After accepting Keith’s proposal to try again, we started dating in earnest and were quickly a couple.
It wasn’t long before we were wildly in love and experiencing the kind of absolute certainty about our pairing that convinced us that we’d won some kind of Cosmic Love Lottery. We were blissed out in a way I’m not sure I’ll ever experience again unless I start recreationally using Benzos.
The story below ends in us saying “I love you,” but before it gets there and before I tell the “falling in love” part of the beginning of our relationship– which I’ll need a brain bleach to re-live– there’s one last “he seems like kind of a douchebag” story. Of course, he wasn’t actually a douchebag, despite all evidence presented so far, or I wouldn’t have fallen in love with him.
However, the early days had important information I didn’t fully appreciate, so I share the unsavory stuff because it ultimately turned out to be very important and, well, foreshadowing.
Despite our quick march toward bliss, there were still more early bumps–namely his constant need to point out how much every woman we passed on the street or saw across the bar wanted to fuck him, and a similarly foul persistence in trying to get me to use the Sephora employee discount of a girl he’d slept with shortly before meeting me (thanks, but I like my makeup without a side of snatch).
And his drinking. Oh, his drinking.
The “other women want me” stuff was, I believed, a purposeful effort to control my image of him, to be sure I saw him as a hot commodity that I was lucky to have and to make me feel insecure. Keith was super handsome, something I appreciated very much and had no doubt other women appreciated, too, but I was still, objectively, the one in our pairing with more social capital and I knew it.
The real luck then was his, for I attributed this obnoxious behavior not to him being a giant asshole, but rather as an unfortunate response to all the damage done to his masculinity and self-worth by his vicious ex-wife (we’ll meet her later) and the need now to prove himself.
But I still didn’t excuse it and, sad reasons for his behavior aside, this attempt to stifle my confidence died a quick death as he learned that I was not the one for this bullshit. The End.
Then the drinking.
Early on, he only drank when we went out on the weekends specifically to drink and dance. The problem was that once he started drinking, he couldn’t stop and it seemed to hit him all at once and HARD. I worried about this, but believed that his extreme reaction was due more to the gastric bypass (booze bypasses the stomach and goes right to the bloodstream) and less about quantity consumed, though he was definitely drinking too much.
With that in mind, I was somewhat forgiving when, the first time he ever met my friends–and despite my request to please moderate his drinking for the occasion–he got so incapacitated in a busy club that one of my male friends had to lift him off his feet and carry him through a sea of curious people while I followed, embarrassed not only at the public scene, but that my friends must now believe that I was dating a maniac.
My friend got us outside and kindly assured me that no one was judging us, that Keith seemed like a nice guy who just didn’t know when to give it a rest with the booze and that “we’ve all been there.” He got Keith on his feet and I took it from there.
We got to my car quietly, focused mostly on keeping him steady. Then, as I opened the passenger door to usher him in, I said, “Listen, I love you, but you have got to stop getting this drunk.”
It was just a figure of speech, but Drunk Keith heard “I love you,” gasped, his eye filled with tears, and then, like Sally Field accepting an Oscar, he said, “You LOVE me?!?”
This was Thanksgiving Eve and the next day I was spending the holiday with and meeting his whole family for the first time, including his children. This was the cusp of a big step and I was excited and emotional. I looked at his stupid drunken face and realized that I actually did love him. I confirmed, “Yes, I love you.” Then he told me he loved me, too.”Do you understand how much I love you? I want to marry you!” He’d known for weeks, he said, but was waiting for me to say I love you first so he wouldn’t he’d scare me away.
As we drove home, the realization that HOLY FUCK I WAS IN LOVE and someone was in love with me in return hit me hard. I just kept saying, “I love you!” “I’m in love with you!” “I’m totally, super in love with you!” And from the passenger seat he cried and cried.
The next day, we arrived at Thanksgiving, a force of love and affection and deviled eggs. Two people in love, committed, a now permanent couple there to introduce themselves to all the important people in Keith’s life. It was a day of familial bliss and ultimately the most important day of my life, though I didn’t know it then, because it was the day I met his children.
That’s it’s own story, of course, but this day was the happy ending of the rough beginning and also the beginning of the one of the happiest times of my life.
Next: Prepare Your Buckets because the loooovefest is coming!