This debate has been going on for more than a decade.
Rin and I were set up and met on a blind date of sorts on Dec. 23, 1999. The two of us went to dinner at a sports bar with my dad and my little sister, who was 8 or 9 years old at the time. Not a typical first date – or at least not for me. When Rin left that night, I think I shook her hand or something like that.
The next night, Christmas Eve, fate brought us together again at my grandparents’ house in South St. Louis. This time, it was with half of my family – dad, step mom, brother, sister, grandparents, cousins, etc. Again, not typical. Kind of awkward. Not lots of time for any “just the two of us” moments where we could talk and get to know each other.
That night ended with a handshake, as well as my parting comment: “Have a safe trip.”
My wife has ridiculed me for the past 12 years over what she has deemed an inappropriate and flimsy farewell.
I must protest.
In addition to the handshake, I gave her a Mickey Mouse Christmas card with my phone number. What else was she looking for?
In my defense, several things were in play at that time:
- I knew I liked her. I just didn’t know her.
- I lived in St. Louis. She lived nearly four hours away in Springfield, Mo. Why would I want to travel to Springfield?
- I had just graduated from college earlier that year and didn’t know where I would end up or who I would end up with.
- The little I knew of her, I knew we were complete opposites. Rin was a Bible school graduate. I’d just graduated from four years of Party Central.
- Rin had never seen an R-rated movie. My life was an R-rated movie.
- She was hot, and I didn’t want to come off too forward too fast and screw up what little possibility there was of this thing going anywhere.
- And…I had a date scheduled a few nights later with an all-but-extinguished old flame. (Rin, of course, hates that part of the story.)
So what is the appropriate ending to a first date?
I’d like to say, for the record, that I believe my actions those first two nights with Rin were noble and sweet. A hug might have been better. Possibly a kiss on the cheek. A real kiss would’ve been great — and really fun. But there’s always that awkward moment when you’re trying not to knock noses.
All I have to say is that the handshake must have worked. She called me three days later. I’m sure she would’ve called sooner, but she was traveling.
A week after that phone call, I was speeding in my 1989 white Ford Tempo toward Springfield. And I can guarantee you – that weekend, there were no handshakes. We knocked noses like crazy. Six weeks later in February, we were engaged. Seven months after that we were married. By the following year, we were living in Springfield.
Not bad for a handshake, huh?
Twelve years later, I look back and I think: We both made out pretty well. (On the third date).