At this point, we can all pretty much agree that Kevin is the luckiest guy in the world for getting Lauren to agree to marry him. But what you probably didn’t know is that Kevin is also lucky because he was forced to sit next to me at work for three long years.
Hi — I’m Katie, Kevin’s former coworker, Lauren’s favorite client-turned-friend, and, as I will remind Kevin every day for the rest of this life, the reason for his life’s happiness. Yes — I introduced these two crazy kids.
It was my 28th birthday, and like most almost-28 year olds, I wanted a Justin Bieber-themed party. And there was no better place to recreate the “Baby” music video than the upscale bowling alley Lucky Strike. In the past, Kevin was usually too-cool-for-school to come out to anything I invited him to, so when he said he would attend, I like to think he was finally warming up to me as a person. OR, he, too, wanted to party like Justin Bieber. You be the judge. Lauren, true-blue friend, was of course there, and early.
I had pre-party drinks with Lauren and a few other friends at the bar just downstairs from the bowling alley. I was discussing who was coming that evening when I had what Oprah would call “a lightbulb moment”: “Lauren! Kevin’s coming! And he’s SINGLE!” I excitedly hissed the last part. Lauren just gave me this look like, “Oh, no, Katie.” She might have even said it, in her cute little Texan accent.
I persisted. “But he’s cute, Lauren! And SO smart! Seriously, he’s like a genius or something. But not weird smart — he’s so relatable. And FUNNY! And tall!”
Lauren interrupted me: “Katie, stop. You’re not setting me up with anyone. No thank you.” Again, all cute attitude.
But I was not deterred. “OK. But you’ll see …” I trailed off cryptically, gave a knowing smile, and sipped my drink, plotting. Then we continued to talk about other important, adult-type things. Like Justin Bieber. My friend at the table had gifted me the “Justin Bieber: First Step 2 Forever” book. Did you know the book’s jacket ALSO doubles as a full-size, fold-out poster of him — how RAD is that?! See — many other important things to discuss.
When it was 9 o’clock on the dot, I received a text from Kevin: “I’m at the bowling alley. Where are you?” I looked up from my phone and excitedly said to Lauren, “See?! He’s so punctual!”
“Katie, STOP! You’re making me nervous!” Lauren cried, giggling at my persistence. My friend Kate piped up, wide-eyed. “I’m nervous for her! Stop!”
“OK, people! Jeez! Just saying!” And with that we went upstairs to the bowling alley.
But before we walked in, there was something I really had to tell Lauren. I grabbed her arm and pulled her aside. “OK, I just have to tell you this one thing, so you won’t be weirded out …” I trailed off.
“Katie, what?!” Lauren grabbed my arm back, fear in her eyes.
“Kevin has … weird facial hair.” Lauren’s expression went from concern to WTF-are-you-talking-about.
“He does. I think he has like chops right now. Because he thinks it’s funny. I don’t know. But it’s weird and just … don’t judge him. OK?”
“OK …” Lauren agreed, still a bit dumbfounded, because I think she thought I was going to tell her he had cancer or something.
“Oh, and also … he’s wearing skinny jeans.”
In addition to being obsessed with Justin Bieber, I also share an obsession with hipsters. I’m fascinated by them and want to be one. But I know I never will, so instead I will remain 10 steps behind by wearing Toms and listening to Arcade Fire. (What’s that, you say? That’s so 2010? Well, what are those bearded freaks doing NOW? Tell me! How is a girl supposed to keep up?! Sigh.)
A few months previously, Kevin did a “What should I wear while I’m on a panel at a conference?” contest (because who doesn’t do that?), and of course my suggestion was hipster-wear: skinny jeans, plaid shirt, Toms. I won.
Because Kevin knows that is my favorite outfit EVER of his, as a birthday present, he wore it to bowling. So there he was — skinny jeans and weird facial hair, all ready to meet the girl of his dreams.
Lauren, one of the coolest girls ever, was weirded out by neither, and instead got along smashingly with Kevin. The whole night, they were those two that you had to turn around and yell at when it was their turn to bowl, because they were snuggled up on one of the couches, chatting and laughing, oblivious to the rotation. New love: annoying when you’re trying to get through frames!
Bowling delays aside, I was super-excited that Lauren, despite her previous protestations, was really getting along well with Kevin. My excitement was twofold when a small group of us decided to hit up Little Bigs, a late-night sliders joint, after bowling, and Kevin, typically too cool for school, was NOT too cool for sliders (and more hanging out with Lauren). To Little Bigs we went.
We all sat at a lovely table outside, and, because Kevin and Lauren were forced to be separated by a 3-foot-wide table top, were less obviously cute, but still totally into each other.
And here’s where we’re going to have to let our imaginations fill in the gap. I was too high on new love or Bieber bowling to remember my next conversation with Lauren about Kevin. I can’t remember if we talked about it in the car after sliders, via text, over email … ack! But I do know that we determined that weekend that she DID like Kevin (facial hair and jeans notwithstanding), they DID exchange emails (because Kevin is nerdy like that), and she WOULD be amenable to a date, he just hadn’t asked her yet. So there you go.
The next Monday at work, I was absolutely DYING to talk about Lauren with Kevin, but decided it was imperative to play it cool. In my three years of dealing with Kevin, I learned that if you are REALLY excited about something and want to talk about it with him, he will quash your excitement and NOT talk about it with you, just for the fun of making you suffer. So, it was best to wait and make Kevin come to me.
I said not a peep about the party all morning to him, and I think he lasted until 11:07 a.m. before wheeling back in his chair and nonchalantly leaning over into my cubicle area.
“So … Lauren was pretty cute,” he said.
That was it! He was in love and I knew it. My face lit up with a wide grin. “Yeah, she is!” I probably too excitedly replied. “You should ask her out!”
Kevin could barely suppress a wry smile at my enthusiasm. “Oh, yeah? What if she says no?”
I thought about this, not wanting to spill all the beans. I replied carefully: “I am 100 percent sure that if you ask her out, she will say yes.”
That was good enough for Kevin. He nodded, gave an Obama “not bad” face, put back on his giant audio-visual headphones, and wheeled back to his computer. Presumably to listen to Justin Bieber while typing Lauren his very first “Do you want to hang out?” email.