Exactly two years ago, my friend looked at me across the table and exclaimed with a gasp, “You need to get that wing sauce off your face before he gets here!”
As a twenty-three year old who referred to “he” as “the Hot Guy” I very briefly met four months ago and whose number I wanted tonight, the idea of greeting him with wing sauce all over my face was horrifying.
So with that, my friend and I stood from the table and raced to the restroom where I could make myself look presentable.
It was her birthday and a group of us were celebrating at a casually-cool upscale Mexican restaurant. (Don’t ask why we were eating buffalo wings at a Mexican restaurant—it was one of those trendy, city places that was only dubbed Mexican because it specialized in overpriced tacos and margaritas.) There were seven at our table, and I didn’t know anyone but the birthday girl.
The eighth in our party was running a little late because he just got off work and, needless to say, I was anxious to remeet the Hot Guy. The first time we met didn’t count—my friend and I were at a downtown bar when we bumped into him, and she excitedly told me how they were close friends. There was the standard “Oh my god, I can’t believe you’re here too!” that happens when you see a friend out late at night, and then our groups went their separate ways. Four months later, I was determined to make a really good first impression.
You see, that night two years ago I was in the midst of my personal rock bottom. No, seriously… it was bad. Recent heartbreak, surgery, death of a good friend, unemployment, and, consequently, broker than broke. That’s okay though, because in the next two years Jake and I were to discuss that the seemingly terrible timing influenced our instantaneous raw emotional connection. We were to lift one another up and grow together in ways I never imagined with a partner—and that strength continues to flourish each and every day.
However, I didn’t know any of that would happen while I rinsed the wing sauce off my face in the ladies’ restroom. I pinched my cheeks to give them a little more color, adjusted my favorite blue flannel shirt, and received the presentable-to-meet-Hot-Guy approval from my friend. We exited the bathroom and suddenly—
Hot Guy and I practically ran into one another as I was coming out of the restroom.
I embarrassingly gasped, I was so taken aback that he was right there. Thankfully, our friend saved the moment.
“Hey Jake! This is my friend, Lexi.”
“Hey, nice to meet you, Lexi.”
“You too, Jake.”
And that’s where we officially met. Right outside the women’s restroom at a Mexican restaurant, where I had been wiping wing sauce off my face. Pretty romantic, huh?
My friend and I returned to the group table while he went to the bathroom (I promise he doesn’t lurk around women’s restrooms, he had been on the way to the men’s). The night proceeded with casual conversation and light-hearted laughter—I was trying to find the balance between engaging with everyone else and directly speaking with him. I wanted him to know he perked my interest, but I didn’t want anyone else at the table to know. He’s since told me I was super smooth.
Two hours later, we wrapped up our overpriced taco dinner and walked out of the restaurant. He and I both lingered behind the rest of the group; I was rehearsing in my head how to nonchalantly ask for his number. Once we were outside and about to go to our respective cars, he turned to me and beat me to the question.
“Is it okay if I get your number?”
But I played it cool with a casual smile, “Sure.” And there on a street at 10pm on a Wednesday in downtown Denver, Jake added my number as a contact to his phone—a number that he would later memorize as the ID to our shared Raley’s rewards account.
Within an hour, he reached out and said it was nice to meet me. We stayed up late texting into the night like teenagers, and by the time I fell asleep we had our first date scheduled for Friday.
Since that fateful day two years ago, Jake has seen me with wing sauce on my face more times than I can count. He gives me the wingettes because he knows I prefer those over the drumsticks, and he always offers me the last wing because he knows how much I love them. It’s a running joke how he dramatically groans every single time I order bleu cheese dressing. He kisses my sauce covered face and I jokingly use his cheek as a napkin. Over the course of two years, we enthusiastically agree to order the wings appetizer wherever we’re eating, gobble them up in the most unattractive manner, and later complain together about the digestive consequences of eating buffalo wings.
I’ll always remember how it began the night we met—it seems so silly now that I ever worried about him seeing me with wing sauce on my face.