About, oh, say, exactly four years ago today I met Dave. On Valentine’s Day. I told you, I’ll never shut up with this story.
Shortly after our first meeting, I wanted to drive to the Oregon coast for the first time. I was planning to go by myself, but Dave invited himself along. He didn’t have a car, and he hadn’t gone out to do dorky stuff in Oregon since he was a kid. So we got breakfast, gassed up the car, and headed west on route 6.
This was only the second or third time we had hung out together. And now it was going to be hours in the car. As I was yapping away, Dave made an observation.
“You’re a nervous talker, aren’t you?”
I wonder if my face went red. I bet it did. I’m totally one of those people with an uncontrollable blush when I get embarrassed.
On the outside, I got all huffy puffy and denied that I was a nervous talker. How dare he! Who does he think he is! I just talk a lot all the time, is all. Not just in front of practical strangers, who I don’t know, who I think might like me. He chuckled and took my mock outrage in stride.
On the inside, in my brain, I thought about how he really asked me that question. “You’re a nervous talker, aren’t you?” He really did ask me that. And it made me realize a couple things.
One thing, was that he was honest. He felt comfortable enough to ask me something like that. Granted, I’m awfully charming and do what I can to make other people feel comfortable having a conversation with me. I do this by non-stop talking, and filling up every spare second of potential silence with inane prattle. I’m wicked charming.
But he was honest enough to just come out and make that observation. He wasn’t evasive. He was confident enough to just belt that question out, even though we had hung out maybe twice, and I was hurtling us down the road at 65 miles an hour.
Another thing I thought about, was that he was calling out my crazy. He could have just as easily smiled and nodded through the whole 250 miles of driving we did that day, listening to my rapid-fire chatter. But with that one question, he was letting me know that most normal people don’t communicate this way. He was acknowledging that maybe I was a little nervous. He was acknowledging that maybe he didn’t want to be the passive recipient of all my boring stories that he didn’t yet know. I was new to Oregon, and I didn’t know anyone, so I considered the whole damn state a blank canvas for my boring stories. You can thank Dave for putting a stop to that plan.
And the last thing his question made me realize, was that he was an adult. He wasn’t a game player. I could already tell that he was forthright, and he didn’t have anything to hide. He wasn’t interested in that silly, contorted, strategic dance people do when they meet potential mates. I appreciated that I was getting to know the person sitting next to me, without having to fear that it was all just a show, and that maybe he had dead bodies buried in his back yard. Which is really all a woman can hope for with a romantic relationship.
So I learned a lot, when he asked me that question, speeding through the hills of the Coast Range, on our way to the rest of our lives.
But also, on that trip, despite my protests, and my fingers in my ears, he pointed out a pond in Rockaway Beach where he went fishing as a kid, and where he ended up with a fish hook lodged in his eyebrow. With the worm still attached. Did I need to hear that story? No. Did I ask him to please, please, please not tell me that story? Yes. Did he tell me anyway? Yes. Did it gross me the hell out? Of course.
And I learned from that story, that Dave can be a pain in the ass sometimes if he wants to be, and he doesn’t do what he’s told. Which makes for good companionship on long road trips.