Dave and I first met in 2002 over the salad bar sneeze guard of Sweet Tomatoes restaurant. Well, that might not be entirely true. My mom, friend Kori, and I were having lunch before an afternoon of shopping. I was loading up my plate when I heard Dave and his friend Bryce walk in. When Dave walked in, he saw me looking in his general direction and instantly thought we had shared a “moment.” In truth I had only looked up because I had heard the door open and I hadn’t paid much attention to him.
Unbeknownst to me, Dave and Bryce sat in the booth right behind ours so Dave could watch me. Then before they were to leave, Dave decided to come over and chat. He made small talk for a few minutes and then said, “I borrowed this pen from the hostess and I’ll feel really bad if I return it before I get your number.” He pointed to me. I had a mouth full of food and was caught completely off guard. Despite the fact that I could feel the heat radiate from my face I managed to give him my name and number. Then I intentionally avoided his eye contact for the rest of the meal.
Two days later, Dave called to ask me on a date. I told him I’d think about it and call him later. Dave was obviously handsome and charming but I was dating someone else at the time and I felt like it was important to see where my current relationship would go. I called Dave back (got his voicemail – luckily) and told him I was flattered by his invitation but was dating someone else.
Despite my rejection, Dave continued to call every few weeks. I’d avoid his phone calls. As the months went on (I later learned) he concocted a story saying he’d found my number while cleaning his car and decided to call and see what I was up to. The reality was he had programmed my number in his cell phone and had had multiple conversations about me being the one who got away. After one such discussion, Bryce told Dave to call me again. Dave had a feeling that it wasn’t just a coincidence that I never answered the phone when he called (he was right). He told Bryce he knew I was avoiding his calls and maybe it was time for him to give up. Bryce, never one to let things go without a fight, picked up the phone and called me.
I answered without looking at the caller ID. Bryce, pretending to be Dave, chatted with me for a few minutes and then asked if I would be interested in going to dinner. I told him that it was a very kind offer, but I had a feeling my fiancé might have a problem with me dating someone else. That’s right. Remember the guy I was dating when Dave first asked for my phone number? Well, he’d proposed several months after I’d met Dave and I’d accepted. The voice on the other end of the phone congratulated me on my engagement and said goodbye. Dave didn’t call again.
Fast forward several months.
I’d broken off my engagement with the other guy and was feeling depressed about life in general. I had a birthday coming up and in an effort to boost my mood, my mom and friend Erin were throwing me a surprise birthday party. My mom had always liked Dave. In fact, Dave had been affectionately referred to as Sweet Tomatoes. She told Erin that she wanted to invite Sweet Tomatoes to the party, but she knew I would be livid if I knew my mom had just called him out of the blue. Luckily, Erin wasn’t worried about upsetting me.
She called Outback Steakhouse (where Dave had mentioned he worked). Dave had not yet arrived so she left him a message. Dave called Erin when he got to work and she promptly explained that the girl he’d met six months ago at Sweet Tomatoes was no longer engaged and that he was invited to attend her surprise birthday party.
Needless to say, Dave was shocked. He couldn’t come to the party because he had to work, but he agreed to call me when his shift was over. Dave called, we talked, and went out on a date the next weekend. We both fell head-over-heels pretty quickly. We dated, got engaged, and were married almost one year later.