The Party That Changed My Life
On January 31, 1993, The Dallas Cowboys played The Buffalo Bills at The Pasadena Rose Bowl for the NFL Championship. Or, as it’s commonly remembered; Michael Jackson’s Super Bowl.
Thankfully, I had gotten past the hairstyle of MJ’s guitarist by that phase in my life. Well into my second semester of Southwestern Seminary, with a Masters of Communication Degree in full swing, my days were occupied with class while nights I was a hostess at Uncle Julio’s Mexican Restaurant in Ft. Worth.
A Cowboys Super Bowl equaled no one eating out equaled me getting to leave early. I was all too happy to let the other girls spend their Sunday Night scraping salsa debris from menus. I was late to my party. I raced home, disposed of the tortilla fragrance, threw on a mini skirt and dashed to my Churches’ Super Bowl Party.
With an overwhelming crowd (perhaps the drawing for dollar-theater movie tickets brought the mob of singles) despite every chair in the house being in front of the TV, there was still nowhere to sit. So, precariously perched on the brick fireplace mantel, I tried to prevent a wardrobe malfunction of my own. Even with tights, I was embarrassed. So, now that my left calf was completely numb with little blood making its way foot-ward, I decided I better walk it out or risk losing all feeling entirely.
Maneuvering past the Pangaea of Cowboys Fans actually into the game, clutching tightly wadded skirt to my leg, I made it to the kitchen. As fate would have it, the winner of the budget-movie jackpot was there with his two-dollars-worth of good fortune. He was a guy named John. I congratulated him and he came up with a pretty smooth line. Something like, “Hey, do you like movies?” or another equally suave sentiment. (He vehemently denies ever being this awkward but this is my story.)
“Sure I do.” I said, envisioning the suicide-soda-sludge river studded with gummy bears and kernels I stepped in the first and only time I had ever been to the dollar theater. As we chatted, I remembered seeing John around campus. He stood out because he looked like he actually owned an ironing board…and used it. He was a sharp-dressed guy, with a determined look in his kind eyes that he was headed somewhere.
After a while, our conversation wound down. I returned to the back of the living room, canvassing the pile of squatters for signs of movement. With no chair in the forseeable future and my sweat pants a-callin’, I thanked the host and bid adieu to dark-haired dollar movie guy.
“You’ve got to help me use these tickets.” John reminded me playfully as I walked out.
“Sure will. Just call me.” I said and left.
And, he did. Our first date was not the Dollar Movie but rather dinner in Dallas two weeks after the Super Bowl. Five months later we were engaged and 17 months later we were married, over 16 years ago.
We are a classic example of opposites attracting. John is serious with a surprisingly killer wit and I am a comic with some flashes of depth, I suppose. He is focused, detail-oriented and precise while I, wait…do I see something shiny over there? Because I was the crazy Communication Major and John was the driven Biblical Language student, people did not put us together. I guess someone else did.
With our divergent personalities, we don’t look at life the same way. This must’ve been thoroughly entertaining for God to watch in the early years back when being right meant something to each of us. We have always had the same goals in life, just had different ideas on how to reach them. While John is methodical, I use the force to guide me. At times, my intuition has been indispensable and at times, John’s grace under pressure subjectivity has saved the day.
On August 2, 2009, at Batson Children’s Hospital in Jackson, Maggie Lee lost her 3 week fight for life. Suddenly, we had decisions to make about organ donation. Having the chance to donate your child’s organs means that they no longer need them and this is an overwhelmingly sad thought. Utterly disappointed, I frankly wondered if her little body had not been through enough already. I was in no frame of mind to make a judgement call of this magnitude.
The donation coordinator left John and me alone in the family room to discuss our options. We weighed pros and cons and John in his beautiful, level-headed way, reasoned, “Maggie Lee would give anyone anything they needed. What would she want? ” That clear, concise reminder of her generous spirit shot through my haze of exhaustion and grief and led us both to the right decision.
If I could turn back the hands of time, there are obviously things I would change. But, if I could return to that Super Bowl party in 1993, I’d tell myself to hold on to this guy with both hands.