Back when I did the vlog, several of you said “share the deets!” on how Mr. Whitaker and I met.
You asked, I dish. Honestly, I’ve been wanting to write this down for a long while. I really, really hope this doesn’t embarrass the kids someday. But, I hope they know just how much I love their dad. Like, six kids kind of love.
I arrived on campus at Texas A&M in awe of it all. I loved the traditions, the environment, my classes (well, except Chem 101 and Econ) and those boys in uniform. The fall semester, I pledged a sorority (Go ChiO!) and started making friends. My classes were pretty fabulous, especially my Ag 101 class. Being in the College of Agriculture was just awesome. Call it my 4-H roots, but I just felt so at home there. I’m sharing this because it will be important later. Hang with me.
September came and went, and by October, I realized that our sorority had a date party coming up and I had no date! You see, in high school I was the girl that never got asked out. You know the one, the guys always came to her for dating advice and then dated her friends? Yes, that was me. No need to re-hash my dating history here, but suffice to say, boys made me nervous. At Fish Camp (freshman orientation) I scored an awesome awesome DG Leader (discussion group). We even shared the same birthday and a love for men in uniform. Clearly, she was legit. When I mentioned to Laurie that I was looking for a boy to take to my upcoming date party, she smiled and said, “I know just the guy.” They were on Traditions Council together and she said he had pretty blue eyes.
A few days later, she called and gave me the low-down on this Scott guy. Because this was pre-cell phone, pre-texting, pre-email days (wow, I sound old), she shared my number with him and he called and invited me to lunch. In Duncan Dining Hall. With 2,000 cadets. Nope, not intimidating at all. After asking around, I discovered I needed to wear a dress and be prepared for lots of yelling and antics in the chow hall. I half expected to see Noah Wylie and Jack Nicholson walking around.
Scott called and you should’ve heard the squealing in my dorm suite. I had a roommate and two suitemates who were all cheering me on. But, it was probably my sorority sister who was my biggest cheerleader. I quite nearly backed out of the date. Jessica assured me all would be well. “And, hey, it’s lunch. If it’s a total failure, you’ve only wasted an hour.” I don’t remember much of that phone call except asking Scott what he looked like. How ever would I find him from the sea of khaki on the Quadrangle that housed all the cadets? “Oh, I’m the tall, dark and handsome one,” he said. “How will I recognize you,” he asked. I was quick to reply, “I’m the one that’s short, sweet and beautiful.”
This was pretty much the blindest of blind dates ever. My first blind date in high school ended with a guy who was a balloon salesman, drove a station wagon and took me to Luby’s and told me to get the Delight Plate because it was cheaper. True story. And it’s even funnier over margaritas.
I showed up to the Quad, wearing one of my favorite western skirts and denim shirt, probably pretty close to this outfit, minus the hat. I was such a sneaky snake, too. My dorm was just down from the Quad, so I was able to get a good glimpse of the archway, where we were supposed to meet, and spy on him before charging ahead with the date. I spotted him immediately. Oh man, he was handsome. Powering through the nerves, I walked up and introduced myself. He smiled, shook my hand and said, “You hungry?”
Um, not anymore! All I remember from the walk to the chow hall was how fast he walked. He still does. He was a sophomore, which meant that he had a teeny bit more hair than the bald freshman cadets walking around. One poor unsuspecting fish made the mistake of trying to “whip out” to Scott while we were walking. That’s Corps-speak for introducing himself. That was the first time I saw Scott get ruffled. He looked at that poor fish and said, “Beat it. I’m on a date.” I learned later that Scott was one of the meanest Piss Heads (aka sophomores) around.
It’s about now I think I should provide everyone with a dictionary of Texas A&M and Corps terms.
This may very well be one of my most favorite memories of our early dating years. We entered Duncan and it was a ZOO. Complete and total. You know, imagine a roomful of cadets in uniform all angling for top dog. And then a girl walks in, in a dress. Bring it. We got our food, settled on a table and sat down for a nice lunch, just the two of us. And here come all of Scott’s buddies. And his Corps Outfit advisor, Major O’Hern, with his two-year-old son. Not quite the romantic lunch I envisioned. To make matters worse, I chose pizza and salad for lunch. Worst foods ever to eat on a first date.
Turns out some of those buddies that sat down to eat with us are some of our dearest friends to date. In fact, one of them served as a groomsman at our wedding. Roderick and Scott go way back. In later years at A&M, Rod and I served as Fish Camp counselors together and the circle of life came back ’round again.
We ended lunch with a side hug and a “thanks, let’s do it again.” He was definitely a keeper but I couldn’t muster the courage to ask him to the date party that weekend. Fortunately, I had something tasty up my sleeve. That’s next time!