After meeting the good looking Ranger (AKA Big Buckaroo) at the trade show I thought about him every once in a while, but my phone did not ring. So, I did what every single Memphis girl who works in marketing for a major hospital corporation, I went on a date with another doctor. He was a nice guy, but no spark.
A few weeks later, I was at my desk and the phone rang, on the other end was … my mother in Mississippi, just kidding, it was the park ranger. Needless to say I was giddy, jumping up and down, but trying to act oh so cool. My friend Pat and one of the other marketing girls ran to my doorway, they knew all about him and could not wait to see what he said.
His parents had moved to Oregon for a while and he was going to go out for a week to visit, on the way back he was gong to have a three and a half hour layover in Memphis and wanted to take me up on my promise to show him what Memphis was really like. Of course I told him that I needed to check my calendar, it was going to be Mother’s Day weekend. I am close to my mom, but I thought maybe I would just get her an extra nice gift and she would understand. So, I erased trip to Mississippi to visit parents in my Franklin Planner this was during the paper organization days, and wrote in Park Ranger’s name, 4:30 Northwest Airlines. I never even questioned why he was traveling through Memphis when Dallas would have been better, but hey, the travel agent karma was on my side. I would later find out it was intentional.
I hung up the phone and Pat and I giggled for a while, talked about how gorgeous he was and the rest of the day I was walking in the clouds. The countdown until May 9 was on, everything I did was in anticipation of picking him up at the airport on that Sunday.
The day finally came, I arrived at Memphis International early, checked my make-up and hair about 53 times in the bathroom closest to his gate and waited. This was before 911, so I did not have to have a strip search and I was able to sit by his gate. The coy gal I am, I sat a few gates down and waited and waited, and waited. O.K. I was so excited I got there REAL early.
Then, I saw him, he was walking toward me with Wranglers, boots, a nice dark green button down shirt and a smile that lit up the airport. It was all I could do to stand up, I was focused on not doing anything stupid like walking toward him and tripping. Thankfully, my awkward gracefulness did not take over and we met in the middle without any major catastrophe on my part.
Remember, I had only had a limited conversation at the trade show with this man, and then the brief phone conversation to make this date. But, after a brief moment of awkwardness, he looked at me with those eyes so blue that you could swim in them and everything was fine, it was then that I KNEW!
After pleasantries such as “how was your flight?” “Did you enjoy Oregon”, etc., I asked if he was hungry, he was a little non-committal on food (I thought) so I figured I would just take him to see some Memphis sites. Little did I know that because he was training for a marathon that he was ALWAYS hungry, keep this in mind as the story progresses.
We left the airport in my sporty little Acura and as I was passing someone to get on to the exit ramp I thought I heard him whispering a prayer to get him back to the airport safely. My dad was a detective and taught me to drive, I drove fast but safe. We drove through downtown and I showed him some cool places and then I said I don’t live far would you like to go see the Mississippi River?
My apartment in Harbortown had a big bay window that looked out on the river and I thought he would like the scenery. So, we went to my apartment. After arriving I asked if he wanted a little snack, I did not see the “I am starving here woman” look he gave me. I still hear about how hungry he was today, but in my defense, he did not say that he needed some food or he was going to pass out!
Since I was single, I did not cook much, well, hardly ever, so I pulled out my limited refrigerator findings of watermelon and strawberries. Now, don’t let any red flags go up because the Park Ranger is an old fashioned, perfect gentleman, so the fact that he came to my apartment was perfectly innocent.
We talked and walked along the river, I was in awe of his kindness, gentleness, yet rugged good looks and masculinity. We talked about our lives, background, everything you talk about on a first date. It was getting late and I would have to get him back to the airport soon so we loaded back up into my car and headed back. After looking at my watch, we were running a little late so I had to go faster, I heard him praying again for safety.
We arrived at the Northwest drop-off and I got out to help him with his bag out of the trunk. He started digging into his bag and pulled out a card and handed it to me. My birthday had been two weeks before and he had been kind enough to get me a card.
We hugged goodbye and I leaned over and gave him a little peck, it was intended as a sweet, innocent peck. I knew this was make or break time, I really liked him and wanted him to have no doubt about the fact that I was interested. He looked a little caught off guard, bewildered. And, then he raced toward his gate because he was about to miss his plane or I had scared him to death. Thank goodness he was a runner, or he would miss his plane. As he headed in, my whole body shivered and I knew, it confirmed the feeling I had when I saw him walking up the tarmac, he was the man of my dreams, the one God had planned for me. I was going to marry this man. Now, he had to figure that out.
Read Chapter 9: He Said~ The Ranger’s Version of Our First Date