Twenty-three years ago today, Jonesy asked me out on our first date. We were at dinner, just the two of us, the very best of friends. The night before we had watched the fireworks at Thunder Over Louisville with his family out on the banks of the Ohio River.
After evening church services, he asked what my plans were. I told him he was buying me dinner. So he did. At Taco Bell. I had a water, a soft taco, and a bean burrito. It was under $2.00, the meal broke-college-me had come to trust in. We sat eating sub par Mexican pondering the vested interest our community had in our dating.
“I could write a book about it,” I laughed,” 1001 Ways to get Nathan Jones To Ask You Out on a Date.” Just that afternoon, the preacher’s wife had pushed, “Why aren’t the two of you dating?” It was more complicated than anyone wanted to believe. I had been dating my dentist in Louisville, and there was that college boy in Tennessee that always seemed to keep my attention. The friendship with Nathan was uncomplicated. It was easy Taco Bell dinners and deep conversations. It was laughter and music.”Well,” she retorted, “You should just walk straight up to him and grab him and kiss him as hard as you can.” That was the 1001st suggestion to complete the book. She was not alone in the push to get us to date.
The conversation moved on to other things and we finished our tacos. Nathan needed to drive me back to my car at the church building. We pulled into the parking lot. We stayed chatting a little longer and as I gathered my stuff to get out of the car, he asked.
“So, would you want to go on a date with me?”
I turned to look him in the eye. I could feel a smile involuntarily hit my face.
He said he would pick me up for dinner the next night after I got home from work.
I smiled the whole way home. I kept thinking about how nervous I was. How strange to think that the next night would be the third night in a row I would eat with this man. But now I was nervous, excited, a little bit frightened. All those great emotions that make first dates the most amazing and nauseating experiences.
The addendum to the book of how to get Nathan Jones to ask you out might include #1002: eat dinner for less than $2, it is a truth universal that guy is “frugal.” But most probably it would include don’t try to make it happen, but instead be grateful for a friendship that developed first, which is the foundation of the most amazing 23 years.