Built To Last

Ten years is a long time.  There are many durable items that testify to being “built to last” that can’t survive intact for more than a decade.  For example:

  • Snow tires
  • Cheap roofing
  • Exterior paint
  • Weather stripping
  • Egg Beaters (even from the freezer.  Trust me)
  • Gift cards from JC Penney (don’t even get me started)

Exactly ten years ago today, Friday the 13th, 2000, I met my wife, Gabby.  Luckily, the event was chronicled by a professional photographer.

It started like this…

No, that is obviously not us.  That lovely couple is Jason and Candice Hicks.  They chose to get married on Friday the 13th, and invite us.  Jason was a former college roommate of mine, who moved to Austin, TX.  He worked as an engineer at Dell.  That’s where Gabby met him.

I know what you’re thinking.  If you meet someone on Friday the 13th, you should probably just call it quits after the first date on principle.  Nothing good can come of that, right?  But, given that our friends were courageous enough to commit their lives to each other on that date, then we could at least share dinner and a movie.

When we got to the wedding reception, I noticed Gabby right away.  She was incredibly hot, in a sophisticated way.  Great smile.  Great haircut.  Nice ears.

Note:  Apparently, at this same time, Gabby was checking me out.  Her assessment was slightly different.  She told her friends, and I quote,

“He looks cocky.”

She arrived at the reception with three other folks, Summer, Dev, and Jeannie (pictured here L to R).

I automatically assumed she was there with Dev, due to her level of hotness, and the fact that Dev can bench press a Volvo and drink protein shakes fortified with nails and concrete.

Undeterred, I asked around about the hot chick.  The first person I questioned was this guy.

I know.  He doesn’t look like a trustworthy source.  My analysis skills had been slightly dampened by two glasses of wine.   That’s my friend Jamie.  An Irishman who worked diligently this night to live up to the Irishman stereotype.  The open bar helped.

Jamie said, between sips of lager, “That’s Gabby.  She’s been dating some guy for 8 months.”

Problem solved.  I gave up on the idea of Gabby, and immediately moved on to plan B.

Dancing like an imbecile (pictured here).

After a few more beverages, I decided to ask Gabby’s friend Summer to dance.  In retrospect, this probably was not the wisest move when trying to woo a woman.  To this day, I still hear about my questionable decision making skills.

As the evening progressed, I was approached by Jamie once again.  In his lovely Irish accent, he informed me (shocking!) that his previous assessment of Gabby’s relationship status may have been incorrect.  In fact, she had recently dumped the guy she was dating, and, had Facebook been around back then, her status would have been “Available, but not looking.”

But something told me she might be easily persuaded to dance. (pictured here)

I plotted my next step, which involved showing off my latest dance move.  I call it “Rhythm-less Man with Broken Arm”.  (pictured here)

I use it to take women’s attention away from their own groove.  You can see how well it’s working.

Finally, the music slowed, and I made my move.  I was nervous.  Sweaty.  Talking too fast.  Hoping that the rapid-fire words would shock her into submission.

I guess it worked.  I don’t remember the song.  Only that it was very long.  “Stairway to Heaven” long.  “Bye, Bye Miss American Pie” long.  And like most conversations, the length of the song was amplified by our awkward chatter.

But it didn’t matter.  I was hooked.  (pictured here)

Who else has a picture of the night they met their wife?  How lucky can one guy be.

The rest of the story goes like this.  We left the reception early to go dancing downtown.  Once there, I thought she left me, so, I asked Summer to dance again.  The problem?  Gabby had only gone to the bathroom.

When she returned, she asked, “So, do you want to dance with me, or with Summer?  ‘Cause we’re friends, and I don’t want to play those silly games.”

“I wanna be with you,” I answered.

And that’s how it remains.  Summer married a guy named Tim, and they have two beautiful boys.

As for Gabby?  The next day, I dragged Jamie along with me to meet her friends for lunch.  Two days later, I sent some roses.  Three months later, I was moving to Austin.  I tell Gabby that it was because I had a new job there, but she knows the truth.

Accidental?  Maybe so.  But whether it’s accidental missionary work, or accidental relationships, some things are just meant to be.  Sometimes you meet someone who makes you a better person.  Someone who challenges you to be more than you could be alone.  Someone whose giant heart teaches you about friendship, generosity, love and service.  Things that are built to last.

And today, I’m just thankful.