...his back was to me.
He was leaning over the sports desk at our college paper, cleaning out the debris of the recently-fired sports editor. My friend, Leslie, and I had found a strategic spot after we heard he'd come in, and were peering at him, one at a time through the crack behind the production room door. It's not like we thought of him as "fresh meat" exactly (regardless of what the photography staff kept saying). It's just that we were interested. He was the new sports editor, and the layout and production staff would be working closely with him on his section. It was our business to see how he measured up. And from what we could tell, he measured up pretty well.
He was wearing blue jeans and a black jacket, in style but conservative. He had broad shoulders and almost military-cut brown hair. He didn't have the look of a fraternity boy, which suited us both just fine: fraternity boys never took the paper seriously. And they were incredible snobs. We decided he didn't look like the party-animal sort (if you could tell by his back), but he wasn't a geek, either. He did look serious, though. At least he seemed determined to not turn toward where we knew he knew we were hiding behind the door. (There was no way he didn't hear us giggling and whispering.) And, even when we made some excuse to come out from hiding and walk through the editors' office, he didn't turn around to greet us ~ or even look at us. He wasn't even curious! (Indeed!)
But we were. We had to get a look at his face or it was just going to kill us! So we meandered up front and loitered around the receptionist's desk, figuring that he had to eventually pass by there to get out of the building. And he did pass by, (in a rush, I think to escape us) just as our editor-in-chief came in. She said something to him, and he turned around at the door and smiled. Oh my! What straight, white teeth he had. And soft brown eyes.
A nice, honest face.
Almost right away, I looked for that face whenever I came to the office. Leslie thought he was nice, but a little dull for her, which was cool by me, because I didn't want the competition. I was interested in this new sports editor, and wanted to know more about him. He was so mysterious. He hardly ever talked to the rest of the staff; he didn't join us around the Coke machine or play along with the pica-ruler swordfights. All he ever did was work! Sheesh. But his presence in the office brought a sense of calm and order. He was distant, but polite, and he got the work done. And he put out the best sports section our paper had seen in a long time. He was always on time with his copy, and he even typeset it himself. He was the perfect co-worker. But frustrating. Gah! How could you get to know a guy who wouldn't talk to you except to explain how he wanted his box-scores arranged?
But, I did get to know him pretty well. We worked together for a year, putting a paper out twice a week, and during that time I learned that he was: A) consistent, B) trustworthy, C) hard-working D) incredibly smart, E) politically conservative (bless him), F) naturally kind, G) quietly self confident, but, H) very busy and pointedly reserved.
Ah, well. I kept trying. I showed up whenever I thought he'd be there, worked hard on his sports section, and tried hard not to put his swimmer photos in upside down... And he remained cordial, verging on friendly, but nothing else.
By the end of our first year working together, the paper hired a new staff member, a young man who worked with me to produce the paper. (This was before computer pagination; we laid the whole newspaper out by hand on light tables in those days ~ the dark ages of newspaper production...) The new guy's name was Eddy, and he was smart, artistic, and full of life ~ so fun and sociable. He and I got to be pretty good friends rubbing elbows at the light tables, and I knew he liked me. With Eddy it was hard to miss. And I liked him; how could I not? I had never lost interest, mind you, in my serious-minded sports editor, but a girl can only wait so long for a little encouragement, ya know? And, in this situation, Eddie was the bird in the hand, while the bird in the bush was too busy typing up hockey stories to notice me. My heart still skipped a beat whenever he came into the room, but it seemed pretty obvious that he wasn't interested in me. Or at least that's what I thought.
One night, we were burning the midnight oil to get a paper out, and I needed to go across campus to get some paperwork or something. I had no car, so had to walk, and it was way late, so I hollared out for a volunteer to please "escort me through yon dragon-ridden forest." ( Or something like that...) But, everyone was too busy to come with me, and it was late, and they were tired, so, alas, I headed out into the darkness alone. =sigh=
But, all was not lost...
I had just gotten to the edge of the campus gardens when I heard a door slam, and then the sound of running feet, and there through the dark came Eddy to my rescue. "I'll come with you, Lisa!" he called. Then, another slam, and more running feet, and who should appear, but my sports editor, Dan! (Can you imagine my shock?) "No, I'm going with her," he said. And both running toward me, they wound up practically under my nose (Dan was faster by a good few strides), almost colliding with each other and with me!
Eddy took my arm, said something to the effect of, "You snooze, you lose, Dan." And I don't know what Dan said, but he grabbed me around the waist, hoisted me over his shoulder, and ran into the garden.
And, Eddy, instead of chasing, watched us go. I watched him as he watched us. He knew Dan had won.
And so he had.
Or, rather, I had.
All these years later, my husband is still a man of surprises.
And I love him with all my heart.
Happy Anniversary, Dan.
I can't believe it's been 22 years; it seems like just yesterday.