I met Mr. Idaho in a parking lot between Coeur d’Alene’s big resort hotel and the trailhead of a path that meanders beside the lake. I normally wouldn’t meet a stranger for a hike, but this guy had been referred to me by Sarah, the sweet girl I couchsurfed with back in Salem, Mass. Plus I’d seen a ton of people hiking this trail the day before when I’d walked the boardwalk with my parents. I didn’t figure he could drag me kicking and screaming into the woods to kill me without attracting some attention from fellow hikers.
It was a cloudy day but the views were still amazing. We stopped and stood on big rocks looking out over the lake, and he pointed out which ones you can jump off of. It was easy to picture him as a teenager, spending lazy days here with his buddies. It was hard to picture him laying in a hospital bed, immobile, but that’s right where he’d been a few years before.
After a rappelling accident that dropped him the equivalent of two and a half stories, his mom got a phone call saying that if he ever woke up from the coma, he’d never walk again. The fact that he’s back to normal today is nothing short of a miracle. And here he was, helping me scramble over boulders and fallen trees.
We talked about everything. He guessed I was an only child. He’s the oldest of five. We talked about family dynamics and our roles in our own families. We talked about our childhoods and our churches and our hopes for the future. We had a lot in common. And a pretty good amount of chemistry. He took my water bottle and put it in his pocket so I wouldn’t have to carry it. I thought that was gentlemanly. But then he took my now empty hand. Smooth.
I thought it was a little weird, since I’d just met him, but then I thought about how just that morning as I drove to the date, I’d been thinking about how no one does that nowadays. Guys jump straight to the making out without the preliminary hand holding or hugging. I dated a guy several years ago who’d made me melt the first time he held my hand; his thumb traced small circles around my palm as his fingers lay entwined with mine. I wondered if guys knew how sensual hand holding could be, or if they even cared. Call me old fashioned, but I like the baby steps.
We got back to the trailhead and headed for downtown Coeur d’Alene. We bypassed the shops and galleries and headed straight for Hudson’s, home of the best burgers in town. The place was packed and we were lucky to get two barstools right behind the guy flipping burgers. Mr. Idaho said he was a germaphobe and had to go wash his hands, which made my heart skip a beat. A kindred spirit! I wanted to go wash my hands, too, but people just kept pouring in to this little hole in the wall, and I was afraid if I wasn’t there to guard our barstools, we’d lose our seats. I opted for the hand sanitizer in my purse.
The waitress came by after we'd finished our burgers and asked if we wanted any pie. We declined. Mr. Idaho said his senior yearbook quote had been, “I like two kinds of pies, apple pies and cutie pies.” Groan. But still kind of cute. Oh who am I kidding? He was really cute. I was smitten.
We headed back out onto the street and stopped in at an art gallery. I got the Idahoan themes of horses and mountains, but I wondered who on earth would pay $1200 for a six-foot tall canvas of some guy’s face, and where exactly in your house you’d want to display that. I liked the landscape photography better and said I should blow up some of the pictures I’d taken when I got done with the trip. We talked about where in the world we’d been and where we wanted to go. He wanted to go to Buenos Aires, and I didn’t tell him, but I wanted to go with him. I didn’t want to creep him out.
He had to go to work, so the date had to come to an end. We stood on the sidewalk hugging for a long time. He smelled so good and his vest was so cushiony . . . I’m sure anyone who saw us thought we were a bit odd, but I wasn’t going to be the first to pull away. He kissed my cheek and I melted a little more.
“I really hope I see you again,” I said as he walked away. “You’re dreamy.”
Dreamy? Who tells someone they’re dreamy? Marcia Brady? Ugh. Nice impression to leave him with . . .