This is a chapter from my book-in-progress, I Married him Anyway.
“Do you shave?” Richard asked me.
We were on our “First Date; The Second Time Around.” “The First Time Around” was when we dated on and off during high school. We’d break up every summer when he’d leave for camp. After all, I needed my freedom.
After seeing a student production of “Once Upon a Mattress” at Lake Forest College, we stopped for dinner at The Aardvark Pub. As we waited for our orders to arrive, we sipped our Cokes, talked about the Star Wars movies, college, our parents, siblings, and even our dogs.
Up until he’d asked me if I shaved, being out with Richard that night was so easy, comfortable, and familiar. I was so happy to have found him (more on that in another chapter) and that he wasn’t dating anyone at the time.
We both seemed happy to be in each others’ company. We picked up right where we’d left off four years earlier, except we were now four years older, and much more mature.
Well, I was. He needed a few more years in the oven.
I remembered Richard as being the nicest guy I’d ever met. I was going to be moving back home after attending Indiana University so I could finish up my English, Creative Writing degree at Lake Forest College. I hoped Richard had come home from Miami of Ohio and was living with his parents.
While at I.U., every frog I’d kissed wasn’t capable of turning into a prince, and I chucked every fish I’d dated back into the sea. I was in yet another a dead-end, unhealthy relationship at the time. In fact, it was so dead, it needed to end.
I finally realized it was time to be in a meaningful relationship with someone who I cared about, and who cared about me. I just knew Richard was that person, and I couldn’t get him, and his hair, out of my mind.
On a puddle-jumper from Bloomington, IN to Chicago, the only other passenger on the plane was Barb, a mutual friend of Richard’s and mine. She was sitting across the aisle from me. Coincidence? I don’t believe in them.
Before the plane took off, and it was quiet enough for us to hear each other, Barb and I caught up on life. The topic of conversation finally landed on Richard. I told Barb how much I’d missed him, and asked her if she knew where he was, and what he was doing. She didn’t, but she gave me great advice, and I’ll always be grateful to her for that.
So, after transferring to Lake Forest College, I began a quest to find Richard. If I was successful, I was going to ask him out.
That’s all I had to do, but, as I’ve always been told, I make things more difficult than they have to be. I didn’t just call him; I took the scenic route.
With Barb’s words of wisdom in my head, and a lot of help from my friend, Laura, which involved stalking Richard, and several other misdemeanors (which I’ll elaborate on at another time,) I was finally on a date with Richard.
And, that’s when he said those three little words.
It was such a strange question, I wasn’t even sure I understood what he meant.
“Do I shave what?” I thought to myself. “Poodles? Sheep? A little off the top?”
I still needed time to process his question.
Thankfully, our food arrived, giving me a few more seconds to try to formulate an answer.
So, I picked up a French fry, and said, “Well, I get my legs waxed, if that’s what you mean.”
He glanced up from his plate. The expression on his face looked like I had just told him one of my favorite hobbies was blood-letting. He had obviously never heard of waxing.
I thought that if I explained what waxing was, I’d get closer to understanding why he wanted to know if I shaved. “Well, it’s kind of like shaving,” I said.
He looked relieved.
“Was that what you meant? I asked, as I picked up another fry.
“Yes,” he said, with a smile. I was happy I had finally cracked his code.
I took a bite out of my burger, being careful to be lady-like and chew with my mouth closed, waiting to speak until I’d finished swallowing, and asked, “Why did you ask me if I shaved?”
I picked up another fry, dipped it in ketchup, and was about to take a bite out of it when he said, “I wanted to find out if you were one of those European-types who doesn’t shave her legs and armpits.”
I dropped my fry. Getting reacquainted was one thing; asking me if I had hairy armpits was an entirely different animal.
Barely looking up from his plate, therefore not seeing the look of bewildered disgust on my face, he said, “I was just wondering if you’d become one of those chicks who went away to college, and decided to go all ‘natural,’” he said, while making air-quotes with his fingers.
I was offended on behalf of my friends who had decided to go the “natural route,”and, I finally understood his question. He wanted to make sure, before he “got with that,” which didn’t happen as quickly as he always tells people it did, that my legs and armpits were as smooth and silky as a Mexican Hairless cat.
At least I knew he wanted to see me again.
Let’s get artificial here, for a moment: I looked completely different from the last time he saw me, and he didn’t notice?
I looked the best I ever, or will ever look, thanks to my very gracious, aforementioned friend, Laura, who spent 2 1/2 hours working magic on my face. As a model, Laura knew what she was up against, and was more than happy to put her talent to good use. Maybe she saw me as a challenge.
My own mother didn’t recognize me when I came home from Laura’s house to get dressed before Richard picked me up in his Red 1974 Plymouth Duster.
Laura had applied her own expensive makeup with her own expensive brushes to turn this frizzy duckling into a sparkling swan. She even lent me one of her favorite necklaces. I have to say, I looked exquisite and radiant. And all Richard wanted to know is if I shaved?
Finally, I figured out why Richard hadn’t noticed Laura’s handiwork. There’s a step at the entrance to my parents’ house, so when I opened the front door to let Richard in to pick me up for our date, I stood about six inches taller than he. Richard failed to look at my face, or make direct eye contact because his eyes had made direct boob contact. That’s when he said these five little words, “Nice to see you both.”
I guess I’d overlooked his comment because as soon as I saw him, I fell hopelessly in love and was busy planning our wedding in my head.
A paper bag over my head would have sufficed, as long as the girls were front and center.