They say opposites attract, but Mr. North Carolina was pretty much the male version of myself and we had a blast! I was told to meet him at the church where he works but didn’t know anything beyond that. The date was set up by my friend Jana’s parents (who go to that church), so I was comfortable not knowing exact details of what was going to happen that day. It was actually really fun, letting him kind of surprise me throughout the day, because with most of the dates I know exactly what’s going on. It’s a safety issue, knowing where I’m going and not just hoping into a car with a random stranger, so I can tell my Chief Safety Officer where to look for me should I go missing. But since he was the youth worker at a friend’s parents’ church, I knew he wouldn’t have been hired if he hadn’t passed a background check.
We met mid-afternoon and headed to downtown Raleigh. The first surprise? A rickshaw ride! The driver, Donald, handed me a long-stemmed red rose, filled our champagne glasses with Sprite, and turned on the romantic music. Mr. North Carolina & I clinked glasses and off we went.
We pedaled around the downtown area, checking out the historical sights. We saw the first skyscraper in Raleigh (a whopping four stories!), the governor’s mansion, and the capitol building. And statues. Lots and lots of statues. I guess there are a lot of famous North Carolinians. (Carolinans? Carolinians? We debated.) Looking at one statue, I said, “Is this the bronze version of the eternal flame?”
Mr. North Carolina started singing, “Is this burning an eternal flaaaaaame . . .” Whoo-hoo! I’d found a “randomly-bursts-into-song” kindred spirit. I complimented him on his Bangles cover as we toodled along.
At one point we drove right between two big museums where a massive amount of elementary kids were obviously enjoying a field trip. Cue the open-mouthed stares!
“Who is that?” I heard one kid ask another.
“They probably think I’m Jackie Chan,” Mr. North Carolina said. Kids pointed and waved. I felt a little weird, but then I thought why not and waved back. Some of the chaperone moms awwwed at us. I bet they wished they’d get taken out for a rickshaw ride with someone who’d give them a long-stemmed red rose and some champagne. Well, Sprite . . . but seriously, who drinks champagne at three in the afternoon on a Thursday?
We had a great time being peddled around the downtown area, and Donald was a fun tour guide. We had to get back to the church because of the Maundy Thursday service, but when it was over, we headed back out for dinner. We ate at this cool little place Mr. North Carolina was a fan of. It was in a converted warehouse and specialized in Asian cuisine. He ordered for us -- heat seeker shrimp, dumplings, scallion pancakes, and crispy green beans -- and not only did I try everything, but I did it all with chopsticks! That’s right -- farm girl learned how to eat without a fork. Yay, Mr. North Carolina for making the date not only fun but educational, too.
“You know how you got Eternal Flame stuck in your head earlier?” I asked. When he nodded, I continued. “Well, you know how in the sermon the pastor was talking about the final this and the final that during Jesus’ last week? All I could think was, doodaloodoo, doodaloodootdoo, doodaloodoo, doodaloodootdoo . . .”
“Yes!” He joined me in singing, “It’s the final countdown!” Finally! A man who totally gets my dorkiness!!
“Hey, do you know what was the best show ever?” he asked.
“Arrested Development!” I shot back. High five over the table. (It was one character’s theme song for his magic show . . . if you’ve never seen it, you won’t get it. Just be wowed that we read each others’ minds.)
I pretty much waddled out of the restaurant, absolutely stuffed. We drove down the street to a “Raleigh institution” where we picked up vanilla shakes and apple turnovers, then drove to a really tall building. Two of his friends were waiting in the parking garage to let us into the building, and for a moment I feared Mr. North Carolina was going to make me base jump off or rappel down this building as some kind of grand finale. But nope -- we just got to enjoy the view. We ate our tasty apple turnovers (I know, I know, I said I was stuffed, but there’s always room for dessert, right?) while he pointed out different things around the area.
On the way back to the church, we talked a lot about youth ministry, something we obviously have in common, and it made me miss my teenagers back in Colorado. Mr. North Carolina is passionate about what he does, and I admire that. It seems to me that a lot of people work just to pay the bills rather than doing something they love or that they feel makes a difference in the world. He’s doing both. Awesome guy. Awesome date. Thanks, Jana’s mom!! :)