I see him from across the room, he is wearing a three piece suit. A three piece suit? The material is gray and dull and I an unable to determine from what the suit is made. But whatever it’s made of, the suit is intimidating. He laughs a booming laugh that scares me and thrills me simultaneously. His name is Peter and he is talking with my friend Denny. To be more specific he is entertaining my friend Denny. I am terrified by his height, he is over six feet and he has a defensive lineman’s build. We are in French class and he squeezes himself into the desk directly in front of me on a daily basis.
I try talking to him several times but I am too scared; he is a senior, a football player and a tall red head. I am smitten but convinced I will never be able to talk to him. I am a lowly sophomore. After many attempts and several awkward face to face stand offs, I see my opportunity to talk to him. I was just finishing up cheerleading practice and he was waiting for his nana to pick him up, so we were in the same vicinity, alone. Peter walks over to me and smiles. I mumble “Hihowareyoudidyougetthefrenchhomework?” He looks at me and says“What?” I begin to laugh hysterically (an obnoxious habit that happens when I am nervous) and he starts to join me in laughter. So we are both standing in the hallway in front of the office, laughing at God knows what.
I look to the wall and see a sign for the Sadie Hawkins dance* and before I could stop myself I asked him if he would like to go with me. I don’t know what happened, I am so pissed at myself. I don’t even know this dude and now I have to go to a dance with him. I was so busy beating myself up I barely heard him respond in the affirmative. It wasn’t until years later that I found out that he had been trying to muster the courage to talk to me as well. The best part is that he is more nervous and intimidated than me. Our date night is amazing. Well, not so much amazing as nerve wracking and odd. He took me to a fancy sushi restaurant. Now as a fifteen year old I had heard of sushi but never tried it. I wasn’t even sure if the rumors were true. Was sushi really RAW fish? I was about to find out.
Once we were done eating, the check is placed on the table and I could not help but wonder how much this yummy yet raw fish costs. The check read $110.00. I try to contain my shock and surprise. He spent that much money on me! One-hundred dollars on me! In my mind One hundred dollars could have brought a Benetton sweater or a couple of skirts at Nordstrom. With this new information this date becomes real serious, real quick. It was a that point that I realized Peter liked me and I liked him. He would later tell me that he thought my first experience with sushi was “adorable” and unforgettable.
Peter and I drive to the dance, which was uneventful. I do remember everyone at the dance commented on my boobs and how they were falling out of the red satin dress I was wearing. In high school I was one of those girls who didn’t realize that I even had big boobs until it was mentioned over and over and over. We didn’t stay at the dance very long as Peter hated to dance and hated crowds dancing around him.
The pinnacle of the night is when Peter and I were alone in his nana’s Pontiac, in my driveway. He offered to walk my into my house and I was floored by his manners. I thought for sure he wanted to make out, so of course I said yes. The surprising part of the evening was before we were to go upstairs and make-out, Peter asked if I would like to go steady. What the hell does going steady mean? Do I get jewelry out of this going steady deal? Cause if jewelry is involved I. Am. Down. I had no idea that a simple yes would mean that I committed the rest of my life to Peter, but he did.
During our marriage Peter would tell me he knew that night he would marry me. Obviously he knew something I didn’t. However on that first date I learned that Peter was someone I wanted in my life forever. He protected me from the evils of the world as well as the evils of my head. From that day until the day he died he made me feel safe, he made me more than just O.K.; he made me whole. As a fifteen year old girl who was dealing with an absent mother and a traumatic past, he was my savior in a three piece suit.
Peter and I had a Shakespearian type love affair, complete with feuding, disapproving parents, grand gestures of love and hate and, most importantly, passion. It was as if the eighteen years he experienced before he met me prepared him for the whirling dervish that is Tanisha. Sometimes that first date seems like yesterday, but mostly I know it is light years from where I am in my life now. The part that I struggle with, the part that I find difficult to handle, is when that scared fifteen year old peeks her head out, my savior is not there to save me. My challenge now is figuring out how to save myself.