You know how in romcoms when the lead male and female run into each other in a unique way, it’s called a “meet cute?” No? Oh, well it is. It’s called a meet cute.
Serendipity is the ideal example – John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale meet when they both reach for the same pair of gloves. In The Wedding Planner, Matthew McConaughey (I will never not have to look up how to spell his name) saves J Lo from getting run over. (Actually, is that how they actually meet in that movie? I don’t remember.)
There’s about 150,000 other examples of great meet cutes from films, movies and books, and almost all of them involve elevators. (For those of you who are just now realizing that this is a thing and would like to learn more, there’s a great montage of meet cutes in the first episode of The Mindy Project.)
Anyway, most people go through life and meet their significant other at a bar, or at work or school or church, or online. But how boring, right?
I mean, think of how cute it is when fictional characters meet their meant-to-be forever love: “I met my husband when I was fired from my job and was carrying all of my desk stuff in a box that fell apart on the floor of an elevator so I burst into tears and this handsome stranger leaned over to help me pick everything up and I was startled, so I stood up so fast that my head broke his nose and he laughed while blood went everywhere and now we’re married.”
“Oh that’s sweet. I swiped right, and then he swiped right and…. I mean, we were in the same zip code, so…. Yeah.”
All of this is to say, I think that every girl, deep down, whether they’re willing to admit it or not, secretly hopes that they will meet their soulmate in a really unique way that will make for a great story.
So, this is the story of my meet cute.
I’m driving to work on my normal commute and I’ve reached the part of my morning in which typical Atlanta traffic turns a four-lane highway into a parking lot moving at a slower speed than your average amusement park’s lazy river. This is part of my normal routine, I’ve made peace with it. For about 15 minutes, all there is to do is stare at the car in front of me and decide whether they deserved the grace I showed them by allowing them to merge in front of me in traffic.
So, I will admit that on this particular day I was a little zoned out. Watching the joggers moving faster than me on the sidewalk, flipping through the radio stations, etc. Let the record show that I wasn’t on my phone, though.
So I’m doing that whole pull forward two feet, hit the brakes, move one foot, brake, move three feet, brake, sit in traffic routine. I see everyone moving and take my foot off the brake to roll forward, take my eyes off the road for like two seconds max, look back to the road, see the car in front of me is RIGHT there and hit the brakes but oh wait, too late, I slam into the car.
The beautiful, mint condition, Mercedes Benz in front of me.
I’ve unfortunately been in a few minor fender benders in my life – NONE OF THEM MY FAULT UNTIL NOW, THANK YOU VERY MUCH – so I know what a light tap that leaves no damage feels like. This is not that. This is a slam. I slammed into this car.
So I start panicking, and I start hyperventilating, and watch as a hand extends from the driver’s window in front of me and motions that I follow the car to a little side road we’re about to pass. So I follow.
I really don’t panic easily, but I’m just getting all riled up because I’m so angry with myself, you know? It was a little, stupid mistake and I’m 100% certain it’s going to wind up being a very expensive little, stupid mistake, and I’m just frustrated with myself.
So the Benz has parked in front of me, and I pull into park, and the person in front of me gets out of the car. And I just sit there, staring, because this is an unbelievably attractive man. He is tall, handsome, and incredibly well put together. And he looks a lot, and I mean a lot, like Dick from Veronica Mars, aka Ryan Hansen. He also isn’t wearing a wedding ring.
It suddenly occurs to me that I look like an absolute disaster. My makeup that morning had been minimal, if at all, because I got a late start. In an effort to keep my blouse from getting wrinkled during the drive, it’s hanging in the back seat and I’m simply a black came that I realize right now has a giant white deodorant mark on both sides. The worst though, is that my dark hair is currently a suspicious white color because I sprayed with dry shampoo and haven’t fully brushed it out yet.
I don’t look like a movie star, is what I’m saying.
Anyway, all of this hits me as I stare at Ryan Hansen and I realize with a start that he’s staring at me too. Oh, right. He’s waiting for me to get out of the car so he can ask me why I slammed into him.
I hurry out of the car and do my absolute best to shrink in on myself so he notices absolutely none of the aforementioned glaring flaws. Doesn’t matter, because he’s not looking at me anymore, he’s leaning forward to examine the back of his car. This pulls his shirt up high enough that I see the waistband of his Captain America boxers and I decide I’m to marry this man.
I stare at his bumper. He stares at his bumper. I take advantage of his distraction to rub at the deodorant marks and dry shampoo. There is, miraculously, absolutely no damage. None. Zippo. Zilch. Nothing. This is unbelievable to me, and he and I are already clearly meant for each other because he agrees. “I mean, you hit me really hard,” as he says. Which is very accurate. Y’all he’s hot and he’s got brains, too.
So he keeps leaning in and inspecting the bumper of his car with a fine-tooth comb, still astonished there’s not damage. There’s some paint smudges, but they come off immediately when he rubs them with his thumb. Unlike my deodorant marks.
He says a few times that we should exchange insurance information just in case, and this is where I make my fatal error: I don’t immediately agree, take a picture of my insurance card and ask for his number so I can text it to him. I don’t insist that we exchange phone numbers. I don’t even TELL HIM MY NAME, for heaven’s sake. Remember: I am still in shock from hitting the car and panicking and angry with myself and I’m friggin’ starstruck BECAUSE THIS IS LOGAN’S BEST FRIEND FROM VERONICA MARS, so I just numbly nod. But before I can go back to the car and retrieve my insurance card, he stops me to say he doesn’t think it’s necessary and never mind, have a nice day, and peaces out.
I agree that there’s no damage, stutter out that is he sure he doesn’t need my info, all the while internally screaming at myself for not making a move, and he’s all, no there’s really no damage it’s all good, and leaves.
It is at this point that I turn around and look at my car bumper for the first time, and discover where all that damage actually went.
But that’s not Ryan Hansen’s fault, so I can’t really flag him down and demand his phone number. My chance is gone, driving away in his perfect, untouched Mercedes. So I get back in my car and drive to work where I recount the story to my entire office and they are deeply ashamed of my lack of pick-up skills.
I know, I know. Believe me. I’m just as disappointed in me, too.