One of the first official dates with my wife took place at her parents’ house. That night, her extremely nosy parents promised not to eavesdrop, nor bother us, nor hide behind the sofa and wait for us to kiss.
Her parents agreed to let us have the entire downstairs to ourselves. And I was nervous. What would we talk about? What would we do? Would her parents leave us alone, or spy on us?
My story takes place in an era when VHS cassettes still roamed the earth. My date and I decided to rent a VHS movie. Although as it turned out, we were so timid we couldn’t actually decide on a movie.
HER: Which movie do you want?
ME: Oh, anything you want.
HER: I don’t care, I’ll watch anything you wanna watch.
ME: Makes no difference. What do you wanna see?
HER: Whatever you wanna see.
ME: I don’t care.
HER: Neither do I, you choose.
ME: No, you.
HER: It’s up to you.
ME: No, it’s your call.
And so it went. Because all young lovers are afraid to come right out and say something like, “Darling, I do believe I’d prefer to watch something produced by the genius that is Monty Python.”
We had the same hem-hawing conversation about which restaurant to choose for dinner. And in the end, we went hungry because we never settled on a place. We ended up driving in circles for three hours constantly saying, “Where do you wanna eat?” “I don’t care, where do YOU wanna eat?”
Eventually we returned to her parents’ house and spent the rest of the evening trying not to exhibit symptoms of dangerously low blood-sugar.
As it happened, our date night got worse. Because the movie we rented turned out to be the foulest, most inappropriate skin-flick Hollywood ever released. It was so bad we could not watch it.
Five minutes into the film we were assaulted with non-family-friendly scenes that would have given your average preacher a fatal cardiac event.
Looking back, I’m glad the movie stunk because with the movie turned off, we were able to have a real conversation. Which is what we should have been doing all along.
Our discussion was like most conversations youthful couples have.
“So. Do you like kids?” she asked.
“Oh, yes. Love’em.”
“Boys or girls?”
“I’ve always wanted a daughter,” I said.
“Awww. A daughter.”
“Yeah, I always wanted to spoil my daughter and make her into a daddy’s girl.”
She smiled. “You know, if I had a daughter, I’d name her Rose. What about you?”
“I’d name my daughter Benny.”
“Benny? For a girl?”
“Yes. I once knew a girl named Benny, she taught me everything I know about Ford carburetors. Great gal.”
“I’m not naming our daughter Benny.”
Then we talked about Sunday school. Would we let this imaginary daughter go to Sunday school at the Baptist church where most of our current members suffered from life threatening constipation?
Going to our Baptist church Sunday school would mean that poor Benny would be sitting beneath the tutelage of Miss Devons, who waxed her upper lip and wore so much perfume, small creatures dropped dead whenever she passed by.
Miss Devons once told the second grade Sunday school class that Jesus was coming back next Friday. That week there were nine reported bed wettings.
“Don’t be silly,” said my date. “Of course our child will attend Sunday school.”
“With Miss Devons?”
She crossed her arms. “Well, I’d want Benny in Sunday school, I think it’s important.”
“You called her Benny.”
Also, I noticed we had scooted closer.
“You’d make a good dad,” she said.
“No, I’d make a terrible father. I didn’t have a good example growing up. But you’d be a terrific mother.”
“I don’t know.”
We sat in a quiet den and I knew this woman would one day be my Everything. I could just tell. I knew that whenever I looked at her, I was actually staring at the best years of my life.
All of a sudden, we heard a loud crash from behind the sofa.
This was followed by a hoarse whisper that said, “Did he kiss her yet?!”
“Hush, old woman!” said another voice. “I can’t see a dang thing with your big head in my way!”
And anyway, that’s when I met my future in-laws.