Let me introduce you to Joey, the bravest man in the universe. Why? Because he married me.
We met on a blind date. It was his first blind date ever, and my second blind date ever. The first one was so bad that I almost had to be dragged kicking and screaming to meet Joey. A mutual friend set us up...he was supposed to meet us an an Applebee's after work and (of course) was late meeting us. I was highly pissed off and I was glaring out the window for my blind date that was sure to be a jackass of monumental proportions when I saw this guy sprinting across the parking lot. I turned to my friend Debbie and said, "Wow, that guy is cute!" and she looked at me grinning and said "That's him!" Seven hours and three restaurants later, he drove me back to my car and I gave him my business card with my home number written on it. Ask him about our first night, and he will always say that he was totally astonished that I didn't even give him a peck on the cheek when the night was over. I think he's still a little pissed off about that.
That weekend, I went home to be with my dad for Father's Day, and as I was standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes I announced to my parents that I had met the man I was going to marry. I believe there was probably a bunch of eye-rolling behind my back because as my track record would attest, Joey's chances were probably pretty slim in their eyes and they weren't going to get the family silver engraved anytime soon.
I believe it was our second or third date when I invited him to come to my apartment for dinner and ended up springing almost my entire family on him. He was such an amazingly good sport about the whole thing that I was immediately impressed. I mean, he ended up sandwiched between my two nephews and my brother-in-law, and if that isn't love then I don't know what is. I think it was that night that we did the deed for the first time, because after making him go through that ordeal I figured the least I could do was hook a brother up, right?
The next year flew by - we got to be not only boyfriend/girlfriend, but best friends too. I had never met someone in my entire life that I clicked so well with on pretty much every level. Of course, we did have a few rough moments like the night he didn't show up at my house after an office party and ended up banging on my window at 2:30 AM howling at the top of his lungs, "Liiiiiz, let me iiiiiin, I loooooove yooooooou...."
On the week of our one-year dating "anniversary", we took a vacation together to Asheville, North Carolina for a week. We hiked, played golf, did some sightseeing...and the whole time, I was convinced that he was going to ask me to marry him. I mean, come on - we'd been together a year, neither of us were getting any younger...but he didn't. We rode home in the car together at the end of the week and I barely said two words to him the entire time. Finally he asked me what was wrong, and I indignantly sputtered, "I thought you were going to ask me to marry you!" "Um, whatever gave you THAT idea?" he asked.
He did ask - about two months later when he found out that I was moving out of my shared house and was looking for a new apartment. I think it was one of the most practical proposals I've ever heard of...we were sitting in the Arby's across from his house when he looked at me and said, "Why don't we just get married?" "Um, okay," I said. And the rest was history.
Joey is an amazing person. He grew up in a home with an alcoholic father who some years was out on the road in other states working, a mother who worked full-time trying to keep the familly going, and a younger brother. They didn't have much in the way of luxuries, but they had everything they needed to survive. He paid for his own college and spending money the entire time he was in school. He was the first college graduate in his family and the first to have a white-collar job. He is now part-owner of a multi-million dollar company. He has done amazingly well for himself and I couldn't be prouder of him.
Back in 1990, he was almost killed in a car accident when he was hit head-on by a man doing over 60 MPH. They didn't think he was going to make it. And I'm not a hugely religious person, but I firmly believe to this day that someone up there saved his life so that he could be my husband and Monkey Man's dad. Well, that and the fact that he has a super-hard head that probably saved him too.
I think the one thing that has always set Joey apart from the rest of the world is his enormous heart. You will rarely meet another person with the same level of caring about everything and everyone in his life. And he has an infectious smile - the first thing I noticed about him the night we met was that he had laugh lines around his eyes, and as I told my mom later, "I knew when I saw those laugh lines that he had a big heart."
Now, he's not perfect. He's a bit of a workaholic, he tends to watch a little too much television, sometimes he can bring home a bad attitude from work, he has the whole toenail trimming thing...but honestly, I can handle all of that.
He is an amazing dad to Monkey Man. Who else will withstand being kneed in the balls by Little Hulk Hogan over and over again? Who will snuggle with Monkey Man and watch Power Rangers and discuss the social significance of Transformers? Sometimes I watch him and I am amazed at the qualities that Monkey Man brings out in him at the most unexpected times.
And most significantly, he puts up with me. Little Miss High-Maintenance, Never-Good-Enough-For-Me, Don't-Mess-Up-My-Hair. I honestly don't know how he does it. His generosity, kindness, and love are boundless, and I even though I don't say it every day, I am so thankful to have him in my life.
December 28th will be our ten-year anniversary. We have known each other almost 11 years and sometimes it seems like just yesterday when I saw that cute blond guy in the royal blue Polo shirt sprinting across the parking lot.
Thanks, honey. Thanks for putting up with all of my crap and being my bestest friend in the entire world. And also for never revealing our stupid nicknames for each other. Then we might have to talk.