Tuesday, September 18, 2018

One Date, Two Dates. Our date? Their date?


When I was in high school I always lied to my mom about the time my after school activities ended. Not because I was behind the gym listening to pre-Michelle Destiny’s Child and kissing guys who wore blindingly white Air Force Ones, I wasn’t that cool. I lied because then I’d only have to wait for her 10 minutes instead of 30. My mom was always late picking me up.

And dropping me off

I remember getting the itinerary for our senior class trip to Disney World and the meeting time was 7 in the morning. I told her we had to be there at 6:30 and I still missed the senior class picture in front of the charter buses.

In my adult life, where I only need others to drive me around because I’m too drunk to do it myself, I’m still barely on time. I guess tardiness is a hereditary trait my mother passed on to me, like our mutual love of chicken egg foo young.  

Although I’m perpetually late, one of the few instances in my life when I was on time led to me going on one of the best dates I’ve ever had.

I was working at a convention for a popular software manufacturer and on the last day of the convention, everything seamlessly fell into place.

I woke up before my alarm clock went off and had time to eat breakfast. There was no traffic on Lakeshore Drive and I found free street parking that was a close walk to McCormick Place. This may all sound like a normal day to you, but for me, getting places in a timely fashion is rarely an easy fete. I swear whenever I have an appointment an El train would derail, a car would burst into flames on the highway or I would get to the bus stop only to realize I didn’t have my wallet.

Or my phone.

Because it was in my other purse.

With my house keys.

And now I'm locked out.

But today, I was on time. I arrive at our booth 40 minutes early and start helping my coworkers, Monica and Stephanie set up game consoles when a guy approaches us.

Sorry sir. We’re not open yet.”

Sir?” he scrunches up his face deepening the faint crows feet around his eyes. “I’m a keynote speaker, not an attendee. Just curious about what you’re showing.”

I notice he has an accent, but couldn’t quite place it.

While connecting an audio jack into the back of a TV Monica answers him. “We have some of the unreleased Xbox titles and we let people play them. ”

I love games. I don’t often play Xbox, but I love both computer and board games.”

I love board games too I thought to myself. My interested was piqued.

What’s your nationality?”

I’m Australian. From Melbourne.”

He pronounced it “Mel-Bin”

Australian? What an interesting name.”

Chuckling the Australian says, “My name is Steve.”

He said it exactly like Steve Irwin the late Crocodile Hunter would have.

Monica, Stephanie, Steve and I sat on the couches at our booth and chatted about random things for the next few minutes. Steve was positively charismatic. Eventually I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket. It was a text message from Stephanie.

It read: Stop flirting and come to work!!! ;) Our shift is about to start!

I looked up from my phone. I hadn’t even noticed that Stephanie and Monica were no longer sitting next to us. Steve and I exchanged Twitter handles and said our goodbyes.

On my lunch break, I direct tweeted him and we agreed to meet up at a booth that had 16 bit games. We played the original Donkey Kong and walked around the convention collecting emoji pins from different booths and attaching them to the lanyards that held our official Microsoft badges.

My emoji pins
Back at my booth, we played FIFA for a bit and then Steve asked, “Are you going to the Microsoft after party tonight?

As soon as Stephanie noticed Steve she peeked out from behind a flat screen TV and mouthed,“Your babies will be so cute!”

Stephanie popping out
Trying not to laugh at Stephanie I answered “I’m not sure. No one gave us a formal invite.”

Well I'm sure they won’t turn you away. How could they?”

So I went home, changed into a cute black dress as quick as I could and drove back to McCormick Place in record time.

Actual footage of me rushing to get back to the party
Microsoft pulled out all the stops.

They transformed the East wing of McCormick Place to look like downtown Chicago. There were food trucks lined up inside the convention center and multiple interactive games for guests to play.  
As the sun sparkled over Lake Michigan and started to set behind the Chicago skyline, Steve and I went outside on the balcony to enjoy the view. We sat on a bench and played two truths and a lie.

Ok guess which one is the lie,” I said enthusiastically.
  1. I’ve never been married, but I’ve been on a honeymoon. 
  2. A man crossed a desert barefoot to prove his love to me. 
  3. I think the best part of a Chick-Fil-A sandwich is the way the pickle juice penetrates the bread, the chicken and your soul.
All the talk about food made me hungry, so Steve went to get us some food truck snacks. My phone started to vibrate in my dress with pockets. Monica was calling.

Are you here? Isn’t this set up is amazing?”

Yea I’m with Steve on the Balcony.”

I’ll leave you two alone then. Have fun! Tell me about it later!”

Microsoft had built large sculptures that mimicked the landmarks around Chicago. Steve hadn’t had a chance to explore because he was working, so I acted as his personal tour guide. I explained the significance of the landmarks and we took pictures at each one like tourists.

My Friends and I at the Microsoft after party


Fall Out Boy performed that night too. I don’t have any of their albums, but I knew a some of their songs from playing Rock Band with my brother and younger cousins. When the lights went down and the smoke began to creep across the stage, Steve placed his hand on the small of my back and led me to the dance floor. I’m almost certain that the moment he touched me, I felt my left ovary release an egg into my fallopian tube.

Hey TK!”

Making his way through the crowd was one of the guests I had played Gran Tourismo with at my booth earlier.

Oh hi. Henrik right?”

I was once told there is a correct way to introduce people. You’re supposed to say this is so and so, and then mention an interesting fact about them. This way, the people meeting each other will have something to start a conversation about. 

Henrik, this is Steve. He’s a Keynote speaker from Microsoft and he used to play Aussie rules football.” I turn to Steve. “This is Henrik, he’s here from Sweden and was just leaving.”

I smiled and said it nicely guys, I swear!

But Henrik would not leave my side. I was sandwiched between the two like a reverse Oreo.

While listening to Fall Out Boy scream sing, This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race, I telepathically tried to get Henrik to scram. My grandma always told me I was a magical creature but apparently my telepathic super powers had not come in yet.

Now I don’t remember much from high school, as it was a long time ago but I remember a few things. Like the time my friends and I played laser tag and I pistol whipped our friend Jaime. She was supposed to get stitches, but we didn't take her to the hospital. I remember we learned that World War I was started because Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated and I was pretty certain that Australia and Sweden were neutral countries. And yet here I was, at the helm of the Microsoft Convention Cock Block of the century.

Nothing happened between Steve and I that night. I offered to give him a ride to his hotel and during the ride we sang Chop Suey, another Rock Band favorite of mine, at the top of our lungs. He hugged me from the passenger seat and then I dropped him off at his boutique hotel on Michigan Avenue.

When I got home I direct tweeted Steve.

Had fun. Thanks for tonight.”

He tweeted back, “We didn’t take a picture together, probably should have.”

No worries, I won’t forget tonight.”

Steve and I kept in touch through email for weeks after that. Stephanie thought it would be a cute story to tell our grandkids one day. That we fell in the love the day we met, spent the entire day together and kept in touch through letters, like Marilyn Monroe and John F. Kennedy.

Ever thine, 
Ever mine, 
Ever ours. 

Signed, Microsoft guy

Honestly I’m not sure if we went on a date because Steve didn’t ask me to the party, He asked me if I was going. He also didn’t kiss me at the end of the night, although he seemed like he wanted to. He did bring me food truck ice cream and touched my back though… So clearly he wanted to marry me, no? Isn’t that what the lower back graze means? I was so confused.


The emails became less frequent and eventually stopped. I didn’t forget about Steve, but life goes on. Soon after, I had an epic cross country work trip with hot coworker (craaaaazzzzyyyyy story y’all) and I was focused on that for a bit. But about a year later, I happened to be in Seattle, home of Microsoft, and I reached out to Steve. He was excited to hear from me and wanted to meet up.

How about we go to a Lego contest? We can see what others have built and maybe even build our own Lego structure. Then we can go get dinner and drinks and afterward we can meet my friends for game night.”

I was still confused about our Microsoft outing, but I wasn’t at all perplexed about this meet up. Look, I don’t have a PhD (Player Haters Degree) but this sounded like a date to me.

When I arrived at our meet up spot, I saw Steve crossing the street. He was just as cute as I remembered from a year ago. As soon as he saw me he gave me one of those genuinely happy smiles that shows all your teeth and engulfed me in a warm hug. 

Sorry I’m late. I'm not sure how much of the Lego contest we’ll get to see after my friend gets here.”


When who gets where now?”

Here silly. I was at a church thing and my friend heard what we were doing and wanted to come along.”


I think this was the Universe’s way of paying me back for going on Mary’s date in Mexico City. Karma is real y’all.

Hey Steve!” A tall Asian guy jogs toward us with a smile on his face. He was dressed nicely, like he was going on a date.

This is my friend Johnson.”


He didn’t even introduce us the right way. If I was able to read minds I could have at least been able to tell if Steve was trying to tell Johnson to scram. My magical powers had failed me again. This time I was sandwiched between the two like a Mexican Polvoron shortbread cookie.

Brown, Yellow & Pink
Polvorones 
We miss the Lego contest, so instead we walk around downtown Seattle before heading to dinner. The guys sit down and I excuse myself to the bathroom and call my guy friend Rafael.

"Rafi, I am so annoyed. I wore heels tonight! Ok not heels, I wore wedges, but close enough!"

"What's going on?"


This guy brought an entire dude on our date!"

For the record, I think it’s kinda funny when people use a measurement to describe something that you can only have a whole portion of. It’s not like Steve could have brought 3 quarters of a dude on our date.

Sorry to hear that babe. Just have a good time and eat well. Order something expensive. Tell me how it goes.”

When I got back to the table, there was a really pretty woman sitting next to Johnson.


What is going on? Is this a date after all? Or is this their date? Are we on a double date?


The conversation flowed easily that evening and to be honest, we had a really good time. Johnson and Anne were friendly and funny. The four of us played a board game, ate amazing food and Steve paid for everything. It would have been a great time even if he hadn’t paid for everything, but you know, cherries on top of the double date sundae.

At the end of the night, Johnson drove us to the parking deck where my rental car was parked. Steve asked Johnson to stay behind so that he could walk me to my car. We got to my car and awkwardly stood in front of each other. The parking deck was empty and you could hear cars whizzing by on the street.

Would you like to come with me to church tomorrow?”

Umm…

My friend Tasha is flying in from Chicago tomorrow morning and I have to pick her up from the airport.”

Well we’re having brunch after Church. You’re both invited to that too. Who knows, maybe you’ll meet a cute guy there.


And that was that.

Actually no, that wasn't the end of my relationship with Steve. We continued to text each other for a few more months. In my defense, I was over my feelings for him, but I can't lie, he was a good conversationalist. Aquarians usually are.

After many late night phone conversations, I realized Steve wasn't the one for me. But he beat me to the punch.

Steve told me he didn’t think God had called him to be my husband. He literally said that. In this instance, He is interchangeable with God and Steve.

I've heard of people saying, "It's not you. It's me, but I have never heard someone say, "It's not you, its GOD. The Lord doesn't want us to be together."

What in the nondenominational hell? Who says that to someone? I mean honesty is the best policy, but damn. Does Christian Mingle advise people to say this?


So after that, it really was the end. Maybe my magical power isn't telepathy. Maybe its dodging relationship bullets.

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