dear sparklet,

this is the third in a series of letters to baby sparklet about how mommy and daddy met and woo-ed each other.

it’s pretty difficult to pick out one event that would qualify as a first date.

the first thing we did together outside of work was go to Ben’s Chili Bowl. however, it was for lunch, and bridesmaid Mel was nice enough to chaperon that little event.  i am pretty sure those two things disqualify Ben’s from the “first date” competition.

(that was also my first hot dog is several years, and i can still remember how my stomach ached after that was all over…)

several weeks later, the lady sparkler and i went for a hike in Shenandoah national park … and barely survived. we made the mistake of hiking down (to some waterfalls on hazel mountain) instead of up.

hiking downhill seemed like a good idea for the first six miles, and proved to be easy enough that we kept going farther than we had planned. we were having a great time talking, laughing, and poking t.l.s. with a stick (well, that last part was mostly me…)

unfortunately, the six miles back uphill to the car sucked most of the will to live out of our poor, frail, out-of-shape, trying-to-impress-each-other-with-our-outdoorsyness bodies.

we stayed on the trail two hours longer than we had planned, which meant what had been planned as a day event now required dinner, which was a first for us.

and so, our first dinner date (however accidental) was at a ruby tuesday’s in warrenton on the way back to DC. to this very day, the sonora chicken pasta i had that night is just about my favorite comfort food on the planet.

now, i was mostly a vegetarian when i met the lady sparkler … i did eat some meat (almost all of it was chicken), i never cooked any dead animals at home, and never ate meat more than once or twice a month (i guess you could say that i was a social carnivore.)

so it was much to my surprise that after our hike, i found us talking about barbecue — which is not something I talk about much, so i’m guessing the lady sparkler must have brought up.

to keep up with the conversation, i found myself telling her that she should come up to Glover Park to try the ribs at Rockland’s, regardless of the fact that i had no earthly idea what they tasted like and would probably faint watching someone eat them.

she thought it sounded great.

so, while i had successfully arranged our first “alone” date back in DC, i had also managed to create a rather awkward situation. whatever meat i was eating at the time, i can assure you that it wasn’t anything that looked like it was once alive, much less slaughtered, cooked over an open flame, and hacked into little strips.

that next weekend, we met at Rocklands, and ordered at the counter.  me: a cute little array of sides (coleslaw, mac and cheese, potato salad).  my future wife: a huge slab of meat.

and so, i watched my wife-to-be pack away half a rack of ribs.

when finished, she proceeded to suck the marrow from the bones, and then lick her fingers clean. i kissed goodbye whatever vegetarian tendencies i had, right then and there.

and the rest, as they say, is history.