Today is Chris’ Birthday!! But instead of subjecting you to an ooey gooey Birthday post (I’ll save that for the card), I’m going to tell you a story.
Because, you see, not only is this his 33rd birthday, but it is also the 10th anniversary of when we started dating.
And the fact that we started dating is, in fact, an ode to my dear husband’s bravery.
Let’s start in February of 1999. I was 17 years old, and a senior in High School. I had never been on a single date. I met Chris on a Wednesday night, after one of the guys on the Church praise team (on which I played guitar) invited me to this “thing”.
This “thing” was somewhat akin to a Christian “jam band”, for lack of a better explanation. They met at our Church on Wednesday nights after all of the rest of the activities were over, which meant it started sometime around 9pm, and usually ended after midnight.
(However, being that I was 17, I was never allowed to stay out until it ended.)
So anyway, I walk into the little house that the band (later named freeforall) met in. There were four people there – the guy who invited me, two other people who I already knew, and one person that I’d never met before – Chris.
Chris was 22, in his fifth year of college, working full-time, living on his own, and QUITE the adult, or at least compared to my High School self.
I immediately fell in love with the band, and quickly became a part of the group, playing classical guitar and singing. (Chris played guitar, keyboard, wrote some AMAZING songs, and sang.) We started doing youth events and playing in Churches. Chris and I got to know each other in this band-setting, then started talking on the phone, then hanging out, and becoming better and better friends until we would have unequivocally referred to each other as our best friend.
(While everyone else in our lives were raising their eyebrows and saying “Yeah RIGHT you’re just friends!”)
I was not interested in anything more than friendship at the time – I had decided several years before that I wouldn’t date anyone until I met the man I was going to marry. I’ve always been the overly practical sort, and just saw no point in repeatedly getting my heart broken. So I had promised God that if He would make it clear when it was time, then I wouldn’t date anyone until I met my husband.
Sometime between February and July, I remember someone trying to set me up with a single guy at work. I immediately responded “No thanks –“, and then caught myself before I blurted out, ” — I already know who I’m going to marry.”
I was shocked. I had never consciously had that thought before that moment, but from then on, I recognized it (only to myself) as the truth – I was going to marry Chris.
I still, very oddly, wasn’t in a hurry to start dating. Looking back, I’m really not sure why – the only thing I can surmise is that we just had such a great friendship and had so much fun together, that I was, for the time being, quite happy with that.
However, due to several different events (one of which was another guy showing interest in me and therefore creating an urgency in Chris’ mind that helped him get over the “I’m a horrible, dirty old man for liking a SEVENTEEN YEAR OLD” feeling), we ended up having the “DTR talk” (“Define the Relationship Talk”) right before Chris left to go to the beach for his birthday.
At the time, for whatever reason, I was saying that we needed to back up and get back to our friendship. Or at least define what in the world we were. At any rate, I left the conversation thinking that we were going to back off a bit.
However, Chris left the conversation, and for the beach, with a five subject notebook. In which he apparently used to completely and totally pray through and analyze our relationship and pro/con the potentiality of marrying me.
(I have never seen nor read this in-depth study of my marriage potential – wanna come over and help me dig around in the basement for it?)
And, after coming to a decisive conclusion on Saturday (his birthday), he left the beach in the middle of the night and drove straight to our Church, in order to catch my Dad right after Church was out.
He had a talk with my Dad in the parking lot, and his basic request was, “May I date your daughter with the intention of marrying her?”
Now, my (Ex-Cop) Dad was not exactly Mister-Touchy-Feely with guys interested in his only daughter.
QUITE the opposite.
He was more of the cleaning-the-pistol-and-telling-them-that-he-had-70-acres-on-which-to-hide-their-dead-body (and totally serious about it, too) type.
And, if you tack on the fact that I was 17 and Chris just turned 23, this conversation took real guts. And decisiveness.
(Which, I suppose, is why it took four days and a five subject notebook to ensure that this was, indeed, the course he wanted to take.)
My Dad told Chris that he’d get back to him. Then, that night, Dad wisely had my Mom ask me if I wanted to date Chris, and if I didn’t, then he would tell him no and keep me from having to do it.
As shocked as I was of the timing of this request, I knew without a doubt that he was the man I wanted to marry, so I readily agreed. And, quite shockingly, so did my Dad.
A year and a couple of months later (when we were 18 and 24 years old), it was time for Chris to come back to my Dad to ask another question. This time, it was if he could marry me. Knowing my Dad’s favorite answer to any question was “Do you want my answer right now?” (meaning, of course, that if you DID want an answer right now, the answer was “no”), he chose to send my Dad a very detailed, well thought out, and eloquent letter.
And then, silence.
TWO WEEKS of silence.
Dad didn’t even ACKNOWLEDGE that he got the letter.
Finally, after two weeks, Chris called to talk to me, and before Mom went and got me, she whispered to Chris, “I just want you to know that Vic got your letter. He just takes these sort of things very seriously, and is still praying and thinking about it.”
I don’t know if Mom was worried about Chris giving up, or felt sorry for him, or was concerned for his sanity, but it was quite the nice gesture.
A few days later at Sunday Lunch, Dad pulled Chris out onto the porch (somehow I was quite oblivious to all of this), and they apparently had quite the talk. Amazingly, the talk ended with another “yes” from my Dad.
A “yes” that my Dad had agonized and prayed about until he KNEW that it was the right decision (which, by the way, I cannot BEGIN to tell you how much I appreciate my Dad taking my future so seriously as his responsibility – I highly recommend this approach to ALL dads).
And so, for all of Chris’ bravery and determination in winning my hand in marriage, and in honor of our musically based relational origins, I present to you a song.
No, I didn’t really write it. It’s actually a Monty Python song – I just modified it slightly for my brave, brave husband’s sake. Hopefully you know the song and can hum along in your head. . .
Brave, Brave Sir Chris
Bravely bold Sir Chris rode forth from the Beach.
He was not afraid to die, O brave Sir Chris
He was not at all afraid to be told no in nasty ways
Brave, brave, brave, brave Sir Chris
He was not in the least bit scared to be mashed into a pulp
Or to have his eyes gouged out and his elbows broken
To have his kneecaps split and his body burned away
And his limbs all hacked and mangled, brave Sir Chris
His head smashed in and his heart cut out
And his liver removed and his bowels unplugged
And his nostrils ripped and his bottom burnt off
Brave Sir Chris said what he had to say
Bravely asked to take me away
When silence reared its ugly head
He bravely waited two weeks in dread
Yes, brave Sir Chris stood stout
And gallantly didn’t chicken out
Bravely taking my Dad’s heat
He didn’t for a second retreat
Bravest of the brave, Sir Chris!