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Before I thought of Lee as my husband, I thought of him as the cute-guy-with-the-mullet-that-passed-the-sacrament-and-wore-the-pink-tie. We ended up in the same weight training class my sophomore year. He was a senior. We flirted--well, I flirted, he bench pressed--and giggled--okay, I giggled, he laughed at the wacky things I would say--but eventually we decided to go on an actual date.
It was the night of what was supposed to be Lee's high-school graduation. He'd found out a week earlier that he wasn't graduating. He was .25 credits short in English but they hadn't caught it in time for him to make it up. Sorry. Never mind that his counselor had told him a year earlier that he would never amount to anything and he may as well drop out. He didn't drop out, but now he wasn't graduating all the same. My sister was graduating that night too and we were SUPPOSED to go to the graduation and sit in the audience with my parents. But from the very start I knew that it would be incredibly easy for me to say I simply didn't see them there and sat somewhere else. This was before cell phones, and graduation was at the Huntsman Center. It wasn't a stretch. And so we didn't go to the graduation ceremony (please don't tell my parents or my sister) First of all, who wants to watch all their friends graduate when they've been cut out of it? And second, we were stupid teenagers. Instead of attending the graduation we broke into a cabin up little cottonwood canyon. We thought it was Lee's friend's uncle--which of course made it okay--but in a quirky twist of weird fate, it turned out to belong to the counselor in our bishopric, a point I learned a year later when we went up there for a Young Womens planning night. Creepy.
So, we go to this cabin and . . .FAST FORWARD . . . decided it was time to go home--the graduation ceremony had been over for about an hour. I put the leftover hot dogs and root beer in a bag (he's said I could HAVE it--is that sweet or what?) It was May, and there was still a lot of snow on the ground. There was a foot path that wound around some cabins up to the parking lot, but it was kinda long so Lee suggested we just go up the hill.
I say, "But I'm in a dress and I paid $9 at Payless for these white leather (i.e. plastic) boots with the cut out stars and the rhinestones on them that don't have any traction."
He says, "I'll help you, we'll be fine."
Then he holds my hand, and dang but I was happy to walk through three foot snow drifts in my traction-free cut out boots if I got to hold his hand. So we start up--and it's not too bad. The snow is frozen so I manage to stay on top of the crust and every time I slide he held on a little tighter. So far, this was totally working for me.
We're almost half way up and the snow drops down to where it melted away from the trunk of a huge pine tree. We're right next to the branches, but have about ten feet of no snow until the drift starts up again.
And then we hear the growl.
Not a small little whimpering growl that says "You're bigger than me and I'm scared" this was a low, long, deep growl that says "Dinner."
We both freeze and then we take off--except that Lee actually moves while I spin in place on wet soggy pine needles, holding tight to the bag of hot dogs and root beer. Somehow he lets go of my hand, which was nice in that it allows me to use that hand to help claw my way over the frozen snow drift, but bad in the sense that he'd totally abandoned me. I'm stepping on my skirt, clutching the bag and still getting no traction. Lee has now reached the top and yells down "Hurry."
So I pull up the skirt of my dress, drop the bag in hopes that the bear will find hot dogs ample substitute for my calves, and punch it. I sink in the snow this time--which was rather cold on my bare legs now exposed due to the fact that I've had to hike my skirt all the way up to move my legs, the snow is pouring into my star cut out boots but I claw, crawl my way up to the top where Lee is waiting for me.
The look on his face when I reach him clues me in to the fact that my skirt is cinched around my waist. I drop it, then he looks me in the face. "I thought you were right behind me."
"Whatever--you got to the top and yelled for me to hurry when I hadn't moved a foot! I'm in a skirt and stupid boots, for cryin out loud, you coulda helped me a little."
"Well, I knew one of us might need to go for help."
We're half an hour from "help", and the bear would be picking his teeth with my ribs by the time Lee got back to me. But his comment reminds both of us that we were running from something so we hurry to the car, get in and lock the doors. We drive a quarter mile before I make him stop so I can empty the snow out of my boots. My skirt is soaked, I'm freezing, AND I lost the hot dogs. I'm not a happy starry-eyed 16 year old anymore. Good thing we'd taken care of the kissing at the cabin cause I wasn't in any mood for it anymore.
But then he reaches across the emergency brake, takes my hand, and with his other hand turns up the MC Hammer Tape. I feel my desire not to kiss this guy fading as MC croons in the background. It's hammer go hammer MC hammer yo hammer and the rest can go and play, Can't touch this.
How can a girl hold her resolve in a situation like that?
"Are you okay?" he asks with those melty blue eyes.
"Do you want to go out next week so I can make it up to you?"
I nod again. "A Drive-in, maybe?"
And the rest, as they say is history.
(Disclaimer--I in no way mean to condone not-graduating from high school, breaking and entering, pre-marital partial nudity, lying to family members, being alone with a cute guy in a cabin, or littering. I would also like to point out that Lee worthily served a mission six months after this, we married in the temple and it is now perfectly okay that he sees me half naked. And no, we never found out what was in that tree--we did go to the drive-in though.)