When people ask us, "How did you meet?" we pause while we try to gauge just how much interest the person has in our story. If she's being polite, she'll get the short version: "We met through friends after college."
But here's the real story:
Part 1: Memorial Day Weekend
Dave and I first met at a party two years after I graduated from college in 1998. I was talking to his friend Mike, and Dave tried to join our conversation by throwing out a few friendly openers. I smiled but kept quiet.
He was exactly my type: wavy brown hair, blue eyes and a great smile. But I was shy and assumed that Dave was talking to me only because he wanted to talk to Mike. So I tried to shrink myself out of the conversation by not joining in.
After a couple of affable tries, Dave left. But he didn't give up. Five minutes later, the opening riff of theRolling Stones'"Start Me Up" blasted through the room at full volume.
Hips thrusting and with zero inhibition, Dave achieved the most ardent Mick Jagger impersonation ever done. He strutted. He sang. There was even a back flip off the coffee table. It was like a flash mob of one.
His performance elicited wild applause from the partygoers. But as he inched closer, I was terrified that he would try to draw me in. So I hid in the kitchen.
Part 2: Two weeks later
Since my dating life was at a standstill, I decided to organize a wine tasting trip. I sent out an email to everyone I knew and told them to invite all of their friends.
Twenty-five people showed up, many of them strangers. But one of them was Dave.
I sat next to my friend Shannon. Dave chose the seat in front of me but kept turning around to chat. Naturally, our talk turned to food, wine and the great joy of eating.
"You know, out of everything in the whole world, chocolate is still my favorite treat."
"What kind of chocolate?" Dave asked.
"Hershey'schocolate kisses are the best," I replied.
I remember the day was warm and the vineyards were verdant. The strangers were all best buddies by early afternoon. Even though the trip didn't help my dating life, I gave myself excellent marks for hosting.
Part 3: Six months later
A college reunion was underway at my favorite bar, and I was optimistic about the possibilities. Surely someone in the place would want to date me?
Shortly after I arrived with my friend Kelsey, Dave wandered over to say hi. He asked about what I'd been up to, then said, "I'm working in TV now. ... Let me give you one of my cards." I put it in my purse. After a few more minutes, Kelsey and I moved on.
Several cocktails later, I was chatting with a potential suitor. He wasn't a great conversationalist, but he asked for my number. I needed something to write on, so I fished around in my tiny purse and found a business card. After scrawling my number on the back, I handed it over and went home.
Meanwhile, at closing time, two people were waiting for cabs. One was Dave. The other guy was so drunk he was swaying. To pass time, Dave struck up a conversation. Finally, he said, "By the way, my name is Dave Lockhart."
"Hmm… why does that name sound so familiar?"
After some intense thought, the guy dug into his pocket and triumphantly pulled out a crumpled business card.
"Hey!" he said. "I do know your name! Some girl used your card to give me her number!"
Dave was not thrilled.
Part 4: The following Monday
At 9:01 a.m., I got an email from Kelsey.
"Dave told Mike that he met a dude on Friday night who said that a girl used his business card to give out her number. Dave only gave out his card to two people that night, you and me. He thinks that I'm the one who did it."
"Really?" I exclaimed. "That is hilarious! What are the odds?"
"It is not hilarious," she hissed. "It was rude, and you have to confess that you did it. "
I'd been thinking of myself as an exceptionally gracious person, sort of a younger Miss Manners. I didn't want to mar my new self-image. I decided to make it up to him.
Part 5: Apologies
The next weekend, I assembled Dave, Mike and Kelsey for a night of tequila shots at a club where the patrons were celebrating Mardi Gras and watching a floor show.
But I wasn't the girl who hid in a kitchen anymore. Now I liked to join in the festivities, too.
In that spirit, Dave and I sneaked into the dancers' dressing room and "borrowed" a blue sequined vest and a shiny white cowboy hat. Then, for no apparent reason, I climbed on stage with the near-naked samba dancers and tried to follow along. I was so captivated by the feather headdresses and silver sequin bikinis that I couldn't have cared less about the crowd. Finally, Dave and I were in sync.
Part 6: The first date
Two days later, Dave invited me to sushi and a movie. When I opened the door, he handed me a brown paper bag. To my surprise, it was filled with Hershey's chocolate kisses.
"How did you know that I love these?" I asked.
"Because you told me," he said. "On the bus, last year, you said that chocolate kisses were your favorite."
It took a minute. And then, just like they do in cheesy movies, I mentally reviewed the highlight reel of scenes from the past: the Memorial Day weekend party, the Mick Jagger imitation, the bus trip, the business card, the dressing room.
Right then and there, I decided to stop wondering when I was going to meet someone in the future, and start paying attention to the present.
It worked. We just celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary. Thank God he got my attention with chocolate.
Ironically, Lockhart is a dating coach in Los Angeles.
L.A. Affairs chronicles romance and relationships. Past columns are archived at latimes.com/laaffairs. If you have comments to share or a story to tell, write us at firstname.lastname@example.org