Friday, April 25, 2014

To my boys: How I Met Your Mother

*Editor’s Note: I wrote story for my sons while I had four straight free hours with no internet during my son’s swim meet.  I’ve been meaning to write this story for years for my kids to read someday, but never got around to it. I thought it fitting that I finally write it right after the final episode of “How I Met Your Mother” aired.  Although I wrote it for my sons, I am posting it here for the world to read if the world is VERY bored.  Hope the world enjoys.


For as long as I can remember, I knew your mom.  I should say, for as long as I can remember, I knew of your mother.  She moved about three blocks away from my house when she was in third grade.  Her family moving in was not a momentous occasion for me as she was a year younger than I and she was in the neighboring ward.

Although we grew up around the block from each, it would be years before we would say our first words to each other. That’s not to say I didn’t know who she was.  I would see her occasionally at the ward house or at youth functions or at school.  When I would see her, I would quickly admire her looks but then quickly forget her.

At this point of the story, I think it is important to point out that while I may have been a decent looking lad, as a teenager, I was painfully awkward and shy in my dealings with girls.  I covered this awkwardness the best I could by acting the fool, using my humor as a disguise for my fear.  As you might guess, girls didn’t exactly fall for the goofy idiot boy.

While some girls found my routine to be humorous and silly, they weren’t exactly banging down my door to go on dates with me.  As a result, I didn’t go on my first date until I was nearly seventeen and I did not kiss a girl until I was seventeen and a half.  Even those two milestones were filled with awkwardness and embarrassment for me, but those are stories for another day.

At the age of 18, I was just starting to gain my footing and confidence with the ladies. I had started dating a rather cute girl I really liked that I had sat next to in seminary.  Unfortunately, on what was likely our fifth date, I told her 12-year-old sister a dirty joke and she stopped returning my phone calls.  Chalk that one up to idiotic stupidity.

When I hit the age of eighteen and a half, I still hadn’t had a meaningful conversation with your mom and I started thinking seriously about a serving a Mormon mission. Things were cruising along fine (besides my lack of success getting dates and with girls in general) and then all heck broke loose. (The word “heck” used here instead of “hell” as I felt it was appropriate when used in the same paragraph as talking about my mission.)

Oh, I need to backtrack a little bit here.  There is one important ironic event that happened when I was seventeen. I had been asked to a girl’s choice dance by what I considered to be, at the time, a girl of lesser value. I won’t go into it much more than I considered her to be “nerdy” and this was saying something because I was about as nerdy as they come.  (Hey, I never said I was a kindhearted teenager.)

Anyway, she asked me to a dance and I was too chicken to say no and I don’t believe my kindhearted mom would have let me say no.  I went, hesitantly, making up some story about how my parents insisted I was home by 11:30.

I remember being picked up by a group of people, most of which I barely knew.  This girl informed me we had one more person to pick up and much to my surprise, soon we were back in my neighborhood, in Cathi’s driveway. 

I don’t remember thinking much of Cathi before, but when I saw her come out of her house, dressed in a pant-suit dress (yes, it was a thing and it was hot on her), I was taken aback.  She was one of the most dazzling girls I had ever seen and I remember wishing that I was the one that had been asked by her.

She probably doesn’t remember much about me that night, but she was the highlight of my night. I remember every moment, every chance I had, I was glancing her way and taking in her glow.  I was mesmerized with her smile and those large dimples; her enormous brown eyes made my hands sweat.  Kids, we have pictures of Cathi and I together in this dance group.  Someday, I’ll show you the photo and you may notice my eyes wandering to your mom.

So the dance that evening may have planted the seed, but it really all started one night at the Little Caesars.  My friend and I were picking up a pizza or two one Friday night.  Our plans included sitting around and wallowing in our lady-less misery, just as we had done Friday nights before for as long as we could remember.

As we waited for our pizza to brought to the counter, I turned to see your mother and your grandmother enter the door.  You may have seen movies or read books (more likely seen movies as I know how much you boys love to read) about time standing still in a moment and I’m telling you boys, both time and my heart stopped at that exact second.  She was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen.

As my daze wore off, I noticed her smiling and waving and I don’t know what came over me, but I immediately walked over to her.  I started talking, mostly gibberish, but talking nonetheless, about who knows what and what knows who.  I believe I squeaked out a couple sentences about crappy pizza being perfect for a Friday night.  She giggled and left with her mom and I stood silent and stunned in the middle of the Little Caesars floor.

I recall turning to my friend as she left and saying, “Wow, she is so amazing.”  He replied with something like, “Yeah, she has gotten really cute lately.”  I replied by staring out the pizza joint window at her as she got in her car.

At this point, I was absolutely taken with Cathi McPheeters.  I thought about her at least once an hour.  A couple days later, I was playing basketball with some older men in my church gym.  As we finished up a game, I noticed my newfound crush enter the gym doors, dressed in a flowing dress and looking quite incredible. 

The same sense of tingling and fluttering came over me, just as it had at the Little Caesars.  Again, without thinking (I have to say, for me to approach and talk to a girl was very rare at this point in my life.) I jolted towards her and again, I flustered out a bunch of awkward nonsense and goofiness that even the great Chris Farley would be proud of.  Yet, in spite of my clumsy word slinging, I noticed that she laughed at me.  She always laughed at me.  I saw this as a sparkle of hope.

As I returned to the game, I walked over to my Bishop, who had been playing with us.  I told him, (and he will vouch for this) “See that girl over there?”  “Yeah, sure”, he replied.  “I am going to marry that girl someday.”  He laughed a big, hearty laugh and said these four words that will forever engraved on my brain, “Yeah, you wish, Abe.”

Well, another couple weeks passed and I still had not gotten up the courage to actually call your mom.  However, the good news was that her best friend had started dating my good friend and this would provide ample opportunity for much needed face-to-face time.

Also, at this time, I started to finally find my courage.  I decided to call my former gal pal (Remember: “Dirty joke to little sister girl”) and give it one more try.  Shockingly, she decided to give me one more chance and said yes. (I never did find out the exact reason she stopped dating me.  I simply assume it was because I told her little sister a dirty joke. But I think that’s a pretty safe assumption, don’t you?)  I made the date for Friday night, December 23.

The day after I made that date, I went to my dentist for a checkup.  A young, new girl cleaned my teeth. She was bubbly and attractive and she clearly, shockingly again, was flirting with me.  Clearly, there was something about the way my gums didn’t bleed when she flossed them that made her attracted to me.  I left the office, got home, called the dentists office and with my newfound courage, asked her if she’d do a follow-up appointment on Monday, December 26. 

I had two dates with two different girls lined up in four days.  Not only had I beaten my personal record of one date lined up in months, but also I had crushed it.  I was feeling as confident as I ever had.

Now, I know what you are thinking: What about mom? Did you just forget about her?  Well, the answer is yes and no.  I never once stopped thinking about her, but I was realistic.  Your mom was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen in person.  I knew my chances at actually landing her were about .2% and that was only because she would actually laugh at my lame jokes. Besides, I wasn’t really looking for a girlfriend, I was “preparing” for a mission. (Preparing in quotes because HA! I wasn’t really doing much preparing at the time.)

With my date on Friday, December 23rd fast approaching, I began spending more time with my friend that had started dating your mom’s best friend. Tuesday evening we all went to my friends’ hockey game together.  Your mom and I sat in the backseat together.  We immediately hit it off and ended up talking and laughing the entire night. 

After the game, Cathi and her girlfriends came to my house and hung out for a couple hours.  This was a new experience for me, having a large group of girls just hanging around my house.  I believe my mom was a little flabbergasted at even the thought.  But I couldn’t have cared less about the other girls there.  Your mom was by far the cutest and the only one I had any interest in.

That night I asked your mom if she would be going to the East High School “Battle of the Bands” the next night.  She said she wasn’t planning on it, but she would go with my friends and I. So there we had it, a real date.  Well, kinda a real date.  There we had it, a place that we would be together at the same time again.

The Battle of the Bands was ferocious and raging, but I didn’t listen to a single song.  Your mom and I spent most of the evening talking and being as close as we could to each other.  When we dropped her off, we were with a carload of my friends.  I didn’t want to make a big scene and have my friends whistling and whooping from the car as I walked her to the door, so I made up some stupid lie about having to go to the bathroom and not being able to get out of the car.

Your mom still teases me about that fake bathroom lie, but I don’t care.  Beyond all the belief I could muster, she clearly liked me and I was going to ask her out on an ACTUAL DATE.  In the back of my mind, I had a lingering doubt that a girl as smoking hot as Cathi would never have any sort of romantic interest in me. I called her up and made a date for Friday, December 23rd and she said yes.  Clearly, she was just messing with me.

As I got off the phone with your mom, I immediately called the former girl I dated and broke off the date. I then called the dentist girl and broke off that date as well.  I was going ALL IN, putting all my eggs in this one, super hot egg basket.

Friday, December 23rd quickly came and I picked up your mom at her house. I had an entire evening planned, but was also just going to go with the flow, or whatever, I had no clue what I was doing.  Needless to say, I was also nervous.

We went downtown to see the movie “Mixed Nuts” staring my favorite comedian, Steve Martin.  The movie sucked the worst amount of suck that a movie can suck, but as we left, she held my hand.  She held my hand.  No girl had ever held my hand before.  Certainly not a girl that could easily be a model.

We walked around temple square, with its lighted Christmas d├ęcor and its festive feel.  We held hands the entire time.  I learned for the first time that I get very sweaty hands when I am holding the hand of a pretty girl.  If you inherit this trait from me boys, I am very sorry.

We finished the night at our family’s favorite restaurant, Crown Burger.  We sat across from each other.  It was awesome.

Finally, I drove her home to drop her off.  She invited me in (this does NOT mean the same thing in Mormon town, Utah) and we sat on the couch and watched “Saturday Night Live” with her 11-year-old brother.  We sat close and she was actually touching me.

Now, for you non-geek, ladies men in high school out there, maybe a super pretty girl touching you is not that big a deal.  But for me, this was like hitting the geekdom jackpot!  My heart raced like it never had before. It was all that I could do to not jump up and start dancing and singing a Salt N’ Peppa song.

While we watched Norm McDonald deliver the fake news, I gained just enough courage to lean over to your mom and whisper, “I am just waiting for your brother to fall asleep so I can kiss you.”  At the time, I thought it sounded very dapper, but looking back, I realize this was perhaps the dorkiest thing I could have said at the time.

With her brother asleep, I was ready to make my move. I leaned in for the kill and it actually happened.  A gorgeous, popular, insanely hot girl actually kissed a no name goofball like me. It was like something out of crazy comedy where a gorgeous, popular, insanely hot girl actually kissed a no name goofball like me.

We kissed for what seemed like an eternity, but it was probably only for two minutes.  It would be the second and last girl I would ever kiss.  (Much to my embarrassment at the time, but something I am kind of proud of now.)

Your mom and I continued to spend more and more time together.  She was a senior in high school and I was in my first year at the University of Utah.  We were inseparable for six months.  There was no doubt we had fallen in love. She asked me to her high school dance and I proudly went.  It was the best dance I ever went to.  She did not go to her prom.  We were together and everyone knew it.

Now kids, you may recall that I mentioned that Mormon mission earlier in this tale.  Well, it still weighed heavy on me.  I felt it was something that I absolutely had to do.  However, suddenly the choice had become much more difficult. I was head over Sketchers in love.  Leaving Cathi was not really something that appealed to me.

After a lot of thought, prayer and contemplation and with the support of your mom, I decided to leave for two years.  Now, you may or may not be aware of this, but when a boy leaves a girlfriend home while he goes on a mission, the odds are not exactly in favor of her waiting around for him.  I read it was estimated that 95% of girls don’t wait around and of those 5% that do wait, only half of them end up getting married. As hard as it was to hear this and given her extreme beauty, I knew that your mom most likely wouldn’t be around for me if I left.

Alas, your mother proved faithful. Of course, she dated and dated often while I was gone.  In fact, I am fairly sure she had one or two “serious” boyfriends, although she may not admit to it.  However, she wrote at least every week and never once questioned our loyalty to each other.

After two years and a whole lot of missing of your mom, she was there as I got off the airplane.  We hugged like I had never left.  The very night I got home, I kissed her.  It was like falling in love all over again.  One year later, we were married.

I must admit, coming home and hearing about the boys she dated (from others, mostly) was very difficult for me.  By nature, I am a very jealous person and hearing second hand about men that pursued her for two years was taxing on me. I mean, given her striking looks and her cheerful personality, I knew she would be highly courted. I’m positive she grew tiresome of hearing me whine, complain and worry about them after I got home.  But I’m grateful she stuck with me.

She may not know this, but to this day, I have issues with jealousy.  I think about those two years we spent apart and I have a hard time coming to terms with what may or may not have happened while I was gone.  That being said, I have become much more able to manage my jealousy and, more importantly, I am able to hide it from her which makes our marriage ever so happy.

So, there you have it, boys. That is how I met your lovely mother.  She may have a different perspective on it, but you will have to wait for the sequel, “How I Met Your Father”, which likely will never be written.