One of the best parts about writing or reading romance is watching love bloom between two people. As a writer, I get to put characters in tough, painful, emotional situations — and some really fun, romantic, make-you-grin-while-you-read moments. It’s both cool and odd when I’m in that rough-draft stage, deep into a scene, and realize I’m grinning from ear to ear. Hopefully that means the reader will do the same thing, right?
Even better is watching our own relationships unfold. Last month I hit that birthday where my husband and I have been a couple for half my life, dating and married. Yet that first date is still pretty vivid.
Steve and I had worked together at a summer day camp our church ran. We’d slowly been building a friendship, and now we were going to work together for another summer. Our first work meeting was set for June 1, right after the Wednesday evening service. Steve called to remind me about the meeting — he’d been the boss the summer before — and I remember thinking, Isn’t there anything else you want to ask me?
Well, yes. Yes, there was.
He asked if I’d like to go out for ice cream after our meeting.
I said sure, trying to sound all calm, of course.
A missionary was speaking that night. And he went long. Long long. Of all the nights…
So our work meeting started late. Much later than expected. By the time we finally left the church building, it was after nine. The nice ice cream places had closed.
So we went to… McDonald’s.
I don’t remember what he ordered, but I got a hot fudge sundae, and we sat inside the restaurant and talked while we ate. Conversation was pretty easy between us because we’d been friends for a couple years. There was nothing awkward about the date at all.
Until a friend from the church’s singles group interrupted us. “Hey!” She gave us a big grin. “What is this? A first date?”
She was completely joking, but we both looked at her and said, “Uh, yeah.”
Her eyes got big, and she slapped a hand over her mouth. “I’m so sorry!” she said. “I’ll go!”
We cracked up once she left.
Our dates were definitely a bit fancier after that, but I think about that friend teasing us and I still chuckle, all these years later. Of course no relationship goes perfectly, so we had some of those angsty, painful moments that make for a great novel and a not-so-fun real-life memory. But that first date, holding onto that plastic container, watching a friend realize we were on a first date, is one of my favorites.
Your turn! Tell me about your first date, even if you didn’t end up together. And if it was terribly awful? Hey, those can be the best stories! Share that one too.