The Six-Year Date

“You’re the last of a dying breed,” is what I told him after realizing that he was the perfect example of something I couldn’t have. I wouldn’t call it settling. It’s more of a compromise.

Have you ever met someone who would make the perfect husband, yet doesn’t want to be tied down?
I have. A freedom about him gives you the push you need to fly. He’s that extra strength that you need to open that jar of pent up feelings. He is the date that your father never got the chance to meet.

Here’s to the perfect example of what all men should be.

I met him when I was sixteen, a few years after my tomboy phase and half of a decade past my father’s death. You see, I never got the opportunity to know how a real date should look. I took enough money to pay for my meal and kept my sis on speed dial in case I needed backup.

Only I didn’t need either of those. He was the mom-meeting, door-opening, and chair-pulling type of guy. I loved him for that.

New movies. New food.

We never went to the same place twice. It helped that I didn’t get out much. All of the time I spent inside of a book, he spent outside. The books gave me something to share. His travel gave him somewhere to take me. I never complained. I was indecisive and he chose my meals. There wasn’t a controlling bone in his body. He gave me the freedom to choose. However, he was a planner. He knew exactly what we were doing, a week in advanced and gave me clothing suggestions based on our future outing.

The first date was dinner and a movie. There was a quiet café downtown, which he knew I would love. I was pretty much game for anything. I love food. I let him order for me. We talked for hours. 8 o’clock turned into 10 o’clock rather quickly. If I were to get home before 12, we would have to be leaving soon.

He never missed a curfew. I think that’s why mom respected him so much. She didn’t have to worry when I was with him. As long as I got home safely, everything was fine.

The next date landed us at Perkins. There was a breakfast menu to die for and I had no complaints. All was well until it was time to pay the bill. He couldn’t find his wallet.

“I probably just left it in the car. I’ll be back”

The hostess began to worry.

“Are you sure he’s still out there? Maybe he needs you to pay it.”
Lady, who hurt you?
“He’ll be back.”
Before I had the chance to get annoyed with her lack of faith in men, in he walked carrying his wallet. He smiled as he kissed me on the forehead. “Told you I’d be back.”

That was the last time we saw each other as teenagers. He joined the military. I went off to college. He got married.

Fast Forward 2 Years

Ever been lying awake in bed with someone on your mind and all of a sudden your phone rings? You lie there in a panic. Could that be them? It can’t be. The universe can’t be this good.

It was 3 am and my phone rang. My roommate was asleep. I answered. The voice on the other end reminded me of a time I could never forget. He wanted to talk. We spent the next few hours catching up and talking about old times. We talked about our problems, he the stresses of the military and I the stresses of college. I honestly never expected to hear from him again. That was a pleasant surprise. One hour turned into five and we both had things to do. I had an 8 o’clock class to get to and he had to be at work. We said our goodbyes and promised to keep in touch.

Fast Forward to Thanksgiving 2010

“I’m in town, want to meet up?” he texted me.

That drive was the longest ten minutes of my life. I couldn’t get there quick enough. I was just excited to see him.

I pulled up; he stood outside with his son.

“Who might this be?”
“You remember him”
“Yea I do. He looks just like you now.”
He had to be about five. Makes mental note about how hold we’re getting.

He was a father, and I was still missing mine.

By 10pm, I received a text. He asked how long it had been since I’d been on a date. Way too long. I hadn’t been out since the last time he took me. Guys didn’t date much anymore and I began to take it to heart. He made it his mission to keep that from happening. My mind refused to let this thought pass. I sent another message.

“What’s up?”
“You still married?”
“No I’m not.”
“K. Just checking. I can’t be dating someone’s husband.”
“You’re safe. Don’t worry.”

I thank him for showing me that men still know how to treat a woman and that if I looked hard enough, he might just be standing right in front of me.

He took me to see Paranormal Activity 2. He promised me that it was better than the first and if he were wrong, I would be $50 richer by the end of the night. Bet! I spent the next two hours laughing and jumping out of fear.

“You have a weird sense of humor.”
“I know.”

That night we went to Ruby Tuesdays. It was obvious that it had been a while since we’d gone out. Our conversation was different. We had goals and dreams. There were obstacles in life that we had both encountered. He gave me advice. I shared insight. It was a good night.

Spending the night with him was something I never got the chance to do. He made it happen that night. There was a fear of past break-ins in the house and he made sure I got in safely.

He was the security blanket that I didn’t want taken away from me.
He worked for a country that needed someone to fight for it.
He made himself available and I didn’t like it.
Who was going to fight for me?
He did it so well.

I was sick. He played the piano for me while I wished I could sing for him. My congestion wouldn’t allow that to happen. I bought Vicks Vapo-rub while we were out. He rubbed it on my chest. He opened up a part of me that had been closed for so long. He placed his hand on my heart and it sped up, trying to get his attention. I slept on his chest with his lips on my forehead. He brought new meaning to the forehead kiss. No more searching for temperatures rising, it meant he cared. I was his for the night.

Every year after that, I’ve gotten a cold and my mind wanders back to that night. He took care of me. Nights get cold when there’s no one to kiss your fever away.

Spring Break 2011

It was a long break. We hadn’t seen each other since Thanksgiving. He wanted to take me out and planned the entire thing. We would both drive into Memphis and check into a hotel. Dinner would be at 6pm. We would spend the entire weekend together.

By the time I arrived, I was tired. I decided to finish getting ready for dinner when I got there. We pulled up around the same time. Something was different. He wasn’t alone. We got out of our separate cars. He walked towards me.

“This is my sister. How long will it take you to get ready?”
“About an hour or two.” I was transitioning and had to flat iron my hair.
“My parents want to go to Tunica to eat dinner.”

Instantly, I freaked out. I wasn’t prepared to meet his sister, let alone his parents. I definitely did not pack clothes for meeting the parents. I brought clothing that I knew he would like. I prayed that his mom wouldn’t think I was a hooker.

I assumed he was tired as well. He sat and watched TV while I finished my hair, until he fell asleep. His sister sat and watched me. That made me slightly uncomfortable. I searched for the highest cut, longest dress that I packed. In about an hour and a half, I was ready to go. I woke him up.

“You look good.”
“Thanks, ready to go?”

We got to his parents’ house and they were almost ready. He introduced me to his dad, while his mom is was getting dressed. His dad was at the bar and he offered me a drink. I politely declined.

“You know it’s okay to drink with my dad.”
“I am not drinking with your dad.”
“Suit yourself.”

His father drove and we made it to Tunica in about an hour. We went to a buffet. I chose typical food that anyone would choose being in a new place. He was determined to have me try something different. He got frog legs from the bar and asked me to try one. I did. It did not taste like chicken. It had a freshwater taste, not bad.

He went to gamble with his mom while his father, sister, and I sat at the table. His dad talked to me about school. We talked for about forty minutes before both of our dates returned. I was excited to see where he got his personality. He was the mirror image of his father.

Before leaving his parents’ house, his father talked to us on the porch. He asked our plans for the weekend and if my mom knew that I was home. Of course she didn’t. He talked about doing the exact same thing when he was in college. He told us to be safe and we left.

For the next few hours, we slept. We gave each other space. He had mastered that talent. He knew when to hold on and when to let go. We shared a few hours of sleep divided by moments of love, making that the best night of my life.

The last time I saw him. He met me with open arms. He complimented me on my choice of locs. He thought they fit me really well. Not sure if it had anything to do with his love for Marley, or his connection to nature. He kissed my forehead. He still cares. He placed his Marley necklace around my neck.

“Hold on to this for me”
“I can do that.”

So until next time…

Everyone said I should leave him alone. No one understood what he meant to me. He was representative of what a real date should be. He showed me that real men do exist and that they weren’t too far out of reach.

He would say, “Everyone that you date, isn’t meant to be your husband. People spend so much time trying not to date their friends, when they are usually their best option.”

Out of all the men that I know, he’s special. He holds me to such a standard and treats me like a Queen and we’re just friends. He raised the bar to an almost impossible height for the next guy who comes around. The next guy should be able to do that and so much more. He’s been the perfect date for the past six years. What more could a girl want?

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