Opening The Vault: Part Sixty Nine

When it comes to falling in love, I’ve often found the element of surprise is a big part of it. I learned that lesson all over again after meeting Southern Illinois native Steve back in 2001.

A few weeks before my year-long TV reporting stint was about to end, Steve and I met through this family and went on our first date. Like the day we had met, the chemistry was immediate and effortless. I now Open The Vault and take you back to December of 01…

December 20, 2001
Marion, IL

Dear Diary,

I swore after ending it with Sparky years ago that I’d never do a long-distance relationship again. The difference this time, though, is feeling like I fit so well with Steve — intellectually, emotionally, physically. And no man has ever demonstrated his feelings verbally the way Steve has.

It’s hard to believe our first date was only three weeks ago. I was excited that he showed up on time — less so when he suggested Red Lobster for dinner. Fortunately, when I expressed my lack of enthusiasm, he suggested Hunan, a Chinese restaurant with much more atmosphere and the one I’d had in mind to begin with.

Hunan: One of my favorite restaurants in Southern Illinois -- and where Steve took me for our first date

The evening got off to a perfect start when Steve held the car door for me before going around to the driver’s side. He does this every time we go out and I love it.

Conversation flowed freely between us. I found it very easy to open up to Steve — he is a great listener and talker, and he’s funny. At one point, when I was lamenting my non-existent love life over the last year, he said sympathetically–

“Not even a fling?”

“Not even,” I said, laughing as I did so often over the course of the evening.

“You look really nice, by the way,” he said.

I thanked him, admitting how embarrassed I’d been to have no makeup on the first time we met. He assured me I’d looked just as good without it and I smiled.

Our next stop was a casual, underground bar. The flirting between us was intensifying — we sat this close to each other and joked about a buttery nipple cocktail.

By 1am, I was feeling sleepy even though I didn’t want the night to end. Hoping a goodnight kiss was right around the corner, I made Steve stop at a gas station — claiming it was for a bathroom break when really I wanted to do a breath check and get some gum.

When we pulled up in front of my building, we both said we’d had a wonderful time.

“I wish we’d met sooner,” I said.

“Better late than never,” he replied.

He suggested we get together again a few days later. Then, instead of kissing me, Steve completely threw me when he shook my hand as I left the car.

In my entire dating life, that was a first.

* * *

Thankfully, Steve’s surprise gesture wasn’t at all indicative of his feelings for me. Date #2 would find us taking our chemistry to the next level.

Category: falling in love, first dates, long-distance relationships, Opening The Vault, Southern Illinois One comment »

One Response to “Opening The Vault: Part Sixty Nine”

  1. The First Date Dilemma — Single Gal in the City

    […] hours of effortless, flirty conversation and palpable mutual chemistry, Southern Illinois cutie Steve said goodnight with….a handshake. I remember being completely floored (especially since I was […]


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