Thursday, January 28, 2016

I Got Your "Meet Cute" Right Here

Whenever you first meet someone, there are standard things they're bound to ask you: Where do you live? Where did you grow up? What sort of work do you do?

This pattern of inane question-asking continues once you get to know them well enough to reveal your relationship status. If you're single, they'll usually either mention some other great single person they know who you "have to meet!" or ask if you've tried online dating. (Note to the world: It's 2016. Every person over 30 who is still single and not a sociopath has at least tried online dating. You can stop asking about it.) If you're in a relationship, you know what's coming next.

" did you guys meet?"

Now, I actually love a good "how we met" story, mainly because I just love a good story in general (you could tell me a "how I lost a limb in a tractor accident" story and I'll like it if it's compelling enough), but most couples' stories of how they met are pretty lame. Oh wow, you met at work? He flirted with you in the break room for months before finally asking you to lunch? And now you ride the train in to the office together every morning? Fascinating! Zzzz...

By my somewhat rigid, but admittedly skewed, standards of what makes a good "how we met" story, I think ours is pretty entertaining, primarily due to the number of stars that had to align for it to happen. But I'll let you decide how worthy of the label "cool story, bro" it is.

Remus and I met because he's my mother's high school friend's ex-husband's common-law wife's son from her first marriage.

Did you follow that?

He had been living in Chicago for years, and when I made the decision to move here after stints in Boston, NYC, and Washington, DC, my mother's friend (who I have known since birth) gave me his contact info as someone in the area who might be able to help with finding an apartment, job hunting, and all the other nightmares that come with moving to a new city. She's one of those people who somehow manages to have a civil relationship with her ex-husband and is actually friendly with his new partner and her kids. I'm not sure how this is possible, given that my parents got divorced around the same time as her, and they couldn't even be in the same room together without blood being shed.

I started communications with an introductory text message, which he responded to with an offer to have a phone chat about Chicago stuff, which I quickly shot down with, "I don't like talking to people on the phone; here's my email address." Because I'm socially awkward like that.

Several weeks of silence later I was in Chicago for a long weekend to go apartment hunting and got a random email from Remus asking if I was still looking for a place because he had a friend who was looking to sublet. As I was already in town to specifically find an apartment, I went to check the place out, filled out an application, and was offered the place by the end of the trip. The friends I was staying with asked who this mysterious "friend of a friend of the family" was who told me about the apartment, then declared, "Wouldn't it be funny if you guys met and hit it off? Is he cute?!" Hahaha, shut up. That only happens in movies from the '90s starring Julia Roberts.

Remus offered to meet up for coffee while I was there so we could actually meet in person, which I found an excuse not to do, because I couldn't be bothered. And I'm socially awkward like that.

About a month later I moved into my new Chicago apartment and figured the least I could do was offer to take the guy who hooked me up with the place out for drinks or dinner as a thank-you. So we agreed to meet and he picked the restaurant, which I was initially happy about since I had no clue where would be a good place to go, but then was sort of horrified once I saw the prices on the cocktail and dinner menus. Luckily, he recognized that the place he chose was less "thank you, kind stranger" priced and more "happy 10th anniversary, honey" priced, and picked up the check, suggesting that we move to a more modestly-priced bar for after-dinner drinks. My gut instinct normally would have been to find an excuse to beg off so I could go home and be left alone, but I agreed to go, which should have been the first sign that I was in trouble, but at the time I didn't pick up on it. Because I'm socially awkward like that. (But I did pick up that check, so thank-you mission accomplished!)

I was prepared to write the evening off as a nice time with someone I was unlikely to see again, but the following weekend I wanted to check out the Lincoln Park Conservatory and my immediate thought after deciding to go was, I wonder if Remus would be interested in going. This was the moment I knew I was in trouble, as my natural instinct at any point in the past would have been to go alone and not even think of inviting anyone else. When he responded to my invite that "trees and flowers aren't usually my thing, but that could be nice with some good company," I was pretty sure we were both done for.

That day eventually turned into a 7-hour date where everything from work history, family history, and dating history was covered, and I was left unable to shake the feeling that I had met someone who completely "got" me without even having to work at it.

The following week was New Year's Eve, I was invited to a house party, which I then invited Remus to, and then immediately panicked that I had completely misread the signals and he would have no interest in spending what is (strangely, in my opinion) a kind of romantic holiday with me. But the invite was accepted, with an offer to have dinner before the party.

As we killed an hour at my place in between dinner and leaving for the party, I finally mustered up the nerve to blurt out, "So, do you want to get the awkward first kiss out of the way now, or later?"

And we've been together ever since. And that's our "how we met" story. Good enough for you?

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