When I was 22 years old and fresh out of college, I met Mark. I was a Page on the set of The Young and the Restless and he sauntered up to me with a notepad and pen.
“Write down your name and phone number. I’m taking you water skiing.”
I wasn’t amused.
“Ummm, NO. Who are you?”
“I’m Mark.” He licked his finger and smoothed it across his eyebrow, eyeing me with a big grin on his face.
“You’re cute. What’s your name?” he said as he shoved the notepad back in my face. He had the self-assurance of a guy who’d never been refused.
“I have a name tag on”, I said flippantly, “and I don’t give my number to just anybody, especially some guy with freshly licked eyebrows! Does this actually work for you?”
Wow. No one had ever asked for my number so blatantly. Not even a “Hi, how are you? What’s your sign?” Just “Write your number down.” Did he think he could get a girl to go out with him by arrogantly demanding it? Apparently, he did! Well, not with me. I didn’t care if I ever saw him again.
“Where do you live, name tag?”
“Really? If I’m not going to give you my number, I’m not going to tell you where I live.”
He seemed genuinely baffled by my blatant lack of interest, but that didn’t stop him. My refusal to participate in his “too appealing to reject” scheme only fueled his motivation to crack me.
Game on, Mr. Cocky Pants!
And so the adventure began.
Mark worked remarkably hard for several months to charm the pants off me, literally, and used every trick up his sleeve to get into my good graces. He sent me absurd notes. He brought me silly gifts. He arranged “living rooms” using stage props and created romantic lunches in the back corners of soap opera sets. After 12 hour days, he’d drive 60 miles home and back just to shower and change so he could hang out with me when I got off work.
And then one day, worn down by his non-stop parade of ridiculously entertaining antics, I agreed to an official date. At the end of the evening, I shook his hand good night. He took it well.
We were married for 26 years before he passed away in 2010.
I can’t help but smile when I think of that time. We got to know each other little by little, silly moment by silly moment, and he “courted” me in the most amazing way. There was no rush, agenda or expectation but to enjoy the game. We only wanted to amuse each other! When I realized I couldn’t go a day without missing him, I knew I was hooked. He was the best man I’ve ever known.
What happened to playing like that? What happened to the art of liking someone, without all the other nonsense getting in the way?! The art of taking your time, being curious, savoring the fun, having some mystery, pulling back the privacy curtain only when your trust has grown? What happened to being okay with not knowing what might happen next?
These days, we know too much too soon about each other and have a strange familiarity without any of the grace of true connection that comes with time. Our lives are plastered on social media, with bios and pictures and front page feelings! There’s little space for discovery or missing someone because technology makes us all endlessly available. If you’re not . . . NEXT!
I know I sound like an old fart, and I am, but so much fun is missed along the way when we rush through it all and stay narrowly focused on getting to the next person, goal, desire or conquest. It’s a cliché but, life IS the journey.
Remember how good it feels to play?! To slow down and feel the sweetness of life; to find reasons to laugh out loud; the benefit to our souls when we take the time to put the phone down, look someone in the eyes and show them they’re heard, wanted and LIKED!
Sometimes we’re so busy pursuing the big dreams, we miss the little ones that make life worth living.
We’d be so much less stressed if we played a little more and enjoyed what’s happening right now, not just what we hope will happen tomorrow, next week or a year from now.
Don’t keep missing big chunks of your life because your head’s down, surviving the days. Find what you like. Find who you like. Play a little. Hell, play a lot!
Take time to court each other. Keep nurturing the love you have for yourself and others in unexpected and fun ways. It’s the most worthwhile thing you’ll ever do. This is where the warm and satisfying moments are. The moments that make your heart flutter. The moments that make you grin from the bottom of your toes to the top of your head. The moments that fill you with tenderness. The moments that make all the other difficult stuff feel easier to get through.
I was lucky enough to have someone who valued those moments and valued them with me. Who knew that self-assured boy with freshly licked eyebrows would be the love of my life.
If we hadn’t taken the time to play, we might have missed it.