Here's the IM I received from Husband this morning: "Why don't you blog about the first time I saw that ass in dem jeans?" This was IM'ed to me out of the blue, after a series of What Do The Kids Need To Do Tonight texts and other parenting strategies that we do so well via IM. He's talking about our first date which was at John's on 12th street in the East Village nine years ago. And it's a great story that I gladly tell, but it has so much set up. It took awhile for us to get to that first date at John's.
We met at car show in Anaheim. Which is odd. A girl I knew had started a cigar whoring business where she sent out cigar girls to high-end restaurants/bars and charged a five thousand percent mark up because the girls showed a lot of flesh. This worked extremely well in Orange County. She was booked to sell cigars at a car and bike show, but because the show began early and ran all day, she had a hard time finding enough girls to work the show. She asked me to fill in. I was raising Maya alone, who was only a year old at the time, and I welcomed the chance to make a couple hundred bucks for a day's work. Cigar Boss Pimp Lady told me to wear something skimpy which made me queasy especially when I went to my coffee spot before the show at 8am where the locals wondered, Is she just getting in or just going out? Turns out I was the most dressed girl at the car show. You can't compete in a Skimpy Contest when the beer booth is set up next to you. The ol' biker dudes where hilarious and great. They'd saunter up to the cigar booth and say in voices so gravelly it sounded like they dragged them in on their bikes behind them, "Nice legs, honey." "Thanks," I'd say. "Where's the Bud booth?" I'd point and smile. They'd add as they walked away, "$20 for a fucking cigar?" I'd pantomime sympathy before the CigarBossPimpLady could catch me.
Mingling in the sea of leather -- skin and duds -- I spotted two preppy latinos in matching denim button-down shirts. One was short and round and the other medium-height and handsome and they wandered around staring in awe at the Biker Culture. It was October of 1996, a day after the Yankees won the world series when Mariano Rivera was an up and coming set up pitcher. When the Prepinos glided their way self consciously to my booth, their strong east-coast accents gave them up. I said, "You guys are in California after such a great Yankee win?" They looked at me. "We're here for business," the short, round one answered because he did all the talking. The handsome one played it cool standing behind him. And as the round one blah blah blah'ed, the handsome one and I tuned him out and wondered what this was, this spontaneous urge to impress each other in subtle ways; he by being quiet and cool. Me, by talking as much as possible to prove I wasn’t just a show bimbo. At the end of the day when I was relieved of my post, I put on my jacket and bravely stood next to the handsome one and we talked and made funny comments about Tommy Lasorda who was at the show on stage, drunk. I made sure to mention Maya within the first five minutes so he could run for the hills, but he didn’t seem to flinch much. Before I left, Handsome gave me his business card. He worked on Wall Street. They had been at the car show to push the stock of one of the representing car companies.
I hardly ever dated. After I had Maya, I didn’t think my feelings for a man could ever live up to the love I felt for her. The company of men was trivial compared to what I felt for her. She and I had true love, and I was convinced it was all I had room for. Maya’s father was a victim of this conviction.
But I called Handsome anyway because I felt something for him and I secretly wished he lived closer so we could give this something a shot. When I called, I genuinely just wanted to thank him. I said, “Thank you for the realest conversation I'd had with a man in a long time.” I had no expectations beyond that. He began calling me regularly. I didn’t know what to think, but I enjoyed his casual conversation. I didn’t think about him romantically until he called me on Thanksgiving, when I was alone and feeling lonely. It turned out, he felt the same, and he thought to call me. The call didn’t carry the same casualness as the others. We didn’t speak much, and in the charged silence, I was deeply touched. After that phone call, our conversations became more meaningful. We even scheduled Friday Date Night where we let all the walls down and we’d whisper our guts to each other; we laid it all on the line. During these few months, on the phone, is when we fell for each other. I hardly remembered what he looked like and because we only had the phone, we were forced to actually listen to each other. Had we been dating live, the urge to explore each other physically might have distracted us from how well we got to know each other emotionally.
I flew to New York in January. And I was scared shitless. I loved him, and I didn’t want us to ruin that in person. In many ways, I wanted to keep the relationship as it was. He picked me up in his Wall Street gear; a dark blue suit, a patterned silk tie, a tan overcoat. I wore a charcoal grey angora sweater, tight jeans and a long black wool overcoat that tied at the waist. I was giddy and nervous, which was unlike me, and he stared at me as if I was better than he had remembered. As we drove to the East Village for our first official date, we got used to speaking to each other face to face. We were shy at first. I couldn’t believe how his eyes were so black or how his lips were perfectly shaped, that his smile was what I remembered most. When we got to John’s I took off my overcoat and when I turned to hang it – and this is the part Husband loves – he says the waiter did a double take on my ass. Husband said he almost high-fived him.
So, that’s it. The three-month build up to our first date. After that first visit, we dated bicoastally for five more months until he quit his job, packed up all his shit and moved to California. We married Valentine’s Day 1998. Maya has never called him anything but Papi.