I love to watch old movies. Give me Cary Grant…Clark Gable…Marlon Brando…Elizabeth Taylor…Katherine Hepburn…Vivien Leigh..with all of their charm and sexuality and strength. It seems to me that nowadays, men and women have forgotten just a little bit of what it means to be a member of their sex. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for equal rights and women being able to take care of themselves, but what happened to the days where we let each other be awesome? Hold open doors..Flirt under our eyelashes..Thrill each other with a touch. When did we decide it was ok to act like a hot mess (ladies) and be less than a gentleman (guys)? My friend Nicole once told me about how she refused to let her now husband Justin pay for her when they first started dating. She couldn’t stand the idea of someone taking care of her. And really, she was kind of pissed she liked him so much. My other friend Casie voiced her frustration with herself one night over drinks, telling me that she wanted guys to open doors for her, but ended up walking so fast in front of them that she ended up opening the door for them. “Why can’t I just let him walk in front?!” She would cry out exasperated. I think my point is that we shouldn’t need a man to open a door for us or to take us to a fancy dinner. But it sure is nice when they do. Men shouldn’t need for us to make them a sandwich or listen sympathetically when they complain about their hard day at work. But it sure is nice when we do. Get it?
One of my favorite musicals is called “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” It tells the story of a Adam, a burly and ruggedly handsome backwoodsman and his pretty new bride Milly. She travels back home with him to the mountains only to find that he shares his cabin roof with six brothers. They are wild and rowdy and have all of the manners of a pack of hyenas. Milly has her work cut out for her, but manages to turn them into respectable gentlemen…that is at least until they ride into town and kidnap six pretty girls with the idea that they will meekly come along and become their wives. Little do they know, they have will have a tough time convincing the girls to go along with this plan. I love this movie for so many reasons, but especially love the scenes where Milly teaches the men how to court the women who have caught their eye.
And I think this is what is so appealing to me..the idea of men and women “courting” each other. So there I was, dating two very different guys and trying to figure out what the hell I was going to do. I figured only time would tell who the right guy would be for me..and I was right. Little did I know, this ending would come with a very surprising..and handsome…twist.
Mark would ask me out every so often…to dinner..to meet up for drinks with friends..to go Christmas shopping for his mom. That last one lead me to think that maybe he really did like me more than I was catching on. You see, a month had passed, and while Mark kept asking me out..I honestly was a little clueless as to how he felt about me. He never once said anything to indicate his feelings and would go off the grid for a while, and then pop back up again right about the time I thought I was never going to hear from him again. I had pretty much written him off when he asked if I would go to see the Nutcracker Ballet with him the week before Christmas. I was hesitant to say yes, but really did enjoy spending time with him. We had great conversation whenever we were together and there was chemistry. I was starting to get turned off though by a few things he was doing. For instance. Sometimes it felt like Mark was playing the “too cool for school” role. I had yet to see him act excited about anything (me included) and he also started saying weird things like “obvi” and “totes” and “fo’ sho’.” I’m sorry, what? Are you a 14 year old girl?? Are any of those real words? He knew I was an English teacher right? Every time he did it..this picture would pop into my head..all it would take would be for him to drop the term “AMAZEBALLS” and I would seriously delete him from my phone and never look back.
I decided to give him one more chance and agreed to go to the ballet with him. That week I didn’t hear from him once. I was baffled. We are supposed to spend this really romantic evening together and I don’t hear from you in seven days?? Again, baffled. I finally texted him that morning and asked if we were still on for our date that night. Finally around three, he texted me back with a “Yep!” The show started that evening at 7 but we had planned on going to dinner beforehand. Which would have happened if he hadn’t shown up an HOUR late to my house. Now that I think about it, he was late to every single date we had. Ugh..anyway. The ballet was amazing, we grabbed a drink while we waited for the doors to open and when it was time for the show to start, I was thrilled to see that our seats were right up front in the orchestra. It should have been a magical and romantic night. I decided to do the test..the wait and see test. You know, where you wait to see if he will take your hand or not. I didn’t want to make the first move..I wanted him to want to hold my hand, to touch me in some kind of way. He never did. And that did it for me. See ya later Mark. It was fun..mostly. Oh, and you might want to take some notes from that movie I mentioned earlier…you might actually learn something about what it means to be a man..and a gentleman.
And then there was Nate. Sweet, handsome, generous Nate, who drove from Norfolk every week at least once or twice and came to see me every weekend just because he missed me so much when he wasn’t with me. He brought me gobs of flowers…beautiful sunset roses that filled my house. He took me to dinner and hung on my every word…wanted to know everything about me. Brushed the hair away from my face in that touching and romantic way you only see in the movies. We talked about our favorite books..lay around on the couch having lazy Saturday mornings. He made coffee runs for me even though he didn’t drink coffee..won over my neighbor Patty with his easy smile and tight navy uniform. 😉 He left me romantic notes and made me feel as though there was no one else in the world he would rather be with. I went with him to his Naval Christmas party and we had a wonderful time. When someone asked him if I was his girlfriend he responded “I hope she will be soon.” This should have been a no-brainer right? Except it wasn’t…something was holding me back. Day after day I would voice my frustrations to my friends and co-workers. What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I commit one hundred percent to this amazing guy who would make any girl feel as though she had hit the lottery? I couldn’t figure it out and it was annoying the absolute hell out of me.
He came up one weekend to go to a tacky sweater party with me. One of my best friends Elyse and her husband Terry are expert party-throwers and I was looking forward to it all week. I was also really nervous to bring Nate and introduce him to my friends. They are super protective of me..especially after Jeff and Bennett..and their opinions and approval mean the world to me. That night my stomach felt as if the entire USA gymnastics team was doing back handsprings on my organs..not awesome. When we got there, my sense of uneasiness lingered and while Nate was friendly and made an effort to interact with my friends, I began to worry that maybe he was a little too shy…a little too soft-spoken. I tried to keep in mind the fact that I had just thrown him into the proverbial lion’s den and that anyone would feel slightly overwhelmed. I asked the girls later what they thought of him. The response? “He was nice.” hmm…not having to take out the trash is NICE. Old people (mostly) are NICE. Catching a green light when you aren’t in a hurry is NICE. Cuuld someone be too NICE? I set it aside and tried to think about how I felt about Nate. I liked him. A lot actually. What was not to like? But this nagging in my gut was holding me back.
I was still signed up on the dating site, though I didn’t check it very often and one morning my email signaled a message from a new guy. My first thought? “Hot Damn!” haha. I was so used to crazy men messaging me that I had become a little glass-half-empty when it came to my expectations for any new men who might show interest in me. I scoped out his profile and liked what I saw. A lot. I messaged him back and in no time we had exchanged numbers and were texting back and forth. And not just texting. Talking. Like on the phone. I know, I know, it’s crazy. Yeah, I’m being sarcastic here, but you would be shocked at the number of guys who never wanted to talk on the phone. Nate included. This new guy..let’s call him Josh..was awesome. He was really easy to talk to on the phone..we never ran out of things to say, he had the nicest manners..always asked, “may I call you later tonight?” Someone had obviously brought him up right…he was tall (over 6ft woohoo!! it’s a Christmas miracle!), he had the most adorable dimples I had ever seen and was super fit. He asked if he could take me out to dinner and I agreed. I mean..I’m not a complete idiot. And here is a thought I had…if I really was as invested in Nate as I should have been, I wouldn’t have wanted to talk to anyone else. I would have deleted my account and been perfectly ok with not meeting anyone else. The fact that I wasn’t there yet was pretty telling.
So anyway..back to Josh..We went to Mexican and had a great time. He was a little shy I think, but warmed up quickly enough. He told me all about his big crazy family (six brothers and sisters! holy cow) and I instantly felt comfortable with him. After dinner he walked me to my car and then told me to wait, he remembered he had gotten me something. He ran to his car, opened the trunk and took something out. I stood there wondering what the hell this guy was doing when I finally saw what he was holding. “So, I know on first dates guys can get girls a dozen roses. Well, I thought..since I know how much you like Diet Coke, I’d get you a dozen Diet Cokes instead. He stood there, in the cold, holding that case of soda with his cute dimples and looking all handsome and I just melted. I gave him a big hug, thanked him for the date (and the drinks) and knew I wanted to see him again. He totally got me with that move. It..was..genius.
Meanwhile, I was still in a quandary about Nate. When my parents came into town to stay with me for Christmas, I talked to them about the situation I was in. About the distance and his job and how great Nate was, but that something was missing for me. My mom looked at me and brought me back to Earth. “Julia,” She said, “you have to think about what kind of life you want to have. From what you’ve told me, Nate is a wonderful guy and I know you care about him, but you also have to think realistically. How are you going to make this work? What happens if he gets deployed? He’s going to be in the Navy for the next six years at least. Is that the type of life you want?” I knew she was worried for me. Worried that things had been so hard for so long and I knew that all she wanted was for my life to be easy. A life with Nate (if I was going to look that far) would probably not be easy. (side note: I know this because of seeing my sister have to go through a deployment and military lifestyle..I am constantly amazed and in awe of these strong couples who can make their relationships work despite the many obstacles a military life can bring.) My mom was right..of course she was right..and it broke my heart a little because I knew what I had to do.