Authors note: I’m realizing that I never wrapped up the A-Z Challenge I started in April. Since I want to finish what I start – even if it takes longer than anticipated – we’ll get it knocked out.
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If I’m faced with a coin flip option, I am always going to pick heads.
With very little exaggeration, I can say that almost every good thing in my adult life can be traced back to a single flip of a coin. God only knows where I would be today, what I would be doing, and who I would be doing it with if I had said “tails”.
And it all started with a very lucky dime.
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For much of this story to make sense, we need to set the stage. The year is 2002. My buddy Tony is marrying the love of his life, and I’m serving as his best man. The wedding is in a small town, about three hours away.
I’m technically single, but I spend more time hanging out with my ex than the people on How I Met Your Mother. I know there is zero future there, so I’m hoping to meet somebody new. Unfortunately, I’m quickly realizing that I probably won’t meet anybody at this wedding – for whatever reason, there are not a lot of single ladies at this event.
One of the other groomsmen (Chad) in the wedding party is also single, and we’ve joked that we’re going to have to fight over any eligible bachelorettes.
Early on in the reception, the battle commences. Chad and I are introduced to Michelle by a mutual acquaintance. Jokingly, it is pointed out that Chad and I represent all of the eligible males at the wedding, and Michelle is one of a few single females. Somehow, it is decided that in order to settle it like gentlemen, there should be a coin toss to see who has the “right” to pursue Michelle that evening.*
*Trust me, this conversation was much more innocent, and not nearly as sexist as I’m making it sound.
One problem: nobody has a quarter that we can flip. Finally, we track down somebody* who has a dime and commandeer it for the official flip for Michelle’s hand.
As the coin was flicked in the air, I called – you guessed it – heads. The reveal showed Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s handsome face. I had won.
*The identity of the dime’s original owner has been long forgotten, but whomever it is, I owe you ten cents. After I won, I held onto your dime.
If this were Hollywood, this would be the part where the time lapse montage begins, possibly accompanied by “Meant to Be” by The Nadas, showing how we bonded and fell deeply in love that first night.
But O’Neill, Nebraska is a long way from Hollywood.
Over the course of the evening, I did my best to talk to Michelle, get to know her, and be as cute and charming as I could possibly muster. This was made difficult by my best man duties (toasts, dances, doing the YMCA with the other groomsmen, and leaving to pull a prank in the honeymoon suite) as well as the fact that I really suck at flirting.
Towards the end of the night, she’s getting ready to make the drive back to Lincoln. I ask for her phone number, and she tells me “I’m in the book”.*
A fairy tale ending, no? I told you O’Neill, Nebraska is a long way from Hollywood.
*If you think that is a lukewarm reaction, you should know that when her roommate asked if she met anybody at the wedding, my future wife replied with “nobody I’m going to marry”.
She likes to remind me of this when I’m being difficult.
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The following week, I was going out of town on a business trip. As I was packing Sunday night, I looked up her phone number in the phone book, and tossed it into my suitcase. After an appropriate number of days, I called her. We talked for a long time and I was able to secure an actual date.
I have often said that I have zero idea how somebody like her fell for somebody like me, but against all odds, I pulled it off. Don’t believe me? Here are some “highlights” from our dating life:
- Our first date was to a “Cajun Festival” that was woefully short on food, but long on loud music that made it tough to talk. I struggled to hear half of what she was saying. I did a lot of smiling and nodding.
- When I tried to kiss her goodnight, I ended up kissing the area between her upper lip and her nostrils (I thought she was taller).
- One of our first dates involved eating Long John Silvers. In my car. In the parking lot of Super K.*
- The first time I professed my love for her, I was on a business trip in DeKalb, Illinois. I called her from a payphone, drunk, somewhere around midnight. I left a message on her work voice mail. In my defense, I had tried to call her house, but her sister – also in a lack of sobriety – kept answering and telling me to “never to call again”. I may or may not have thrown up at some point in the next hour.
- And so many more….
*How I remained single into my late twenties is really anybody’s guess. I was such a remarkable catch.
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Michelle and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary in April. Our first ten years were a whirlwind of laughter, tears, fun adventures and quiet nights at home. We have endured the loss of family members, jobs, and our fertility, and have been blessed with three amazing children and a commitment that is stronger than ever*.
*Mainly because neither one of us wants to be a single parent of three. (Just joking, kids)
Obviously, it hasn’t always been sunshine and rainbows. We’ve had to learn a lot to get to this point, and I know that I still have lots to learn, and much to improve upon as a husband.
But I’m pretty damn proud that our first ten years went by in the blink of an eye. It bodes well for the next ten, and the ten after that, and so on.
Which is a damn good return on a ten cent investment.
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(Author’s note II: Wondering why there is a random letter in parentheses in the title of this post? Not sure how this post corresponds to the daily letter in the April A to Z Challenge? Like clicking on links? These questions are all answered here.)