When I first realized I had a crush on Scott, I tried to talk myself out of it.
Before heading into a local burger joint for a friend’s birthday party, I sat in my car and psyched myself up to see him. I looked in the rearview mirror, pointed sternly, and told myself in no uncertain terms that he would never like me back and the whole crush was pointless. What could he see in a geek like me?
My self-scolding failed. The second I walked in and saw Scott, my resolve crumbled. It didn’t matter that he was wearing ridiculous seafoam green bell bottoms and suspenders—an appropriate costume for the party’s next stop at a retro bar that exclusively plays disco. His sprained ankle was propped up, his crutches leaning against the wall. But he was determined to join the party. Bless him, he found a Zenith ankle brace on Amazon apparently, and was determined to at least hit the dance floor once.
We sat next to each other and started talking easily. For the past two years Scott and I had been developing a friendship beyond the purview of my older brothers’ friend. We’d known each other for eight years, but it wasn’t until I got to college that we ever spent any time alone together. Before I realized my feelings for him, the thought of being awkward around Scott hadn’t occurred to me. He was just Scott, the guy who played Rock Band in my parents’ basement or invented elaborate games of catch with my brothers. Once I liked him, he became the older, attractive guy who was more athletic than I could ever dream of being and had a Master’s degree in music performance. His talent and confidence suddenly became roadblocks.
Or so I thought. At the birthday party that spring, Scott tried to show me my feelings were mutual. After dinner, I decided that I didn’t want to go out, and he cited his sprained ankle as an excuse. We ended up going to my parents’ house and watching Paranormal Activity because I’m a complete horror movie buff and am addicted to terrifying myself into insomnia. Scott agreed to my movie choice so casually, I was shocked to discover months later that he hates horror movies. He never watches them anymore. That night, he agreed to Paranormal Activity just so we could do something together.
I should have realized his feelings earlier, but I’d convinced myself it would never happen. I’d never had great success with boyfriends. Either they didn’t like me enough or I got tired of them, and eventually I tried to stop liking anyone. By the time I graduated, it had been years since I’d felt intensely about anyone and my feelings for Scott intimidated the hell out of me. I couldn’t like him. If I hinted at it, I knew he’d stomp on my heart eventually.
I have been a deep and abiding geek since birth. I loved the Harry Potter books with an intensity that can only be called obsession—for the midnight release of book seven, my friends agreed to be the Death Eater minions to my Voldemort. I’ve always loved school. Researching primary documents about Henry VIII’s reign actually interests to me. Who wants to date someone who gets legitimately excited about the latest production of Shakespeare?
Scott called me up a couple days after the birthday party. He said that he was watching the extended version of The Lord of the Rings trilogy and asked if I wanted to join him.
“Of course!” I replied, practically squealing with delight. “I have some M&M’s leftover from the other night. Should I bring them over?”
“Of course!” he replied with equal enthusiasm.
To this day, both of us consider that movie-watching M&M-eating afternoon our first date. He wanted to ask me to spend the night, but my brother crashed the party. Ben waltzed in toward the end of The Return of the King and decided the best use of his time would be to plant himself next to the TV and start riffing on the movie. Scott thought twice about making a move.
Our shared love of The Lord of the Rings was just the beginning. The more time we spent together, the more I understood that Scott was just as much of a geek as I am. I kept expecting him to reach his limit each time I mentioned something I loved—like my lengthy theorizing about when the first form of writing was invented. But it never happened. As I watched him get excited about his own interests, I realized something: Scott was far better for me than I ever thought he would be. This is a man who has seen every episode of Futurama multiple times and can practically quote them all. A man who plays disc golf on a regular basis, a geeky sport if there ever was one. He was the first person I’d ever met who got excited by a song with an interesting key change.
The night we kissed for the first time, we watched Roland Emmerich’s masterpiece of cinema Independence Day. My family watches it every year on the Fourth of July, and I never get sick of listening to Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum squabble about how to blow up aliens. I discovered that Scott loved the movie too and decided I could watch it two nights in a row. Keep in mind, this was after a house party that consisted of playing drinking games to Futurama and eating IHOP at two in the morning with all of our friends. When my last sober friend dropped us off and announced she was going home, Scott decided he wasn’t ready for bed. I wasn’t about to protest. We put in the movie.
At some point, he asked if I’d be comfortable leaning against him. Why yes, yes I would. This is my favorite part of figuring out whether the guy you have feelings for also has feelings for you. When you lean against someone who likes you, you can hear his or her heartbeat speed up.
The movie ended. One of our friends was passed out on the couch. We stood up and I made noises about going to bed. We were both still a little drunk and our breath, as a whole, smelled awful. Then, he kissed me.
When we decided we really should go to bed, he came upstairs with me and we ended up laying on my bed and talking (yes, really) for another hour and half until the sun came up and shone boldly through my blinds. We slept for about three hours, and then joined my parents and younger brother downstairs. Under the auspices of showing my little brother how he had been working on his guitar skills, Scott proceeded to play “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.”
How could I not fall in love with him?
As our relationship blossomed, Scott read all the Harry Potter books because he got tired of listening to my friends and I engage in sprawling conversations he couldn’t understand. He also enjoyed them, although with a little less zeal. For the midnight premiere of the last movie, my friends and I decided we had to get in costume. Yes, it was July, sweaters and scarves and robes are a necessity to the ensemble. Scott let me dress him up as a Slytherin despite his being a Hufflepuff at heart and gamely sneered in all the photos we took beforehand. In fact, costumes have become a part of our shared geekery. I’ve always loved dressing up for parties and Scott has enthusiastically joined in. We have carefully crafted and wrapped togas and planned out couple’s costumes like Carmen Sandiego and the Statue of Liberty, Fry and Leela. We take any reason we can to show up to a party in costume.
I discovered his geek side as well. Scott introduced me to new music, like the delightful bluegrass of Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, and Erykah Badu, whom I listened to nonstop for several weeks after he transferred the music to my iPod. In the first months of our relationship, we would listen to her album together and the track “Turn Me Away (Get MuNNY)” morphed into our song. Yes, we decided the song that best represented our romance was about a gold digger trying to get with a guy for his money. Trust me, the groove is awesome.
I also know more about science and space than I ever would have bothered to learn before dating Scott. In fact, I’ve thought about much more than I ever did before we started dating. His insistence at thinking carefully through a problem means I no longer have the luxury of throwing out an unscrutinized idea. I think his constant willingness to question is what led to his love of science, and he never lets me get away with my hastily formed value judgments.
I know now why I was so bad at dating before. I kept talking myself into liking guys whose own geek interests didn’t complement my own, guys who I could never admit my secret stash of fanfiction to. I never dated a guy who could kick my ass at Scrabble. I wasn’t looking for the right person.
For a long time I based my expectations off my favorite couples. I wanted to find the Darcy to my Elizabeth or the Wash to my Zoe or the Will to my Lyra. It didn’t occur to me that I should have been looking for the Scott to my Gabs all along.
Wedding photos via B. Sharp Photography.