Please forgive the lovely look on my face. I was annoyed with the photographer, not my date.

Sixteen years ago, I met my friends at our high school football game, just like every other fall Friday night.

That night was a little different, though.

On that night, this guy was hanging around. I’d heard he had a crush on my friend Jammie, and it seemed to be true. He was a senior, but he spent the whole night talking to a bunch of sophomore girls.

I hadn’t met this guy before, despite the fact that our school only had about 100 students in each class. He was sweet. And he laughed at my jokes.

I like that in a guy.

Later that night, the senior took my friend to a party. My other friend, Mindy, and I didn’t go. Mainly because we were afraid of getting in trouble – and because Mindy couldn’t bring herself to lie to her mom about our whereabouts.

Jammie told me all about her evening with that guy at church on Sunday as we worked in the nursery together. She wasn’t sure she liked him, but it was interesting (or annoying) how upset her quasi-date made her ex-boyfriend.

I don’t remember exactly how things transpired over the next couple of weeks. I remember what shirt I was wearing that night and what song was stuck in my head. But honestly, I don’t remember why several of my classmates began lobbying – supposedly on my behalf – for that guy to ask ME to Homecoming.

I do recall talking to my friend Jammie about it. I’d had a falling out with a friend the year before over a guy, and I wasn’t interested in repeating history. Jammie and I decided that we didn’t really care who this guy asked to Homecoming, so it was all good.

And anyway, I liked someone else.

Someone else didn’t like me back, though – and senior guy from the football game, it turns out, did. After a couple of painful weeks of mild flirtation and increasing frustration, he finally called me at home one afternoon.

He asked me to go to the Homecoming dance.

I said yes, but we almost didn’t go. Our softball team was in the running for state finals – or something. I’m not quite sure the softball verbiage; as you may have guessed, I wasn’t on the team. Had they made it, our school was going to reschedule Homecoming.

I hope, after all these years, the softball team will forgive me for rooting against them.

In preparation for the big date, my mom and I went shopping. It was – as all shopping with my mom was back then – horrible. But we finally settled on a cute plaid skirt and vest.

Oh, how I loved vests back then.

After all the drama and trauma of shopping for the perfect dance outfit, I’m sure you can imagine my irritation and disappointment when my date showed up in jeans.

Jeans.

Things didn’t get better when he took me to a buffet for dinner and talked my ear off about his wonderful, perfect family.

He did slow dance with me – twice – at the actual dance. Once to Seal’s Kiss From a Rose and once to Boyz II Men’s I’ll Make Love to You.

Oh, that’s awkward.

After the dance, we went to my friend Jammie’s house, where all my friends who didn’t have dates to the dance were hanging out. Including the guy I liked. Who picked on me – and mocked my patient date – the entire night.

That was awkward, too.

Finally, my date, this senior guy who started out liking one of my friends, drove me home. As we sat in his dark car in my parents’ driveway, I told him that I’d had a nice time.

And then he was kissing me.

I’d like to tell you my toes curled and the earth moved. But, well, I was 15 years old, and all I could think was, “Oh my gosh, I’m kissing a boy! I’m kissing a boy! I’m kissing a boy!”

Since that night – with the exception of a brief breakup that lasted less than 24 hours – that guy and I have been together. Our first date was Homecoming, and we dated through three proms and two graduations. We [barely] endured a long-distance relationship until we couldn’t stand it anymore.

Then we got married.

Today is the anniversary of my first date with Mark. And it’s the day that I officially have been with him longer than I was without him.

And THAT is a finer thing. This post will be linked to Finer Things Friday at Amy’s Finer Things.

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