In the present day, Arthur and I are preparing to attend a family wedding in a week or so. I’ve been looking through bachelorette party photos, reading posts about how the couple met, and getting excited for them. It’s made me reminisce about how Arthur and I wound up together, over fifteen years ago now.
“You have to meet his brother,” my friend told me, gushing about the guy she was dating. We were in the seventh grade, and I shrugged. I wasn’t really interested in the idea of being all mushy over someone, especially someone who went to a different middle school who I’d have to make an effort to see.
“His name is Arthur,” she went on, “and he is really nice.” I changed the subject.
Two years later, I was a shy, gawky 15 year-old high school freshman that was still struggling to bust out of the awkward-looking phase. I’d joined the school speech team at the urging of one of my English teachers, and this was my first competition. “Have you met Arthur?” one of my coaches asked, gesturing to a tall, slender boy.
Almost instantly, I remembered the name from the conversation with my friend, which piqued my interest. Even though my usual modus operandi was to stare at the floor nervously when getting introduced to new people, curiosity made me look up and straight into his eyes.
I have always loved grey, green, and blue eyes, probably because mine are brown. Both then and now, Arthur has the most gorgeous crystal blue eyes I’ve ever seen. “Hi,” I said. “I’m Katherine.”
Arthur introduced himself as well. We spent the rest of the day hanging out together at the meet. For anyone who hasn’t done competitive speech, meets consist of three preliminary rounds and then a final round for those who qualify. Meets last the entire day, and depending on the event, the first round might start as early as 8:00 with finals not starting until around 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon. Rounds last about an hour apiece, so unless you are competing in more than one event, there can be a lot of downtime between rounds.
It was late November, so the night was dark and snowy when we headed back for the bus, and I started to slip a little. Arthur reached out, steadied me, and then tucked my arm through his. “If you go down, we’ll both go down,” he said, smiling as he walked me to the bus.
A sort of giddy warmth flooded through me. I was glad it was dark because I’m sure I was blushing.
Strangely enough, I still didn’t think of Arthur as a potential boyfriend. As far as I was concerned, I liked him – a lot. I just didn’t figure he’d feel the same about me and I had no intentions of putting myself out there for potential rejection. Christmas break was approaching and I was busy. So I enjoyed the interaction and within a few weeks had largely put it out of my mind.
Arthur didn’t. I found out later he had spent almost the entire Christmas break talking with his brother, trying to pluck up the courage to ask me out.
When school resumed in January, due to the new class schedule I had for the semester, my appointed lunch hour changed. By some happy chance, Arthur happened to also wind up with the same lunch hour. Since we were on the speech team together, it made sense that he sat with me and some friends. We chatted. We laughed. Arthur walked me to class every day after lunch. I started developing a bit of a crush on him, but still didn’t expect anything to happen there.
Finally, one Friday, as we were walking to class after lunch, a friend who was walking with us decided to take decisive action. “What would you think about going out with him,” the friend asked me, gesturing to Arthur.
I wasn’t listening. I was preoccupied with the important biology lab I knew was next.
“Well,” said Arthur shyly, blushing a bit, “What would you think?”
“Huh?” I was vaguely aware something important had just happened, but wasn’t sure what that was exactly. I mentally rewound the conversation I’d only peripherally been aware of.
“Did you just ask me out?” I almost didn’t dare say it. My heart sped up. It couldn’t be that, I’d never had a guy I actually liked ask me out.
Arthur nodded. “Do you want to go out with me?”
“Oh, my gosh,” I squeaked. “Yes!”