On My 19th Anniversary | How I Met Your Father
Here’s a different kind of wedding photo for you guys – MINE! Our wedding was 19 years ago today and this is the only photo we have of us in our wedding attire. It’s a long, sad story of not hiring a real professional and getting back roll after roll of film so underexposed that it could not be saved. So the next weekend, we got back into our wedding clothes and went to the park with my Mama and an old 35mm film camera. This is my favorite, and really the only one that turned out – me in a tiara and he in his Air Force Blues. (It was the 90’s folks – tiaras were in) Many thanks to @theFINDlab for this beautiful scan!
ANYWAY, people always want to know how we met and I’d like to tell the story today as a tribute to the man I married.
I met my husband at a restaurant-bar, where I thought I was hiding out on an evening alone. I was sitting at the bar watching my best friend, the lead bar tender, serve up beer after margarita after beer. It was a Bennigan’s on a Saturday night. Absolutely nothing special – me even less so in my old jeans, an ugly gray sweater and yesterday’s mascara. The girl next to me was a casual acquaintance and she was just chatting away at this guy next to her who was eating dinner alone at the bar, wearing a tie. The tie was a real standout – like, what the heck is this guy doing on a Saturday night wearing a tie and eating his dinner alone at the bar of a Bennigan’s? Anyway, this guy leaned over so he could see me across this girl who was talking his ear off and, out of the blue, asked my name and what I did for a living. I looked up, kind of shocked and straight up replied, “I run an office and I have an 18 month old”. (For those of you who missed out on getting hit on as a single mother at the ripe old age of 21, this is code for “Move along, Buddy, there’s nothing to see here”) This line worked like a charm to get any and all guys with less than noble intentions off my case. And let’s be honest here – sitting at the bar in a Bennigan’s meant that was pretty much all of them. Also, I’ve never been the flirt-with-strangers type anyway so this line was perfectly polite while also making it completely clear that my family situation was not what they were looking for.
Anyway, back to the point. I delivered my well-rehearsed line and he just looked back and me and said “Okay! What else do you do?” or something like that. I probably just sat there with my mouth open – I’m not exactly sure. I know I was completely unprepared to respond to his apparent lack of concern that I had a TODDLER. We aren’t talking a sweet Kindergartener, here. We’re talking a full-on sprinting, laughing, crying, so-smart-it-hurts, loving, sometimes pinching, diaper-wearing, tornado of a child. So we talked back and forth over and around this girl and the whole time I was becoming increasingly aware of how awful I looked. (He had a shirt and tie on, don’t forget). I mean, I had a KID! I had NO intention of meeting a “someone,” especially at the bar of a Bennigan’s, and as you’ve learned, I was completely prepared to dismiss any man outright. I had not even remotely attempted to make myself look what would have been considered attractive. I was just hanging out at Bennigan’s on a weekend when my baby boy was with his grandparents.
Eventually, it was kind of time to leave the bar. So I invited him and some other people I was acquaintances with – literally I don’t even remember who all these other people were, I just knew I wasn’t going anywhere alone with a stranger – to go play pool, which I”ll openly admit I claimed to be fairly bad at. We (obviously) took separate cars and played a few games of pool, where I showed up a little better than expected, I think. (*innocent smile* I mean, what? My Daddy taught me to play.) Anyway, at the end of the evening, I think I gave him my pager number or something (hahahahahaha) and he asked to have dinner the next night. I said “Sure, but I’ll be bringing my little boy” (thinking – we’ll just get this done and over with) and he responded like that was just the greatest thing ever. I was legitimately confused. What guy wanted to be around a girl with a toddler?!
Fast forward to dinner the next night. Chili’s. Tired toddler. Me and this guy. Dinner goes pretty well, and we get up to go. Toddler boy is restless so we all walk together to the bookstore a few doors down. All is well for exactly 5 minutes at which time Toddler has reached Maximum. Maximum what, you ask. Now, if you’re asking that question you’ve never had a toddler. All toddler parents out there know what I mean. Anyway, my precious boy is maxed out from a long weekend away from his Mama and now dinner out. And when it goes to hell with a toddler, it goes to hell quick, folks. My sweet little babe became POSSESSED. He was crying and screaming and laying on the floor in an inconsolable heap. Every toddler has tantrums, sure. This wasn’t one of those. This was something else. I turned to look over at this guy, expecting him to be on his way out the door. But instead he just stood there watching, asking me what he could do. He wasn’t panicking. He wasn’t running. I guessed to myself that he was just being polite at this point – how nice, right? So I picked up my precious but currently screaming-bloody-murder baby boy and calmly carried him out of the bookstore as he was simultaneously thrashing and going limp. Everyone was staring – and I do mean EVERYONE. And I knew it was over with this guy.
I carried my sweet boy to the car and strapped him in his seat, him still sobbing, me on the verge of tears. I turned and said something to the effect of “Hey, thank you so much for giving it a shot. I had a really nice time. Maybe I’ll see you around some time.” But by the time I fumbled through that sentence, the crying stopped, my sweet babe was asleep in his carseat and this guy had somehow convinced me that a drive around town would soothe him and allow him to stay asleep for at least a little while before I would need to attempt to get him out of his seat into my apartment. So we did. I drove and we talked. We drove through the fancy neighborhood and looked at the lights on the big houses – dreams too big to seem real from the small apartment world we both lived in. And baby boy slept like an angel.
Needless to say, we went out on a date the next weekend. And the next. And the one after that. Until he asked us to marry him. @budholtfort was truly in love with this little ready-made family. And he’s made every sacrifice along the way without a second thought. He changed the course of his career, turned down dream assignments and has done everything in the name of his family since the day we met. We have built a life together that we couldn’t even have dreamed of way back then and I couldn’t be more grateful for his sacrifice – for me, for the kids and for our country. This man is one of a kind. And he’s mine.
I love you, Babe.