So one night during the first intermission of the Toronto Maple Leaf hockey game between having my queen taken and my nightly "Spassky Bishop Block" joke, I sputtered what must have been the lamest case for 6th Grade dating of all time. As a 6th Grade teacher himself, my Dad knew all-to-well the train wrecks that are 6th Grade relationships. He wisely told me no in about same amount it time it took for us to have the sex talk a couple of weeks before. In fact the two conversations held striking similarities. Only my mumbled “Big Macs”, “love” and “drive me in the station wagon” were replaced with equally as awkward “vagina”, “penis” and a truly uncomfortable sperm-swimming mime performance. It was a funny era of life. Because both my Dad and I (as guys) knew that I wanted girls. He knew it because he's a guy and knew what my man-brain was thinking about. What it came down to was that I had no idea had to get girls. I just knew that couldn't eat Big Mac's or have sex with them yet, even though that's all I really wanted to do.
Dana Carvey's role in my dateless life kicked in soon after. Long before I was allowed to stay up to watch Saturday Night Live, I would listen to it on the radio as everyone slept, none the wiser. Once I knew that I wouldn't be able to take anyone ballroom dancing at fast food restaurants, I played the only card I figured I had in my hand. Making people laugh. If I could make a 6th Grade girl in a training bra pee her pants... she'd surely mop up and go out with me. Or so I figured using all the circumstantial data I could muster at the time. So l'd listen to Dana Carvey doing impressions of people I'd never heard of before. I'd show up at school doing Johnny Carson bits and full American political satire routines. I barely knew what I was talking about... my audience knew even less...but I was killing out there. Turns out I was good at it! My Dad was a classic comedy and vaudeville fanatic so we'd rent Laurel and Hardy and Buster Keaton films from the library and analyze why they were so funny. I ate up Bob Newhart routines and even created my own characters. The laughs were great, but let's face it, I was doing it for the reason guys do most things. To get girls.
As it turns out, even though every list in every woman's magazine ever published says that what girls are most looking for in a husband is “a sense of humor”... apparently those magazines are published by people like me hoping that doing George Bush “wouldn't be prudent” impressions is going to get them dates. I saw evidence of no such beast. Being funny was all I had in my tool shed so I swung that axe for all it was worth. What happened instead was a whole lot of, “aha ha... you're so funny Dave, now you go over there and dance the monkey dance while I eat Big Mac's and ballroom dance with your best friend OK?”. Yes. Perfect. I'll do that m'lady.
Well things changed in my SIXTH... yes SIXTH year of high school. After driving myself (and everyone around me) crazy for many moons, I was at the end of my rope. Then one day I snapped in history class.... in Grade 14. You read that right.
She was wearing blue sweat pants and a big woolly sweater. In fact, she always wore big woolly sweaters. She looked silently with a bit of a pregnant pause, as if deciding whether or not to jump off a tall cliff into unknown waters. Then she said asked me something that I didn't recall anyone every asking me. She whispered the words, "do you wanna talk?" I had no good reason to say yes. That summer, I had seen this very girl act in an evangelistic play that my brother had invited me to in an attempt to "save me". She was carried off stage left by the "Light Brigade". I went home that night, more sure than ever that my brother was firmly in the grips of a cult. But that day in history class, I didn't think about that. I did need to talk. So I said yes.
So we talked. For nearly a month, this very patient girl who seemingly had a new wool sweater every day, let me spew every sort of venomous thought that rolled through my mind (and a few extras just to see how she'd react). It was messy but she didn't stop letting me talk. It was weird quite frankly. Christian AND Cute AND Normal??? We had gone to school together for 5 years and had never noticed each other. We were from very different social circles and had very little in common... but the more we talked... the more we noticed the sparks flying. Something was up.
The first Saturday after turning 19 and being legally able to drink, I bought my friends their beer for our regular Saturday night party... then ditched them. I picked up Miss Wool Sweater in my bus-like Ford Econoline Van and brought her over my house to watch Field of Dreams. Understand this. To guys who are now almost 40, Field of Dreams is not just a movie. It's THE movie. It's got big dreams, fantasy baseball, playing catch with your Dad. Field of Dreams... hallowed by thy name. When the line of cars "coming to Iowa for reasons they can't even fathom", faded to black and James Horner's haunting score cued... she leaned in a kissed me. It lasted the whole credits long until the last oboe had played. This was not the first time my lips had touched another's... but this... was my first KISS. What was happening was a different beast altogether. We talked after and decided that we could never be together if we believed different things, no matter what was going between us. We knew how that story ended and neither was prepared to go down that road. Being with the girl I actually wanted, after all these years, had a giant Mr. Omnipotent standing squarely between us, asking me what I was going to choose.
One day the talking stopped. Miss Woolly Sweaters decided that enough was enough. She saw Mr. Omnipotent just as clearly as I did and He was asking her some serious questions too. After listening to my venom for about 10 minutes over the phone one night she said, "Dave... it's time for you to either choose God or choose to go to hell." OK. So this was how it was going to be. And she was right. I wanted her, but I wanted Him more. Two weeks later, I said yes to Mr. Omnipotent. Jesus smiled and hugged me back. Miss Woolly Sweaters was sitting right beside me crying unrestricted tears along with me. Without having to say a word, we knew that we were "together" forever. We went home from the church that night with red puffy eyes and each others snot on our shoulders. 3 years later we stood at the altar. 18 years later we have 3 kids.
Personally, I like the scene where Sam Wainwright calls Mary to let her in on the ground floor of a big business deal manufacturing plastics. Such a charmer that Sam. Hee Haw. A Bailey Building-and-loan weary, grumpy,dejected George has just come calling on the girl who doesn't seem to fit into what he sees as "HIS plan." She's not a world traveler. She doesn't seem to have big aspirations. She's even a little bit ordinary. But he just can't get her out of his heart and she's loved him since he was a child.
Mary (who for some reason has cross-stitched a pillow in honor of their "lasso the moon" date) tries to recapture the old magic by playing "Buffalo Girls" on the Gramophone, but George will have none of it and starts kicking things. Nice house guest. When Sam calls, George and Mary on on the verge of a "well fine then!" walk out the door and never come back moment. But then Sam calls George over to huddle with Mary around the old two piece telephone. They can hear Sam talking, but their souls begin to lock and load. With half anger and half insatiable attraction, George drops the phone and shakes Mary. He says, in a "damn it woman" kinda way,
"Now, you listen to me! I don't want any plastics, and I don't want any ground floors, and I don't want to get married - ever - to anyone! You understand that? I want to do what I want to do. And you're... and you're..."
He then gives her the hottest cheek to 1940's cheek-smash that I've ever seen. Moments later, in movie time, they're married. It was a messy melange of passion, tears, selfishness, ambition, honesty, lies, control, love, fighting and destiny. That makes for quite a stew, but it's potent, and very real. Both of the fronts that George and Mary had put on to impress and hide were completely gone. Their best laid plans lay in ruins as their lips joined. Being together may have made little sense (relationships rarely do)... but they couldn't deny what was going on. They were just THEM. Together. Two bare souls submitting to what was happening "in the spirit".
"You're not in charge here. The Father who sent me is in charge. He draws people to me—that's the only way you'll ever come. Only then do I do my work, putting people together, setting them on their feet, ready for the End."
Jesus in John 4:44-45 (The Message)
I'm more committed and in love with Kristina Carrol than I've ever been 18 years later. She grows more beautiful each day. God PUT us together. As our vows said:
"What God has joined together let no man put asunder"
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