How I Met Their Father

It’s coming up on the anniversary of the first time I met my husband. He doesn’t think I remember it, since I’ve successfully portrayed myself as not at all sentimental about these kinds of things. But I remember it and I’d like to tell you the real story of how we met.

My husband has romanticized parts of this, so some of you may have heard another version of the story. When we have people over for dinner, he sometimes will tell his version. In his variation of How I Met Your Mother, the minute he saw me walk through the doors at the Trumbull County Commissioners, he knew he was going to marry me. He doesn’t mention that my hair was dirty and I was wearing a bee suit. He was just so glad that my nose wasn’t as big as he thought it was going to be, he figured it could be worse and we should immediately get pre-engaged.

We were actually supposed to meet the previous fall. I was a journalism student at Kent State and he was a journalism student at Youngstown State, where he worked with Lisa, a girl who was my friend since Brownie Day Camp. Lisa tried to fix us up and kept talking me up to him, telling him about this girl she knew at Kent and how famously we would hit it off. He was editor of the Jambar, the campus newspaper, and couldn’t have cared less about a really cute girl at Kent. Plus, he had two girlfriends already. He was very busy.

I had one boyfriend and was a mere news editor and columnist at the Daily Kent Stater, so I listened as Lisa told me about this really cute guy from YSU. Eventually, Lisa insisted that they take a road trip to Kent so we could meet.

Meanwhile, back at the Stater, a new photographer took my head shot for my column and - oops! - she forgot to take off the fish eye lens, and my picture looked like a younger version of this:

Two columns of mine ran with that photo before I could get a photographer to leave the dark room long enough to retake my picture with a regular lens. (I knew enough about that dark room to know that it was sometimes difficult to entice a photographer out of there to take pictures. Sometimes you had to put a pizza in the doorway and leave a trail of schnapps to lure them out.)

Cut to YSU: My someday-to-be-husband picks up a copy of our paper and sees the picture. Eeegads. He tells Lisa that – Oh! He just remembered! He‘s busy that weekend that they’re supposed to go to Kent to see the – ahem! - cute girl.

The trip was off and the rest of the school year went by and then I graduated and was working at the Niles Daily Times. He was working at the Youngstown Vindicator and was sent to cover the Trumbull County Commissioners. That morning, I was feeling the effects of being out late with my friends Ed and Bob, the three of us being on a month-long streak of staying out late drinking at the bowling alley and then going to Ed’s house to swim in his bowling pin-shaped pool. On a school night. Nothing good can come of that kind of behavior.

I barely rolled out of bed with enough time to throw on some clothes, which explains why I chose the bee suit. It was not my favorite outfit, but it was clean: bright yellow pants and a yellow and black striped blousey knit shirt with a wide band around the bottom and shoulder pads. It was 1981. Don’t laugh.

And I’m almost 100 percent sure I didn’t wash my hair, which may have still had chlorine and leaves in it from the bowling pin pool.

My editor told me to run over to county commissioners to make sure that another of our reporters, Tim Roberts, had made it to the meeting. (Looking back, what kind of a Mickey Mouse operation was this news organization? A bunch of hung over, inexperienced, 21-year-olds in bee suits, reeking of the bowling alley, who may or may not have been able to find the county administration building. How we ever got a traffic report in the paper is a mystery.)

I ran over to the county commissioners and could hear that the meeting was just starting. I opened the big doors and was face to face with an audience full of angry citizens, conspiracy theorists, the unemployed, the self-employed looking to run for commissioner soon, the homeless, and a couple of reporters - in other words, your average county commissioner meeting audience. I made bloodshot eye contact with Tim Roberts, closed the doors and left.

“Who was that?” my someday-to-be-husband asked him, and was surprised to hear that it was me, and that my nose, while not small by any stretch of the imagination, was at least not the size of a toddler’s fist. That single fact canceled out all the other things wrong with me and he claims he knew right then and there that he would marry me.

I doubt it.

But that’s what he says. That’s also where he ends the story. Everyone says, “Oh, isn’t that sweet.” But here’s what happened afterward: He called Lisa and expressed an interest in meeting me. So we went on a casual four-person thing (not a date) to The Motor Bar, his dad’s bar in Youngstown.

Then he never called me. The county commissioner grand entrance high apparently took a nosedive and he forgot all about me, the girl he was going to marry. A week went by, so I called him and asked him to go to lunch. He agreed to go and then never showed up, leaving his bride-to-be sitting in a Western Sizzlin’ all alone. I didn’t order any food, thinking he would be walking through the big barn-siding doors any minute. My friends from back then will tell you I could eat more than most people twice my size. This was during the Salad Bar Glory Days and I was known to wipe out entire containers of black olives, garbanzo beans, cheddar cheese and croutons before even getting to the lettuce. I went hungry that day.

He says he slept in. But remember, this was a lunch date. Slept past noon? OK. We didn’t actually get married for 2½ more years, so he did lots of good stuff in between that and our actual wedding.

And we obviously did get married. Otherwise this story would be archived in the files under Old Boyfriends Who Saw Me in the Bee Suit.

This is what we looked like then. I’m no Tippi Hedren, but I think my nose is definitely medium-large sized, leaning more toward medium.

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