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But It’s Not a Date (aka, more than you ever needed to know)

small cycle

I met my husband in Taco Bell. In Hollywood. On my way to the gym. (Yeah, I wasn’t so interested in nutrition back then. But then again, I could get away with it in those days.)

I had worked a little late that night so I didn’t have time to go home and grab some dinner before my Step class (no one rocked the Step like I did. I’m kinda sad that old-school step classes aren’t cool anymore), so I stopped by the Taco Bell near my gym. The drive-thru line was kind of long—because really, who wants to sit alone in a fast food place in one of the skeeviest parts of Hollywood?—so I parked and went inside.

The store was fairly empty. I think there was one person sitting in a corner but other than that, I was the only customer inside. I placed my order, got my food and sat down at a table near a window so I could kind of see everything through the reflection. I didn’t want to face into the store because apparently there’s something about me that drives every freak in a 5-mile radius to walk up to me to chat. I try to wear my Fuck Off face in situations like that, but I must let my guard down for a second because I seem to be a magnet for psychos and stalkers.

As I’m eating my tostada someone walks up and puts a bunch of binders and paperwork on the table next to mine. Seriously? The whole damn place is wide open and you’re going to sit here? Six inches from me? Asshole. Same thing happens in a movie theater, by the way. The whole place will be wide open but some 6’7″ dude will sit right in front of me.

I felt pretty uncomfortable and physically turned my body away while I snarfed up the rest of my food so I could get the hell out of there.

Binder Guy realized he creeped me out and tried to apologize.

“Hey, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable. But I work here. I do security and I can see the whole place from here.”

I looked up to tell him to fuck off, but I found myself gazing into the deepest, most amazing blue eyes I’ve ever seen. I was momentarily speechless. Then I recovered and snarked back something rude to him and gave him the stink eye.

Then he told me again that he felt bad for making me uncomfortable, that he really wasn’t trying to get in my space. He reiterated again that he was security there—he didn’t have any kind of uniform or anything—and when I rolled my eyes at him, he told me that he was also a cop. There was more eye rolling on my part and he suddenly felt compelled to convince me that he was, that he wasn’t some lame-ass security guard. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

“Really, I’m a cop. I’m a detective with LAPD.”

“Let me see your ID,” I demanded. (Where did I get these balls?)

He pulled out his badge and business card. Nothing with a picture.

“How do I know this is you? Let me see your picture ID or driver’s license.” (And apparently the balls are brass.)

He must have felt really bad because he pulled it all out and showed me. I took a look and nodded and he put everything away except the business card. He left that on the table in front of me.

Once I confirmed he was indeed a cop, I read him the riot act. “As a cop you should know better than to sit down next to woman whose by herself. Especially in a place like this.”

Once we got all of that out of the way, he asked me what the hell I was doing in there alone to begin with. Touché.

We talked for a few more minutes and I found out that he was working there off-duty job because he was going through a divorce and needed to make some extra money. I found him charming and sweet and smart. And the eyes. There was something about his eyes. They were both profoundly sad (and tired) yet full of life.

Somehow in the few minutes we spoke we realized we had common acquaintance. My rule of thumb then was Serial Killer Until Proven Otherwise. Knowing we knew someone in common, someone I trusted, made me feel better about talking to him. I relaxed.

I still had to get to the gym so I finished up and said goodnight. I grabbed his card, still on the table (never know when you’re gonna need one of those, right?), and shoved it in my purse and left.

The next morning, I called our mutual acquaintance to ask about Binder Guy. She laughed and told me she had just gotten off the phone with him, that he called her to ask about me. (I found out later that he ran me to see if I had a record.) She had nothing but wonderful things to say about him. He was the nicest man she ever met.

And up until that point, I hadn’t exactly dated a whole slew of the Nice Guys. So I drove by the Taco Bell a night or two later to see if he was there and when I saw him I parked and went in. (Now who’s the stalker here?) We laughed about checking up on each other and chatted for a bit. This continued a few nights until I finally gave him my phone number.

We spent about three or fours months talking, either in person or on the phone, and I feel like we really got to know each other. And as much as we liked each other, we both had reservations. Me: he’s a cop, he’s been married and divorced, he has kids. Him: he’s a cop, I’ve never been married and I didn’t have kids. Plus, there was that 15-year age difference that seemed to be a big obstacle. So we didn’t date.

But we talked about dating. And we talked about all the reasons we probably shouldn’t date. Then we agreed that it would be okay to meet for coffee when he was near my office for work. (His work brought him to the building next door to my office on a regular basis). But I’d make a million excuses about why I couldn’t possibly meet him and bail right before he showed up.

And then he stopped calling.

I had stood him up so many times that he got the message that I wasn’t interested.

Except I was.

And after a couple of weeks of not talking to him, I very much wanted to talk to him. So I drove to Taco Bell one night and asked him why he stopped calling. And when he pointed out the obvious, I realized how stupid this whole thing had become and we agreed that it was okay to hang out because we obviously liked each other and had fun when we talked and it didn’t have to be anything, right?

So we made plans to go out one night. But it wasn’t a date. In fact, we went out of our way to make sure it wasn’t going to be date-like. We went to a Cuban restaurant in town that’s famous for its garlic chicken. It’s so overpowering, that the garlic comes out of your pores for days. And there were black beans and, well, you know how THAT goes. We were that committed to making sure it was just a casual un-romantic dinner.

After dinner we went back to his apartment and talked until 4:00 in the morning. I was supposed to meet a friend at 8:00 a.m. in Orange County to go for a bike ride, so I reluctantly got up to leave. He walked me to my car, told me he had a great time and…nothing. I got in the car without so much as a goodnight kiss.

Because it wasn’t a date.

But a few weeks later, we were both over the not-dating crap and decided to date. And we did…until we set the date. And got married four years later.

Check out more Spin Cycles on Dating over at Sprite’s Keeper.

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17 Responses

  1. Oh, I like this! You’ve got a great dating story! And to think it all started with a tostada! You’re linked!

  2. Just to clarify: Bill’s blue eyes were the deepest, most amazing blue eyes you’d ever seen because you still hadn’t met me yet, right?

  3. I mean as if I even need to ask.

  4. Brass balls at that, eh? 😉 And I love how he stopped calling – except you actually WERE still interested.

    Such a cute get-together story – I might have to write mine up one day… *snort* I hope!!

  5. I loved reading this story! I love how you were “not going to date”. Riiiiiight. As if it wasn’t painfully obvious to us readers!

  6. Wait … you can rock a step class after snarfing down Taco-Bell? (Oh and this is a very cute, cute story)

  7. I had the same reaction as XUP. Exercise AFTER eating? That’s way more interesting than how I met my husband. He sat in the cubicle next to me at work. I think we would have dated sooner if it hadn’t been for our 15 year age gap, too.

  8. Cute story!

  9. I love this story!!!!!! Great spin!

  10. hee hee. I liked “Serial Killer Until Proven Otherwise”

    • Thank you! I was hoping someone would comment on that. Maybe that’s why I hadn’t dated a ton of nice guys until then. They were afraid of me!

  11. Great post! This story is wonderful.

  12. Fun story! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

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