in some pretty crazy clothes. The inside of the card read something like, "As crazy looking as we are, we must be meant for each other." Not sure if I have the wording right, but you get the idea.

I had planned a pretty amazing itinerary for the evening. I'd made reservations at a nice restaurant which I planned to follow up by taking Ell to an animated Christmas display. Both were in Pennsylvania, about an hour away from her house. We had talked earlier in the week and I had told her to wear nice evening attire because the restaurant was very swank.

Ell met me at the door of her parent's house where I presented her with the flowers. She thanked me and invited me in to meet the folks while she put the flowers in water. After a few awkward exchanges we headed into the local town where I filled up my beater car with gasoline. As I drove down the two lane road towards the highway, a horribly strong scent of gas almost overwhelmed us. I felt like a fool because I was certain I'd spilled gas on my dress pants. That thought quickly gave way to a new horror as in my rear-view mirror I saw my Thunderbird leaving a wide swath of gasoline all over the road as I drove.

I quickly pulled into a fast food restaurant and jumped out to inspect the car. The fill tube that connects the gas tank to the outside of the car was rusted through and floating freely inside the fender. I turned to look at this fine redhead, certain she was going to end the date right there in fear for her life. (Or disgust at the poor guy with the crappy car; yeah, that was my fear.) She laughed as I apologized and assured me we didn't need to go through with the nicely planned date. I checked and double-checked to see if she was making fun of me, and upon seeing her sincerity, asked her if she minded a date a little more impromptu and closer to home. She agreed.

We jumped back in the fire hazard I called my car and started driving. I knew long distances were out of the question in case the leaking tank got worse, so we drove to a local restaurant for dinner. We ate at a place that later in our relationship would become our favorite restaurant. I then took her to a local coffee shop I used to frequent with my friends when I was young and single. Much to my dismay, the place had changed dramatically from a hip singles hangout to a high-class establishment. Ell taught me the glorious game of backgammon as we laughed at the irony of our fancy duds and how our clothes fit the place but our personalities did not.

After that we headed to the new Barnes & Noble bookstore where we discovered our mutual love for all things literary. We closed the place down -- we were literally the last to leave -- and headed towards Ell's home. As we got into town we noticed the white-trash bowling alley was still open so we went in for a couple rounds. It must have been a funny site to see two hippies in nice dress clothes bowling. I know we were laughing.

As we walked to the car I realized in all the craziness of the evening I'd forgot the Sweetest Day card I'd bought Ell. I reached in the back seat and handed her the pink envelope. When I picked her up earlier in the evening I hadn't noticed it, but she had bought a card for me too. As we sat on the hood of the car and opened the cards together, we laughed that both envelopes were pink and neither one of us liked that color. But that laughter was nothing compared to the laughter that erupted when we realized we'd bought each other the exact same card. Yes, of all the hundreds and hundreds of Sweetest Day cards in all the stores, we'd picked the exact card for each other.

In that moment, I realized this was the kind of girl I'd been waiting for my whole life. I'd always bragged to my friends that I had three criteria for a wife. 1) a redhead (shallow, I know) 2) someone I didn't know before dating 3) someone who liked to have fun. This girl sitting on the hood of my junky car fit all three. And to top it off she had the same sense of humor I had. I knew right then I would marry her. Two years later I did and in September we celebrated our 11th anniversary.

Happy early Sweetest Day to my best friend. You still make me happy, you still make me laugh, and you are still the perfect person God could have ever given me. I love you.

8 Comments:

Blogger Adrienne said...

Aww. Very Cool.

God must have taken pity on you or looked very highly upon you. Those are fairly high demands considering only about 5% of the population are readheads and girls tend to be less than appreciative of a sense of humor in many cases! :)

5:31 PM  
Blogger Jeff and Melissa Blair said...

What a beautiful, sweet and funny story! Thanks for sharing!

5:35 PM  
Blogger Sugarmag said...

Great story!

8:19 PM  
Blogger Birdie said...

What a great story. It reminded me so much of my first "official" date with Ken 22 years ago. He came to pick me up in his '74 orange mustang. I was pleasantly surprised that he was on time, because I always was on time and it seemed everyone else was always late. His car was immaculate and that was wonderful. I later found out, after we got married, that earlier that day He had hosed his car out to make it clean. That's right....with a hose! I don't think he's had a clean car since, or ever, EVER been on time. And we have ALWAYS owned clunkers. It is the story of our lives. I loved your story. Thanks, Sam!

9:43 PM  
Blogger Kyle said...

Awesome.

1:25 AM  
Blogger Faye Pekas said...

A great story. It made me laugh and also brought tears to my eyes. A perfect first date! A million years ago when I was dating, I usually found that the guys with the clunker cars had the best personalities and were more fun to be with.

1:34 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

You couldn't be a more perfect couple! Great story.

I just have to share quickly my story. My hubby never knew about Sweetest Day. So when he did, it was without much notice. So he did the best he really knew how with very little funds. I was picked up for church home group meeting with a handful of carnations wrapped in a paper towel. My husband had taken flowers from so poor, deceased persons grave and brought them to me. Now mind the flowers were being thrown away at that point, but STILL. I laugh to this day over that one!

3:46 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Sam, I never got to thank you for the amazing post about our first sweetest day. It really was one of the "sweetest" days that I every had with you! I will always remember it! I love you so much babe! -Laura

1:30 PM  

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