An Ironic Romance (Or How I Fell For The Electrician)

My sweetie and I don’t have a grand and sweeping romance story. No movie studio will ever call me up to purchase the rights to recreate our meeting on the big screen: that’s okay. I thought I’d share how it all happened with you, dear readers, to set the record straight. The irony is awesome.

I initially met The Electrician at a girls’ night out dinner in a little town about half an hour from Edmonton. He went along with his roommate, one of my friends from university, to make sure she and the other ladies had a safe ride home. Since he was driving a minivan at the time, it made since for him to act as the big green taxi since he had the most seat belts. I got lost on my way to the restaurant by taking the wrong exit onto the freeway and driving twelve minutes in the wrong direction in a blizzard, so I was late enough that the only seat left was beside this bearded stranger, and my friends were finishing their appetizers before I sat down.

A man in a beard has always flown clear under my radar. I forever swore I would never date a man with facial hair: it always creeped me out because it reminded me of my dad and my uncles, and all the other older men I know who perpetually smell like motor oil and engine exhaust. The guy sitting beside me had a full-on beard like Raffi. Do you remember him? “Baby Beluga” was my favorite song during several years of my childhood.

It wasn’t like the beard Brad Pitt is sporting in this photo. I could deal with a little, trimmed up beard like this one, because it’s under control and it’s clear that Brad darling is still a good lookin’ man.

The man sitting next to me had a beard rather like Brad’s in the photo below, which makes a girl wonder what he’s hiding? Is his chin horribly deformed? Has he trimmed his budget by refusing to buy razor blades at ridiculous prices? After all, you could pretty much pay the power bill for the cost of a package of Mach III cartridges. Is the name of an ex girlfriend tattooed on his chin? What’s the deal?.

Yeah. His hair was about the same length as Brad’s is in this photo, too. I noticed that he smelled nice, though, which counts for big points but didn’t quite cancel out the jaw jungle.

The burly, hairy fellow next to me didn’t say much during the meal, so I finally turned to him and tried to strike up a conversation. It went like so:

Me:  So, you’re my curly-headed friend’s roommate.

Him:  Yep, sure am.

Me:  I teach English: what do you do for a living?

Him:  I’m an electrician.

Me:  Excellent. I like electricity. What’s your favorite unit of electrical measurement? (Yes, this really is how it went).

Him:  I guess I’d have to choose ohms.

Me:  Ohms, huh? Why is that?

Him:  I like how it sounds: O-mmmmmmss.

Me:  Makes sense. That’s an impressive (ahem) beard.

Him:  Thanks. It keeps my face warm at work.

Me:  I bet it does.

It was not the most lively exchange, nor did it indicate any romantic intentions by either party. To be fair, I was a couple months out from a crushing breakup and I was not looking for a love interest. I also may have made a comment or four about hating men and wanting to live in the hills of some remote village with my cat and a knapsack full of chocolate bars and feminist novels for a while. For whatever reason, I didn’t anticipate seeing this electrician again unless my curly-headed friend hosted another outing.

A few months later, my curly-headed friend called to chat, and she asked me a strange question. “Hey,” she said, “my roommate, The Electrician, would like to have permission to call you sometime.”

Two things struck me. First, The Electrician’s real name is one I had just tried to talk a good friend out of naming her new baby because I couldn’t stand the name. Really. She gave it to the kid anyway, and I rolled my eyes over the phone at her. Really. Next, I was struck by how sweetly old-fashioned it was for a guy to ask for my number rather that just calling me unannounced and trying to flirt with me. Cue the intrigue.

I gave my friend permission to pass my number on, and a few days later The Electrician called me. He very nervously asked me if I wanted to go to a show with him since he had some movie passes for Shutter Island on a Thursday night. But, you know, just “as friends” because he knew I wasn’t really looking to date at that time. I figured I had nothing to lose, so I agreed to go.

Shutter Island scared the snot out of me. I know that may brand me as a big wimp, but I’ve never pretended to be brave and I won’t start now. It’s the kind of film where things jump out suddenly and the audience spends most of the time waiting for the next big jolt. In the interest of keeping the contents of my bladder inside my bladder, I stopped drinking my Diet Pepsi about 20 minutes into the show. Truly, I couldn’t wait for that movie to end so I could stop cringing in my seat and hoping not to pee myself; it was a rather embarrassing situation, given the fact that I’m supposed to be an adult and all.

As for The Electrician, he and his extra-rugged facial hair meant what they said about hanging out as friends. Many guys out there would take a girl to a scary movie in an attempt to make a play for her, but not this one. In fact, he didn’t touch me except for a couple of brief pats on my kneecap when it seemed I might melt down before the credits rolled. I found out months later, however, that there were no movie passes to the show, but that The Electrician had driven to the theatre (way the heck on the other side of Edmonton) a few days earlier to purchase the movie tickets before asking me to go with him, so he could appear like a man with a plan and not have to worry about making me uncomfortable by buying my ticket in front of me. What appeared to be a casual evening between two people who might want to be friends was actually a carefully orchestrated event, like one of those Disneyland parades, but with more beard and less cheesy music.

During our evening, and particularly at the moment of the awkward goodnight hug, The Electrician was junior high dance nervous. I secretly found his awkwardness adorable and a very good sign. After all, it’s wise to avoid men who are too smooth: those are the ones who’ve had way too much practice, if you catch my drift. He also had excellent manners, smelled good and wore a nice shirt.

Here’s the thing: The Electrician asked to see me again. We hung out and had a good conversation about life, family and work over ribs at Montana’s, and I noted that this man was actually very funny, had a gorgeous smile, and treated the server respectfully, always a good sign. Then he asked to see me again, and he always phrased it like he was asking permission for something really good, like “Can I please see you later this week,” rather than simply inviting me out or assuming that I wanted to spend time with him. He still does that, too, almost a year and a half later.

At some point, I realized I was starting to have a serious crush on this man with the name I formerly hated, who sported that beard, which I would have declared a deal-breaker in my younger days. Soon after, there was smooching, and both of us knew romance was in the air. He stuffed a Jim Morrison t-shirt in my mailbox to let me know how he felt about me: nothing says, “I can’t stop thinking about you” like a dead rock star on a cotton top. I cooked him a couple meals and a batch of cinnamon buns, and he realized I knew my way around a kitchen. It was a good thing from all angles. He even trimmed his beard back from full-on basement in 1974 shag to a nice, modern berber, a practice I encourage to this day by flapping my arms and exclaiming how handsome he is (because he is, after all) every time he mows his face.

Here’s the kicker. When The Electrician and I discussed our first night out to the movies a few months later, I mentioned how glad I was that he’d asked my friend for my number. That’s when I found out that she told him I asked her to get him to call me. Hmm. It was an out-and-out set up, and we were (thankfully) oblivious.

Thank heaven for sneaky friends.

copyright 2011:

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