After letting everyone know that I married my first date, it occurred to me that folks may be interested in our first date. Fitting for me, even still, our date didn’t go exactly as I had planned.
It was a Saturday, October 10, 1975, and I had just gotten off work at my grandmother’s dress shop. The rest of my family was out of town, due to return sometime that evening. When my grandmother dropped me off at home, I realized that my house key was missing. Oops!
How was I to get ready for my very first date when I couldn’t get into my house?
Fortunately, I brought home an outfit from Betty’s Style Shop, so I padded up the street to my great grandmother’s house to change. Having a great alternative location for sprucing myself up for the date was wonderful, but how was my date to know where to pick me up?
Now came the embarrassing part…calling him and telling him I was down the street.
Back in the day, girls just didn’t call guys, especially before the first date. To make things worse, his mother answered. I thought I was going to die! I’m sure she thought I was a pitiful little girl who had no business dating her son. Anyway, I let him know where I was and that was that.
It was like being taken to the ball in a carriage once he arrived. Since his car was a “passionate purple” Chevrolet Corvair with bucket seats and a stick shift, he borrowed his grandmother’s white Plymouth for a more proper date vehicle.
We got something to eat (I don’t recall where), went to the movies (all I remember is closing my eyes and drinking my Coke during an embarrassing scene), and he took me home before my 11:00 curfew.
Now these were the days before even mobile phones, much less cell phones, so there was no way for my family to let me know they were running late. I’m sure we had some intelligent conversation about what to do, since it was too late to go to my great grandmother’s house and I was still locked out of mine.
For whatever reason, we decided to drive a block up the street to talk in front of the Sam Houston Gravesite (which was directly across from our high school for those who aren’t familiar with my hometown). How romantic!
What happened once we were there in front of Old Sam probably set the course for the rest of our lives together.
We just talked and talked and talked.
Talked about how much we loved Colorado, mountains, and someday wanted to live in a cabin all alone, like a hermit, on a mountain.
Talked about what foods we liked…broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, liver, and other foods most teens despise.
Talked about our families…that we both had to grow up without our parents staying together.
Talked about being scared to get married, because we never wanted to get divorced.
Talked about our dreams and hopes for the future, despite our tainted perspective on relationships.
Right there, under the street light that illuminated the grave of the Father of Texas, we spent an hour or more getting to know each other, totally oblivious of the time. Uh, oh, now I was past my curfew on my very first date ever in my life! How I wanted this first date to be perfect! Now it seemed like a disaster!
Needless to say, I was in trouble when I got home, even though it really wasn’t our fault, at least that’s what I thought as a fourteen (almost fifteen) year old freshman. He escorted me to the door, and my mother began to explain how important it was for her to know I was safe. Giving us an option, which we gladly accepted, Mom said we could park outside the house to visit in the future.
From that very first date night, my mother and I were both assured that he would take care of me. I don’t think she ever worried again, just as long as he was with me. Frankly, she should have been worried on occasion, but she had the utmost trust and faith in my sweetheart and still does to this day.
I don’t think I ever forgot to bring my key with me again, either.
But, something sparked that night with my sweetheart, though he had been through an episode of I Love Lucy with me on our first date. We said our good nights without a kiss, which said something to me about his respect for me.
You know, we set ourselves up for such unattainable expectations and worry whether or not we will get what we want or not. God just smiles and waits for us to realize He is bringing things in our lives for our good and His glory.
What if I hadn’t forgotten my key? Would things have turned out the same?
How many relationships have started out with a physical attraction and never get down to what really matters over the long haul? Yes, we should have watched the time a bit better than we did that night, but we had a very honest conversation that resonates with us, still.
God helped us through our fears of marriage ending up in divorce. In addition, He has given us many opportunities to go and enjoy the mountains and not just in Colorado. We’ve never lived there, but at least we would want to live there together now. Even our kids both love to eat those “nasty” vegetables and liver, too.
It’s a good life, one with struggles and pain, but also with a God who sees us and takes care of us through it all.
By Cheryl Neiswender