I have always been awkward.
The doctor who held me as an infant said I was squinting too much so he ordered me some baby glasses; they had a black thick frame. Some people ask me if they are the ones I wear now but I’ll never tell.
I also had a full set of hair except for the top part, so I was like a baby George Costanza. The first words my dad told me when he held me for the first time at arm’s length were, “You are a weird looking kid, you know that?” and this was how I looked until I was six. Those were the longest six years of my life. Stayed inside my house all day long and when I went to kindergarten I wore a cowboy hat to hide my tonsure.
Once my hairline problems were over, being around people was not as hard anymore. Until, that is, I went to middle school. One day I got into an argument with my stepmother. One of my chores was to clean the bathroom, and I did it as quickly and efficiently as possible. My stepmother was already having a bad day, but I didn’t realize it. So when she showed me how to clean properly it wasn’t a good idea to scream at her, “That is what I am doing, darn it,” because she slapped the cuteness off my face.
The next the day I went to school with the cuteness slapped off my face, and the only girl who had a crush on me in the whole school now was trying to avoid me. Being an awkward little kid who sat in the back of the class, my cuteness was the only thing this one girl noticed in me. My dad had taught me that there are no ugly women in the world but this girl was not my type. I even felt embarrassed that she announced her crush so publicly. Now she was the one embarrassed of me. This made the whole situation very awkward.
A pattern should be visible here: Life gives me lemons and while making lemonade I squirt myself in the eye. Instead of making the best of it I get obsessed with the whole situation and can’t think straight.
How I met my wife is no different. I went back to Mexico from Los Angeles for two weeks to visit my family. I called a girl I knew named Loren to see if she wanted to hang out. My future wife answered the phone. She was Loren’s cousin.
“Is this Loren?” I asked.
“No this is Angie,” my future wife said.
“Oh, um, Loren?”
“No. I said this is Angie.”
“Is Loren there?”
“Oh my God. Here you talk to him!” my future wife said.
Loren and I talked and made some plans for the four of us to do that day–meaning my cousin, my future wife, Loren, and me. My cousin and I ended up doing something else that day because my dad didn’t let me borrow his truck; I didn’t call them to cancel.
Sometime during that week I rode along with my dad to drop my cousin at his house. We parked in front of his house. Across the street was a small truck. In the truck were Loren and Loren’s boyfriend and my future wife. My cousin and I crossed the street to talk to them.
“How come you guys didn’t meet us at the McDonald’s the other day?!” Loren said.
“My uncle didn’t let Manny borrow the truck, so we were stuck at the house all day,” my cousin said.
“Haven’t you guys heard of buses?” my future wife said.
“We stood outside my house but we never saw one pass by,” I said.
“Of course you didn’t. You were supposed to walk to the bus stop. They don’t stop just anywhere,” my future wife said.
I didn’t say anything after that. I was trying to say something funny but I ended up sounding dumb. As if it wasn’t hard enough for me to meet new people, my exaggerating mind acted up.
The four of us made plans to go to the movies. My dad drove me there and on the ride to the movies all I thought about was that comment I made about the buses.
Our movie night was great except that I tried to erase my stupid comment from their minds and they kept bringing it back. We set up another date to hang out for the weekend. It kind of went the same. This time my dad did let me borrow his truck, so my cousin and I went to pick them up. We went out to eat and then we crashed a party. There, for the first time, my future wife and I were alone.
By this time I had decided that I liked my future wife.
I remembered that she had asked a couple of times that she wanted to use the restroom. So we were standing on the curb outside the party and everybody had gone in ahead of us. All alone, and under the bright stars and the moonlight, the only thing that came to my mind was, “Didn’t you have to go to the restroom?”
Well after that, we dropped them off. My cousin and I went home, thinking how badly everything went. But to my surprise, the girls called the boys the next day. Loren, without saying hello, asked if I liked Angie. Well I did, so I said, very manly, “I do like her. Why? Does she?”
My wife and I talked for hours after that — with plenty of awkward silences, more than any normal person could handle.
But it was easier after that. I realized how wonderful it was getting out of my comfort zone those two days. Like swimming against the current—tough, but after a while it makes you stronger. Suddenly, I felt confident.
I called her at five in the morning the day I was leaving Mexico to return to Los Angeles. For some reason, my awkward mind didn’t bother me. It was like we already knew.
“Hey, so I’m leaving in a couple of hours,” I said. “Oh really, I didn’t know,” my future wife said.
“Yes, just calling to make sure you have your stuff ready because I am on my way to pick you up right now.”
She went along with it.
“I am on the curb all ready with my bags. You got my ticket? Don’t leave me behind, all riled up.”
“I’ll call you as soon as I land; it was very nice meeting you.”
“Likewise. Have a nice trip.”
Two years later, we were married.