Monday, March 19, 2012

Beauty & the Beast: Defining the Relationship (Chapter Six)

KIM UPDATE:  So I leave Kim for one morning and she faints while I'm gone. I'm pretty sure it's because I didn't post Chapter Six of "Beauty and the Beast" on Friday but the doctors seem to think it has more to do with dehydration and the chemotherapy. (Meh. What do they know?) Fortunately, a CT scan and EKG determined everything was fine - no head trauma but unfortunately her PICC line (catheter placed near her heart to administer chemo) pulled out when she fell and they cannot reinsert it until Monday morning. This will delay our discharge date to Wed and pushes the spinal tap to Thursday (big day). We won't be doing the PET scan for a couple weeks to see if the cancer is gone in case you're wondering. Thanks for praying!
Beauty & the Beast: Defining The Relationship [rated PG-13] 
If you're joining in late - you can catch up on previous chapters HERE

Okay. It’s February 10th, 1997. Yes, it’s only four days from V-Day but today it’s D-Day. Or better yet DTR Day.  You know…“Do the RicoSuave” Day…err…I mean "Defining the Relationship" Day. 
You guys have all been there before, right? Don’t lie. You know exactly what I’m talking about. Staying up countless nights imagining the possibilities, giggling under your covers in your Batman pajamas. And then it hits you…

“What if she says no?”

So then you start employing different strategies, calculating decision trees, envisioning potential scenarios, running regression analyses, practicing game theory, solving for the Nash equilibrium – you know -  trying to predict how she will respond to that timeless…no…age-old…question all our fathers, fathers-fathers, grandfathers, husbands of our grandmothers, and sons of our great-grandfathers asked their eventual wives:

 “Do you like me?”

In first grade, you ask the question and if she says, “Sick! No!!” – you just shrug your shoulders, finish your chocolate milk, and blame it on the ubiquitous fear of that deadly cootie epidemic.

In fourth grade, you ask the question and if she says, “Sick! No!!” – you just shrug your shoulders, finish your styrofoam pizza and blame it on your uncanny resemblance to Steven Urkel from Family Matters.

In junior high, you ask the question and if she says, “Sick! No!!” – you just shrug your shoulders, finish your puberty, and blame it on your semi-hairy legs and semi-predictable vocal chords.
bonus points for this 1970's cultural reference
In high school, you ask the question and if she says, “Sick! No!!” – you just shrug your shoulders, curl up to your true love, your TV, and watch another action-packed episode of  “The A-Team”. [“tee-hee…crazy Murdock!!”]

In college, you ask the question and if she says, “Sick! No!!” – you just shrug your shoulders, go to Friday Night Large Group and hope tonight is the “Dating Seminar” and pray she has a teachable heart.

In your last semester in college, you ask the question and if she says, “Sick! No!!” – that is it! No more! You cannot shrug your shoulders any longer! You are wearing a large backpack with your Chemistry textbook in it and it is very heavy. Coincidentally, you also come to the sobering realization that you may die an old maid…errrr…man…die an old man.

It’s a real petrifying epiphany. 

Real petrifying.

Real epiphanic.


Despite all that, I feel like the time is right. I mean I prayed for three solid months.  I bought a flower. I grew a flower. I killed a flower. I spoke with her cousin Bernie and got his blessing. I spoke with Pastor Min and got his blessing. I spoke with the County Market checkout lady, Edna, and got her blessing, along with the correct change. I was good to go.  It was “now or never”.  It was “do or die”.  It was “win or go home”.  It was “stop the cliches or you’ll lose readers.”  I pack up my carefully worded letter with the amaryllis petal pressed into it.

And then, I finally call Kim up and ask her if she is free to go out for some coffee. I think Kim suspects something is up since the only coffee I ever have resides in cake, candy, and ice cream. We head to Espresso Royale, a cafe, across the street from church (CUCC) and get out of my car. And then the worst imaginable thing happens - we run into a couple church friends and my college pastor - Pastor Min…"DRAT!"

Background: Now, I don’t know if you guys have ever been a part of a college fellowship. But when I was in college if two people of the opposite sex were contemplating a possible dating relationship the last thing that couple wanted was anyone from the church spotting them together on campus, for fear that unnecessary rumors would start before anything had happened. Thus, sullying the young maiden’s name and precluding her from ever hoping for a proper English nuptial. However, when you’re in a church of 400 people, who never sleep, live within a one-mile radius of each other, and have cameras – you suddenly empathize with Brad and Angelina, and the whole world is your paparazzi. I remember one autumn morning, I walked this freshman girl to her class, and by lunch my buddies were throwing rice at me and tying cans to the back of my car. Disgusting! She was my little sister! (Lydia)

But I digress. Now at this point I’m trying my best to avoid Pastor Min and the people he’s with but it’s too late. He sees me and he’s cool about it. I mean we talked and I got his blessing right? We just casually pass by each other and he just kind of gives me this look.

You know kind of like the look Jesus gave to Judas at the Last Supper. 

The “what you are about to do…do quickly” look.

But for Kim’s sake I didn’t want us being seen together. I guess if I didn’t want church people to see us I shouldn’t have chosen to meet up at the coffee shop directly across from the church. I’m such a genius.
So we’re sitting there sipping on our coffee and I’m too anxious to ask her there. My perfect game plan had been thrown off kilter and for the first time ever Rico Suave is frazzled - at least since the sweat-suit incident. I have absolutely no recollection of what we discussed there- probably the thermodynamic implications of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity or why exactly The Incredible Hulk turns green when he gets mad – it was one or the other...I can't remember.

Despite how great things were going in our conversation of said topic, I was too nervous to bring our relationship up. We then get back into my car and I’m about to completely chicken out and drive her home when I am suddenly overcome with this feeling that I should go ahead and ask her now. Whether it was the good Lord moving in my nervous heart or the whipped cream moving in my lactose-intolerant stomach – I’ll never know. But man, that cream is killer.

So I gather my wits and ask her, “Do you mind if we go for a little drive?”

She pauses and then nervously agrees.

I start driving around and I have no idea where I’m going. I pull over somewhere in Champaign - probably a nice, romantic high-crime location. We’re sitting in the dark in my Celica and I then go off on my 30 minute soliloquy about how for the last year she has been on my mind, and how I had committed her to prayer and felt like we were meant for each other and  how I was the man of her dreams…the love of her life…the reason for her being…the purpose for her creation…the bane of her existence. And then finally I ask her the Christian equivalent of that timeless question “Do you like me?”…..

“Kim, would you consider praying for me?”

At this point she’s staring out her window so I cannot read her face. Straining to hear her reply…


                More silence.

                                Deafening silence.

Once you’ve popped that question time is suddenly suspended and you feel like the most vulnerable person in the world. Waiting…




It’s actually quite similar to being at the doctor’s office waiting for a hernia examination. But I digress. I’ve done it. I’ve confessed my love. I’ve revealed my heart. I’ve bared my soul. I’ve spilled the beans. Now I must wait and see if she will eat my beans…and smile, a beautiful smile. Or eat my beans…and fart, a nasty fart. [apologies for the PG-13 analogies]

Sorry, no applications. This chapter is long enough…but feel free to leave a comment with an "application".

In His Grace,

Peter & Kim


  1. Application: Everything in life can be boiled down to a good 70's or 80's tv reference. Things are so much simpler that way. :)

    And thanks a lot - now my mental soundtrack for the day is switching back & forth between the A-Team theme and "When it's time to CHAAAAANGE..."

    Praying for a speedy and UNEVENTFUL finish to round 4!

  2. Thanks. Great writing as always, and very timely for me as I've been struggling with the "DTR or not" debate myself right now.

    Continuing to pray for your wife.

  3. Peter Brady, of course! I had to chuckle at the deafening silence bit. My hubby said the same thing...waited 4 years to finally perfectly craft "the question" (over the phone), and said he almost hung up after the silence of 1-2 minutes felt like eternity. Love the analogy of Pastor Min's look to Jesus' look to Judas.

    Praying for Kim and a quick return home!