When Mommy Met Daddy: Part One

Once upon a time in the year 2003, there was a magical land called “Tennessee”. In this magical land there lived a girl named Natalie (that’s me, ya’ll!). Natalie wasn’t from Tennessee, but had moved there from a place far away called “Chicago”. It was in this time and place that she met the boy of her dreams, though she didn’t know right away that he WAS the boy of her dreams. His name was Josh. He shaved his head and worked at a comic book store.

This is where our story begins (and where we switch to the first person, because I hate writing in third.)……

Back in 2003, I was 19 years old. I know, right? A baby. Oh, and I was really skinny at this point. The skinniest I’ve ever been – 130 pounds. I was, in fact, living in Tennessee and working at a bookstore. I was dating a man much older than myself, and I didn’t have very many friends outside of my job. I almost never hung out with anyone aside from my boyfriend. I was a bit lonely, to be honest.

Me, circa 2003. 

Sometime in February of 2003, my coworker Jennifer asked me if I’d like to come and hang out with her and her group of friends that weekend. She told me they liked to go out to Applebees and then bowling. She warned me that it wouldn’t be until late; probably sometime after 10 since everyone would be off work by then. I was very excited; I was going through a “Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, guess I’ll go eat worms” phase. Minus the eating worms, because that’s gross. I accepted her offer and that Friday (or Saturday.. hell, that was a long time ago and approximately a quarter of my brain cells have been eaten by my Zombie Baby) night I pranced my skinny toushie to Applebee’s. If you ask my husband today, he can tell you exactly what I was wearing – and he’d be right, because I remember. It was there that I met Justin, Thomas, Ryan, Shemaiah, and…. Joshua. I don’t have any pictures of those friends from then, but I do have this super great one of Ryan and Shemaiah from a few years ago. 

Ryan, me (and Ada) and Shemaiah circa 2005. You’re welcome, guys. 



So that night I hung out with the group for the first of many times to come. I had a really good time, and talked mainly to Justin. I remember thinking that Josh was very quiet, and that he didn’t like me. When we went to Waffle House after bowling (ahhh, Waffle House) I confided to Jennifer that I didn’t think Josh liked me very much. “No,” she assured me. “That’s just Josh.” 


I don’t exactly remember when it was that I hung out with the group again, but I’m thinking a few weeks went by. The next outing was the typical group, plus a girl that Thomas had been seeing and another girl that we were trying to set Ryan up with. I believe it was Shemaiah’s (soon to be) sister-in-law. While at the bowling alley I’m not sure why but Josh and I ended up standing back and watching the hilarity that was erupting within our little group of friends. Let’s just say that the set-up between Ryan and Shemaiah’s SIL wasn’t going so well (I believe at one point she threw a shoe at his crotch), and odd things were going on between some of the other pals. Josh and I stood back and watched, amused at our friends’ antics. At one point, for some reason he said to me jokingly, “Which one of you did it?!”

Now, that may not mean much to many people but to me, it was an open invitation to one of my Most Favorite Things Ever: Quoting Movies. Excitedly – and hoping that I wasn’t off base and would end up with a WTFLADY look – I replied,
“Which one of you did it?! Which one of you made me the way I am??”
My movie quote landed, and Josh responded with a laugh. The movie we were quoting was Interview With the Vampire, and no one I’d ever met before had recognized it when I quoted it. For some women, the quickest way to their heart is flowers, candy, or poetry. To me, it’s obscure movie quotes and pop culture references. If you can banter back and forth with me in movie quotes, we’ll get along just fine.
That little exchange of vampire dialogue was the real icebreaker between me and Josh. From that point on, we was like peas and carrots (see what I did there? See? That’s another movie quote.)

Through the spring and summer I continued to hang out with the group, always enjoying everyone’s company but especially Josh’s. I considered him a male version of myself. I never entertained the thought of anything deeper than friendship then; I was in a serious relationship. I loved my boyfriend, and wouldn’t in a million years have cheated on him. Josh and I eventually began hanging out on our own – late night trips to IHOP while my boyfriend worked 3rd shift and after I had gotten off a late shift at Chili’s (oh, yeah, I had started working at Chili’s at some point. My bad.), silly excursions to Wal-Mart at 1 AM. I visited him at the comic book store he worked at a few times and we shared many internet laughs. Like Trogdor the Burninator. While we were hanging out together, I began to realize something. This person wasn’t like anyone else I’d ever met before. He was kind, and generous, and he would do anything for his friends even if they had burned him a few times. He was loyal to the very end. He also treated me better than anyone had ever treated me before in my life.. Including my boyfriend. My boyfriend never physically mistreated me and I wouldn’t really say he did psychologically; but he had his “not so nice” moments and it was sometime in the summer that I realized that I wasn’t happy with him or the way he was treating me as a girlfriend. My best friend (Josh, duh) was being kinder, sweeter and more attentive to me and he wasn’t even getting any action out of me. It was around that time that I tried to break things off with my boyfriend the first time.

I had planned the entire thing out. I was just going to tell him I was having doubts about our relationship, and thought we should maybe take a break or call it quits. I was prepared for a lot of things: anger, resentment, yelling.. But I wasn’t prepared for what actually happened.

On to Part Two.