Well, our friends made it happen.
In early 2011, I had finally broken up with a guy who I’d known for some time wasn’t any good for me. Once I finally ended things, my good friend Jess was there to make sure my new freedom wouldn’t be squandered on wine, popcorn, and made-for-TV movies. In an effort to keep me busy, she suggested we go Jeeping with a friend of hers and some of his friends. Up for anything, I quickly agreed. Then I asked, “what is Jeeping, anyway?” As it turns out, I was familiar with Jeeping, I just didn’t know that particular name for it. I knew it as “4-wheeling”, “muddin'”, or “off-roading”. Basically, it’s when you venture out into the woods in a jacked-up truck, SUV or, in this case, Jeep. I had friends in college who did this, but I’d never had the chance participate myself. I was excited to finally get to experience it for myself. Little did I know that Jess had arranged more than an outing in a Jeep…
Mr. B, was in a similar situation, having just found himself alone when his wife left him for the third and final time. He organized an evening of Jeeping with several of his friends, an one of his buddies, Ryan, promised to bring a couple of girls (Jess and me). It wasn’t until that evening that realized that our friends had planned to hook Mr. B and I up all along. Mr. B knew this, but I was completely unaware; that is, until we arrived and J literally pushed me in his direction. As it turns out, Mr. B had been waiting two weeks for the introduction, ever since he saw a picture of me that J had passed along. I, on the other hand, was blindsided.
When we arrived at the arranged meeting spot, Mr. B’s garage, Ryan introduced Jess and me to the group. Mr. B immediately offered me a drink, which really impressed me. (Never underestimate the power of good manners, boys. It will get you far.) Despite this chivalry, I immediately decided that we would have a fun night, but there was no way anything would come of this. Jess hasn’t exactly been a spectacular matchmaker in the past, and in my dating experience, “country boys” weren’t for me. Plus, this particular country boy lived more than an hour away, in a part of the world that didn’t even have any cell phone service, and he smoked like a chimney (a dating deal-breaker for me).
Still, I anticipated a fun evening and happily climbed in the backseat of Ryan’s Jeep with Mr. B. Mr. B had a Jeep of his own at the time, but it was out of commission. (I’m not entirely sure what was wrong with it, but it was missing all sorts of pieces, like rear wheels.) This worked out well, I was still with my friend, but it gave Mr. B and I a chance to get to know one another. And we did; we talked non-stop the whole night. He explained the finer points of Jeeping to me, we mocked each other’s taste in music, and we told each other about ourselves and our lives. At one point, he told me that he has a hard time talking to people he doesn’t know. I just assumed this was a load of crap, he didn’t have any problem talking to me. I eventually saw this to be true, but that night it seemed like a exaggeration, at best. We really did have a great time together. When he asked me for my number, I gave it to him, even though I still didn’t see us being anything more than friends.
Mr. B didn’t waste any time calling me and asking me out. I told him I’d love to hang out with him, but I was honest with him about the fact that I didn’t see a future between us. When he asked, I explained why, and he said he would be happy not to smoke around me if it bothered me and that he’d happily make the trip to my city if it meant he got to see me. We went out a few more times and I was astounded by how well we got along. I could talk to him about everything, and I really felt like I could be myself around him. I was pleased to learn that he actually wasn’t anything like the country boys I’d known; he is incredibly open-minded and adventurous. He doesn’t want to live anywhere else, but he loves to visit new places and experience new things.
Eventually, he approached the subject of dating again. I’d seen that the distance wouldn’t be an issue; we found ways to spend time together despite it. Still, I couldn’t bring myself to date a tobacco user, and he both smoked and chewed smokeless tobacco. When he told me that he’d thought about it and decided to quit, I was skeptical. He assured me that he’d been wanting to quit for sometime, but knowing that it was a deal-breaker for me was the motivation he needed to actually do it. I was afraid it wouldn’t last, or that he’d resent the fact that he’d done something like that for me. I’m pleased to report that I was wrong. It’s been more than two years and he’s remained tobacco-free. I know it wasn’t easy for him, (he went through a lot of gum and sunflower seeds at first) but he doesn’t go anywhere near tobacco now (except for the occasional cigar, which doesn’t bother me). I am so grateful that he did, and I am so grateful that I trusted him enough to start dating him. A few months later, I moved in with him and began my life as a rural rookie. A year and a half after that, he proposed. We plan to be married next spring, and I can honestly say I’m so thankful my conniving friend had something up her sleeve that fateful February night.