My friends repeatedly tell me that my love life is like one big romantic comedy. Each relationship always starts off with some ridiculous meet-cute, but don’t always (well, clearly never) end with the happily-ever-after that we see on screen. With this in mind, I’ve decided to share these meet-cutes with you all, because they’re a big part of my journey to find my very own Mr. Darcy in a world filled with Wickhams.
It’s every girl’s dream to have an adorable story to tell the grandkids about how you and your hubbie met. (I’m sorry, but “we met on Tinder” is just not going to suffice for me.) My own grandparents met on a double date, and my grandpa fell in love with his bestfriend’s girlfriend. Now, that’s a terrible story for the people my grandparents broke up with, but a fantastic story for my grandparents to tell. They’re celebrating their 61st wedding anniversary this year.
I believed myself to have had a similar experience the summer before starting my freshman year of college. But I warn you, this story does not end with 60+ years happily married.
I was up in Minnesota visiting my older brother with one of my girlfriends, Lily. The three of us went to this local Mediterranean restaurant for dinner the first night of our visit. There was a particularly adorable blonde guy working the front counter. Being…well, me, all that happened was a whole lot of eye contact.
We ended up eating there again the next night because 1. the food was delicious and cheap. And 2. the blonde wasn’t the only cute guy working there–my friend had her eye on the tall brunette with an anchor tattoo on his bicep (don’t get me started on that). Once again, more eye contact. No verbal communication. (I mean, I’ve heard the eyes are the windows to the soul, but this was getting a little ridiculous.)
The next morning, Lily and I got up early and headed to the St. Paul’s farmer’s market. What are the odds of seeing the adorable blonde from the restaurant selling goat cheese behind a booth? Slim. Decimal, really.
At the insistent urging of my persuasive (let’s call her what she is: pushy) friend, I gave him my number, explaining that I was moving up to Minnesota in a few weeks for school. He grinned and we said our goodbyes. Now, I’m sure you’re all thinking he texted me and we chatted a bit until one of us inevitably lost interest. Wrong. I never got a call. No text. Not even a Facebook friend request.
A month passes. I move into my dorm. I start classes. Our first weekend, my new roommate (coincidentally, also named Elle) and I headed down to the farmer’s market with a couple of other girls to pick up some fresh veggies.
And who was working, but the adorable blonde. I mean, what are the odds of seeing him again? I figured this was our fated meet-cute that we’d tell years from now on every anniversary. (Can someone go back in time and slap some sense into me? Maybe not, because I’ve heard time travel is dangerous.)
I strode up to his booth, and he immediately…did not recognize me. So I made some lame reference to Nebraska (my home state) because I remembered that I was the only Nebraskan he’d ever met. I should’ve been tipped off about this guy when he asked me where Nebraska was. It’s literally in the middle of the United States. You can’t get any more Midwest than Nebraska.
Once Nebraska was introduced into the conversation, his eyes gleamed with recognition, quickly followed by his embarrassment. His explanation was the typical “I lost your number” excuse. Apparently, a keg had exploded at his work and he’d washed his jeans with my number in the pocket. Of course, I overlooked his excuse, attributing carelessness to its cause, because what were the odds I’d run into him a fourth time?
It was clearly Fate working her magic to bring us together. It started off normal (maybe even better than normal) with cute texts here and there. We discovered we both loved to read and work out–a clear sign of our perfect compatibility.
On our first date, he took me to grab a coffee and then to Como Park before the sun rose. We stood underneath this beautiful patio (I felt like I was in a miniature Pemberley) and gazed out over the misty lake with Starbucks in hand. Like I said, my life is essentially a romantic comedy gone horribly awry.
On our second date, he took me out for sushi. He looked even more adorable than ever, layering a button-down with a sweater and bow tie. (His gay bestfriend dressed him.) As we were driving back to his apartment, he made us stop at Target, and told me he’d be back in a second. He emerged not five minutes later and sprinted (I literally mean, ran) back to the car holding a dozen roses.
I don’t mean to sound greedy or bitchy, because it was a sweet gesture. But it felt like a such an afterthought. I honestly didn’t know how to react. From there we got to his apartment and sat, talking and listening to music.
This is where things started to go south. He began to tell me about his ex, Erin. When he met me at the farmer’s market the second time, he’d been dating her for a month. And apparently, he hadn’t broken up with her until after our first date–though he claimed he didn’t break up with her for me. (Red flag, anyone?) The plots thickens. He and Erin were still Facebook-official.
He attributed this to the fact that they worked at the same restaurant and the manager said if anything was to go wrong between them, one of them would get the boot. So, they were waiting until one of them found another job before telling people officially. I don’t know why I didn’t find this more suspicious.
Thinking the conversation was over (and probably wanting to distract me), he turned on Frank Sinatra and started to serenade me. (Did I forget to mention he had a deliciously good singing voice?) Then he started to slow dance with me. This was where I started to feel uncomfortable.
The slow dancing and the serenading and the late ex-girlfriend, it all felt a little…fast. That’s the sort of stuff you do six months into a relationship, not two dates.
After not a very long period of time–and by “not long,” I mean two weeks–he was already a little too emotionally invested in the relationship. I felt we were moving too fast, so I used the ever-dreaded F-word: friend. I explained to him how I wanted to build a friendship into a relationship–it’d worked out so well for Ross and Rachel.
As soon as I uttered the word “friend”, he immediately shut down. But I thought I ended the evening okay by kissing him goodnight–clearly not a friendzoning move. Still, I never heard from him again. No reply to my texts, either. And when I glanced at his Facebook page a week or two later, he was still Facebook-official with Erin. To this day, I couldn’t tell you if he had ever even broken up with her–something that leaves me worried and racked with guilt, though I’m not the guilty party.
Clearly not every meet-cute ends in happily-ever-after. It’s built up by television and Hollywood so much that we often feel like just meeting in college or through friends isn’t the right story to tell for the rest of our lives. But it’s much more realistic to meet someone through friends-of-friends, like Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth. Had it not been for Mr. Bingley’s occupation of Netherfield, the two lovers may never have met, and then where would we all be?
And though I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth were friends before they got together, they did know each other on the most intimate footing. Elizabeth knew about his sister and Wickham, and Mr. Darcy knew about her sister and Wickham. I’ve always said, and will continue to always say, that relationships work out so much better if you’re friends first.