When Papa and Mama Squish first met. 

As a young man in my early twenty's, I knew VERY little about computers. The internet was still relatively new, and only just beginning to really take off.

 

I worked for a furniture store, delivering very heavy furniture pieces for a living.....and the pay was less than what is today considered "minimum wage".

 

 

Every day I walked out of work so drenched in sweat that I looked like I had stepped into a shower with my clothes on. I went through deodorant like a man who has been lost in the desert for days, finally getting a drink of water.

 

 

One day a friend of mine called me up. She worked for a courier company and they had a job opening.

 

 

She asked me "Would you like to get paid a much larger amount, to drive around an air conditioned company car, and pick up and deliver PAPERWORK....JUST PAPERWORK..... between various shipping companies, airlines, Trucking companies, and the U.S. Customs office?"......"oh, and did I mention they had insurance benefits?"

 

 

Suddenly, my boss at the furniture store, heard what sounded like a gunshot, followed by the little bell over the front door of the store ringing. He looked up to see me gone, and the phone that had been in my hand was just spinning in mid-air for a second, before falling to the ground.

 

 

Needless to say, I applied for the job, and thankfully was hired. I spent the next few years at that job. I even received about three separate, decent sized raises while I was there.

 

 

While there, I rented a back room from some friends of mine (the same friend that called me about the courier job, and her husband), and moved in.

 

 

 

 

 

They set me up with my own account on their computer, which they kept in a separate office room, and showed me how to use the internet. I was a huge basketball fan, and thought the idea that I could always check game scores, and stats was fantastic. Then they introduced me to instant messaging.

 

 

Back then, we had AOL, as the service provider. For those that don't remember, back then AOL was EVERYWHERE.

 

 

They taught me how to set up a profile, that people could see, and then they could send me messages. I met a lot of interesting people that way. It didn't take me long at all to become very cautious about the people that were sending me those messages.

 

 

Then one Friday night, I was sitting at the computer after getting home from work. I was checking the NBA scores from the night before, and looking to see what games were scheduled for that night.

 

 

Suddenly an instant message popped up on my screen from a name I was not familiar with.

 

 

Always trying to be polite, in case it was an actual decent human being I proceeded to have a nice conversation with this person. It was a girl who had seen my profile, and saw that I lived in Stockbridge, Georgia at that time. She also lived in Stockbridge, and did not have a shy bone in her entire body, so she decided to chat.

 

 

It didn't take long for this conversation to become the most interesting thing I was doing, easily outweighing the basketball stuff. Before long, I forgot all about the NBA. Something about this girl just drew me in. Yes, I was cautious, but I was also a bit curious.

 

 

She asked me if I was familiar with a particular church there in Stockbridge. It turns out it was a church that was right up the road from where I lived. I passed it every day on my drive to and from work, and had already thought about checking it out on Sunday.

 

 

It turns out, this was her church.

 

 

We agreed that I would go there the following Sunday, but decided to meet up that night to get to know each other, first.

 

 

I kept thinking that I'm going to go out alone to meet a stranger. I'm a relatively careful person, and even then, I understood that this was potentially dangerous. However, I'm also a relatively large guy. I figured unless she was (what we now call) catfishing me, then this girl had more to be concerned with, coming to meet a strange man, than I did. I knew I wasn't any threat to her, so I decided to take the gamble and meet her. (Don't try this at home, kids).

 

 

I pulled into the church parking lot, and she was not there yet. So, I waited. A few minutes later, a small Dodge hatchback pulls into the parking lot, and out steps Angel ....who would later go on to become Mama Squish. (At this point, my inner happy dance began to go into a full on Broadway show). I think it might have won a Tony award that year.

 

 

We decided to go to a restaurant that she used to work at, and have dinner. Being a bit traditional, I insisted on paying, and she didn't seem to mind.

 

 

We quickly discovered we had one thing in common.....we were both VERY talkative people. As our own inner Bruce Lee's came out to have a kung-fu death match for air time between us, I knew that this was something new and special. Eventually we went back to the church parking lot, and said our goodbye's.

 

 

I went home with a deep sense of, what I guess can only be described as "giddiness", and she went to her home with a deep sense of "Geez, does he ever stop talking!?". Yet for reasons that only God could explain, she decided to see me again that Sunday....and the day after that.....and soon we were together every single day.

 

 

After just a few months, we were already discussing marriage, and I had already made up my mind that she was "the one".

 

 

I even began planning exactly how I would propose to her. Lucky for me, she was VERY forthcoming about her own ideas on that subject....to be perfectly honest, In the end, I just pulled bits of what she said together, and made a night of it. It almost felt like cheating.

 

 

On our six month anniversary, I got up and got ready. I was extremely nervous. Angel was teaching the small children for Sunday School that morning, so I knew she wasn't home.....but her father was.

 

 

I drove to their house, and knocked on his door....as I tried desperately to stop my stomach from vibrating, I was constantly reminding my breakfast that "NO!, it could NOT come back for an encore".

 

 

Her father answered the door, and immediately said "Hey, Angel's not here", and I said "I know. I'm actually here to talk to you". The look on his face made it very apparent that he immediately knew exactly why I was there....and wasn't all that thrilled about it (insert tense horror movie music here).

 

 

He invited me in, and we went into the Living room to sit down. I explained to him that I wanted his permission to marry his daughter. He was very polite and said he was o.k. with this.....as long as his daughter finished college first (You know the music that plays on the game show "The price is right, when someone fails at a game? Insert that sound here).

 

 

Mama Squish still had over 3 years of college left....and neither of us wanted to wait that long. Don't get me wrong. I was more than willing to wait that long if it was the best thing for her, and I did fully understand the logic in the idea, so I resigned myself to that. (Sorta).

 

 

I then went to the church to see Mama Squish. She was already pretty sure that I was going to ask her father, and I absolutely STUNK at keeping secrets from her, so when she saw me, she immediately asked "How did it go?".

 

 

I told her what her father said, and she basically said "Um....no, that's not happening". (O.k., I'm paraphrasing, but that's the basic idea. I don't really remember the exact words used).

 

 

(For the record, I'm glad that we didn't wait until she finished college....because that ended up not happening for almost 2 more decades.)

 

 

That night, I got all dressed up in a tuxedo, and had a rented Limo pick me up and take me to her house. She came out in a gorgeous black dress (I had to stop myself from getting out of the Limo with "Putting on the Ritz" by Taco, or "Sharp Dressed Man" by Z Z Top playing in the background....in retrospect, I really should have done it).

 

 

I handed her a bouquet of roses, and we got into the Limo to go to a fancy dinner at the "Sundial" restaurant in downtown Atlanta. For those not familiar with it, it was a large, fancy restaurant, on the top floor of a fancy hotel, that slowly revolved while you ate, giving you an ever-changing view of the city of Atlanta. It was easily the most expensive meal my southern redneck self had ever had.....and to be honest, it just wasn't my thing. (But the company was fantastic).

 

 

After we left, we walked out the front of the hotel, and were met by a horse and carriage. When Angel heard the bells on the horses, she smiled ear to ear, and loudly exclaimed "THEY HAVE JINGLE BELLS!". We climbed on board and rode it around Atlanta, and into Atlanta Centennial Park, which was all lit up with Christmas lights (this was in late November).

 

 

I had the carriage driver stop in the middle of the park, around all of the lights, and I turned, pulled out the ring, and asked her to marry me.

 

 

 

 

 

She said yes.

 

 

Suddenly a loud burst of cheering came from off to the side, and we realized we had an audience. I couldn't help but laugh.

 

 

From there, the carriage continued on through Atlanta, and at one stop light, the carriage driver waved at some tourists on the corner, that were taking pictures of the city, and said "Take a picture of them! They just got engaged!"......and as instructed, these complete strangers took positions, and snapped pictures of us......so now, somewhere in the world, there is a complete stranger with photos of the night my wife and I got engaged.

 

 

We were married just a hair under a year later (literally about a week and a half shy of the one year mark). That wedding was in 1999. We've been together ever since, and I thank God every day for her.

 

 

Until Next time.

 

 

 

 

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