It didn’t start out that way. We met each other on different days. Both impressions were not good.
He met me at an audition for a college music group. I met him a few days later at his sign-up table for the ministry team he was leading once a week on Tuesdays to reach out to troubled teens in a nearby town. I was sick at the audition, and a new student, and apparently came across snobbish. I don’t remember anything about it besides wanting to go to bed. I wasn’t snobbish. I’ve never been snobbish. I was sick and scared.
I met him a few days later after students ministry leaders had presented their ministries to all of the students during chapel. He is the only one who stood out to me. He ran up to the stage in his Marine uniform and gave an inspirational speech about the group he was forming. I don’t remember much about what he said besides thinking “there’s a real man”. He was also the only one who seemed confident speaking in front of a crowd. That impressed me. My roommate, Laura elbowed me and whispered “he’s cute” and we decided to check out his table and meet him.
So I met him for the first time but it was his SECOND time to meet me and he promptly informed me that I didn’t fit the profile for his team. You’ve got to be kidding me! Who was this guy to turn down ME? Okay, so maybe I was a little snobbish. I can’t remember his exact words, but I had just transferred from a southern college with my roomy Laura and we dressed and carried ourselves very differently than the Santa Cruz “anything goes” students in sweats and t-shirts. He made me mad. I felt judged. How did he know whether or not I could connect with teens.
So Laura and I joined his group with reservation. I spent the next few months working out the details for the group. Very task oriented. I got drinks, cups, napkins, etc donated so we could meet these kids during their lunch out in the back parking lot of a church near their high school. They came to smoke and to buy and sell drugs. We set up tables and offered free drinks, pizza by the slice for 50 cents, and people to talk to.
I admit, I didn’t really connect with the teens at that time (although they are my favorite people in the world now), but I helped with the foundation of keeping them coming. “He” tried to lead us in worship from his guitar as we met for prayer in the church before the students arrived. I cringed as he hit wrong notes. “Why doesn’t he PRACTICE?” I thought each time we met. He drove me crazy. He was a cocky “know it all”.
But he was totally sweet to everyone on the team except me. What a jerk!
I gave up. I’m tough but I do have feelings and the rejection from my ministry group leader was too much. Nothing I did seemed to break his shell.
One day at school, during lunch, I went to his table of “the brotherhood” (that’s another story) and said I needed to talk to him. The brothers all hooted and hollered as if this was GOOD. A pretty girl wants to talk to you ALONE! We spent the next FIVE HOURS sitting at a table in the dining room getting to know each other. We found that we had a lot in common and actually liked each other.
We chatted about life and ministry. He seemed happy to be out with me, actually thrilled might be a better word. What a change. After small talk I proceeded to tell him that I had decided to withdraw from his ministry team because I felt that the constant tension between us was very unhealthy on the team and the students. I had already committed to another team, a music group that traveled to churches and youth groups on Sundays and Wednesday nights. He tried to persuade me to stay which baffled me. Why was he changing his tune?
And the truth came out.
He thought I was “out of his league”. So that gave him a reason to talk down to me? You’d think he’d have figured out by now that I’m a poor college student who wore the same mix and match blouses and blazers, slacks and skirts. But I wore makeup, had the 80’s bleached permed big hair, paid attention to my nails and dressed like a business student. I also had a car, a ’79 Toyota Corolla.
Here’s the deal. He secretly liked me. He desperately wanted to end up with someone like me. But he didn’t think he matched up. I sang and played the piano, was good with people, successfully managed projects and presented myself well. But he was a Marine, a college students, a competent and inspirational public speaker and a ministry leader. What’s to compare? Why is it that boys dip your pigtails in the ink well when they like you. It baffles me.
So I left his group and joined another one, and he and I started a friendship that would grow for 25 years…