To tell this story, I choose the oldest photo I could find of us. This is my birthday, 2003. Johnny Carinos, Idaho Falls.
This story takes place before then:
It was the fall, 2002, let's say. I had seen James in an ill-conceived Comic Frenzy show (done for a bunch of humorless newlyweds), and I thought he was cute, but, unfortunately, not funny. Apparently I was willing to look past this failing, and mentioned my crush to Jeff, a mutual friend. He responded with what I'm sure was an eye roll, and a comment like, yeah, you and everyone else. Case closed. I didn't want the crush equivalent of The DaVinci code. If everyone else liked him, I'd find someone else.
Or, maybe I'd just keep on liking him, and just let the crush idle until something else happened. We ran with the same group of friends, so we spoke. I started working with Comic Frenzy, so we spoke some more. He referenced The Picture of Dorian Gray in a joke and I thought, well, at least if he's not funny, he smart. And so on.
Then one day, Shiloh and I were walking through the Kirkham. I was wearing a denim pencil skirt that I was particularly fond of (I still have one--different skirt) and tights. Shiloh and I had just started down a sort of half set of stairs as Comic Frenzy left rehearsal and headed toward the same stairs. It wasn't a full flight, maybe 8 or so steps, but it was no step ladder. Just for the record, I happen to be pretty nimble, but that day my abilities failed me, and I tripped, sort of pirouetted (gracefully) in midair, and was headed down the steps headfirst, face-up. I don't remember falling exactly, but I do remember James, in a proto-Edward Cullen move, diving under me to catch me before I crashed into the very solid vending machine at the bottom of the stairs. As it was my head hit a steel trash can, which I found plenty embarrassing, and I asked, in a fairly baffled voice, what are you doing? And this part I remember distinctly: he said, in a voice so familiar and exasperated that I wouldn't hear again until after we were married, I'm trying to help you.
I said, oh, and then got up, took in the rest of Comic Frenzy piled up in the hallway, staring; said an unceremonious thank you or goodbye (who knows which), and got the h out of there.
For years, possibly still, Shiloh claimed this was her favorite story about us. After the sting of embarrassment wore off, and I found myself still pining for James, I also liked this story plenty.
Actually, I still do.
Also, he's gotten funnier.