I recently experienced an “Aha!” moment with my Swirl Man. Not that I had any doubt, but I know he loves me.
See, when I was in college I had a wonderful friend-guy named *Harry. I’d graduated from high school at 16 and went to a university in Florida on a full scholarship. I didn’t know a soul, and I purposed that I would meet at least three people every day – even if I had to walk up to the person and introduce myself. I met Harry on my first day, and he was the first person I met. Harry had beautiful hazel eyes, a very high IQ, and a horrible potty mouth – and I liked him on sight. Harry hailed from the South Side of Chicago and introduced me to his male and female buds. I fell right in and we all became fast friends.
(What does this have to do with my Swirl Man, you ask? No need to call Elmo – I’m getting there; really I am).
Fast forward to the summer after freshman year. I had learned the ancient art of embroidery and grew fascinated with putting designs on denim button-down chambray shirts (remember those?). I decided to do a special shirt for Harry (if you hadn’t guessed it already, yes, I had a major crush on him for the longest. We never really moved past the “good friends” stage – he had a girl back home who had been his sweetheart since junior high; she was so nice and sweet I just couldn’t hate her – but that was all right with me. He was the first guy I’d ever met that I instantly liked, had the most beautiful eyes, was beyond smart, and he never ceased to fascinate me).
E.L.M.O. . . . . .
Anyway, I spent at least a month embroidering this shirt, and looked forward to returning to school in the fall just so I could give it to him. I decided to go with a Southwestern theme just so I could use a new embroidery pattern I had: sombreros, cacti, donkeys . . . it was colorful and SO beautiful! Sure, I thought about mailing it to him, but decided to keep it till August just so I could see his face when he opened it.
Sidebar: [To this day, I still like to give gifts in person so I can see facial expressions. My Swirl Man and I have a long-distance relationship, and we specialize in celebrating Valentine’s Day after the fact for this same reason].
Anyway, Harry seemed genuinely surprised and appreciative when I gave him the shirt, and he actually wore it even though it was a size too small. I beamed with pride – Harry wore the shirt that I embroidered for him, and he wore it often. One day after class we walked across the yard to join some of our other friends for lunch. As I was walking around greeting everyone, I happened to turn around in time to see *Jack (also from the South Side of Chicago) doubled over in laughter. His back was to me so he didn’t realize I was looking.
Jack (bursting with laughter): “What up, Dawg? I see you wore your (more laughter) . . . shirt.”
Harry (trying not to grin): “&*^% you, &^#$%^-*&^*@#!” (I did tell you he had a potty mouth, right??)
They both jumped guiltily when I walked up.
Me (confused): “Something wrong with the shirt?”
Jack (really laughing hard now): “Well, it does have two donkeys on the front . . .”
Harry (flushed and wanting Jack to shut up): “Be quiet, &^#$@%-&%+*&^! This is my &%$-*&+#@% shirt!”
Jack (snickering): “All right, Man . . . all right!”
I stood there, noticing that the other guys were also trying to not laugh. Comprehension slowly began to set in . . . . the shirt had two donkeys on the front.
[You know how you can think a shoe is really cute until your BFF says it’s hideous – and then once she says it, you notice that the buckles really are too big and the heel really is too clunky, and the shoe is . . . really not cute?]
We went in the cafeteria and not another word was said about the shirt, but I couldn’t wait to corner Harry.
Me (quietly): “Jack and ‘nem have been teasing you about the shirt, haven’t they?”
Harry (just as quietly): “Yeah. But don’t worry about those &^%#$*-&^%&#@*. You made me that shirt, and I appreciate it. I don’t care what they say; I’m going to wear it. &$%^ them.”
Me (BEYOND mortified): “Harry, thanks, but you don’t have to do that. Really, you don’t.”
Harry: “Naw, now . . . .”
Me: “No, REALLY. PLEASE don’t wear it anymore. It’s too small, anyway.”
Even though I was dying with shame on the inside, I burst out laughing so Harry would think I was ok.
Harry (somewhat relieved): “You sure? &%$* those &^%#$*-&^%&#@*’s.”
Harry wore the shirt a couple more times after that just to show Jack that he wasn’t running anything, but put it away soon after.
When I went back to the dorm and thought about it, I realized that though I’d never be Harry’s girlfriend, he genuinely cared about me. That shirt was beyond hideous, and he wore it. At least once a week. To class.
I’ve since moved beyond embroidery (and beyond Harry), but this past Christmas I made my Swirl Man a Christmas stocking: Deep blue velvet, with light blue faux fur trim three inches wide around the rim (blue is his favorite color). I put his initials on the rim and then hand-sewed rhinestones in various colors, shapes, and sizes all over the stocking. That wasn’t enough: I hot glued faux gemstones and sparkly snowflakes to mix with the rhinestones, then filled it with lots of interesting goodies (did I mention that the stocking was . . . uh . . . fairly big?).
My Swirl Man oooed and aahed over it; flattered that I’d taken the time to sew it by hand for him. He proudly displayed it for everyone to see and kept telling me how amazing I was. I was inspired:
Me (excitedly): “This will be one of our Christmas traditions! I’ll make you a stocking every year!”
SM (slowly): “Um . . . great. Um . . . . Darling?
SM (slowly): “The stocking is great, but . . . um . . . when you make it, don’t make it with all that . . . um . . . bling on it, ok?”
Me (shocked): “Bling???!!!”
SM: “Yeah . . . bling.”
When he saw my shocked expression, he said, “Well, you had . . . glitter on it. And . . . stones . . . and . . . stuff. Don’t get me wrong – I love it – but from now on, you don’t have to . . . decorate it as much. I’m. . Uh . . . conservative, you know?”
Needless to say, I experienced déjà vu in addition to my “Aha!” moment. My fiancé had displayed that stocking so everyone could see it – all the while inwardly cringing at the “bling” in pretty much the same way Harry had cringed at the donkeys. Never mind his personal taste (and my lack of it); the fact that it was made in love caused him to not care about who saw it or what anyone thought. When a man (Harry) likes a woman, and when a man (my fiancé) loves a woman, it’s amazing how many donkeys – and how much bling – he’ll endure.
Lucky me: I have the rest of my life to show him how very much I love him and appreciate him.
*Names have been changed to protect the guilty
Join in the fray:
What have you “endured” in the name of love? Leave a comment and tell me about it!