It was beautiful. Everyone was there. Batman, Robin, Penguin, The Joker, and even the butler, Alfred. The Bat Cave set featured a zip-line that ran from one end to the other, a control center, and a parking space for the Batmobile. At the age of eight, this was what life was about. Quickly dragging my mom to the display at Toys R’ Us, I told her that this was what I wanted to spend my hard-earned allowance on. All fifty bucks of it. Even though she warned me that I wouldn’t be getting any more allowance for at least a month, I couldn’t think of anything more perfect than this. As soon as I got home, I ripped open the box and was met with a nasty surprise. Nothing was included. No Batmobile. No Batman. No grappling hook for the zipline. Not even Alfred the butler. Plus, I had demolished the packaging to shreds, so I couldn’t return it. All of my money was spent on an empty bat cave.
She was beautiful. It was just us two. We were lying on the bed of my poster-ridden room getting to know each other. In college, I had this insane theory that I would ask one question to my future wife when we first met, and she would answer it perfectly. There was nothing that could go wrong if she got that question right. I had asked it to each girl I was interested in during my undergraduate career and no one had gotten it right. Until this moment.
“What is your favorite hip-hop song of all time?”
“That’s pretty tough, but I’d have to go with Common – I Used To Love H.E.R., probably.”
“Slick Rick – Children’s Story is a very close second though.”
She was perfect in that moment. Untouchable. I didn’t need to know more at this point because it didn’t matter. Her career goals, history, and attitude were all irrelevant when I jumped into the relationship. All I cared about was making her happy.
I wish I could tell you that we were still together and I told this story at my wedding during my vows. I wish I could tell you that I still asked this question to each girl I dated. But four years after this perfect moment, I was left with an empty bat cave.
Instant gratification has plagued us for years. We have been blinded by that insatiable need to live in that glorious instant, regardless of the ramifications that may follow. Society has adjusted itself to accommodate this with one-click shopping, Instagram, and online dating. Waiting is a four letter word, but YOLO is the motto. Our dating pools have been muddied by the belief that we need to know as much as possible as quickly as possible, making it hard to see the potential in anyone, before they even have a chance to meet you. Preconceived notions of astrology signs, career choices, and even music tastes give us this self-righteous attitude that we already know this person before the first date.
I’m not saying that love at first sight is a pure creation of fantasy, unrealistic romantic comedies, and songs by Mary J. Blige featuring Method Man. It’s completely possible. Serendipity just isn’t something that occurs to a majority of the population. We are in such a rush to catch up with the rest of the world that we forget that love isn’t a competition. Marriage isn’t a finish line; it’s a moment of deciding to combine two timelines that will entwine to strengthen the voyage.
My entire life has been consumed with quick judgment, rash decisions, and acting without responsibility. In consequence, the art of courtship died along the way. I don’t remember the last time I scheduled a date with a girl I knew absolutely nothing about. I don’t remember the last time I didn’t try to ask twenty questions via text before I could hear her voice say the answers. I don’t remember what it was like to be patient and soak in the chapters of another person’s history. I forgot the excitement of the unknown.
So the next time you have a week before your first date, take a breath. Leave Google out of it. Find out in person if you have mutual friends and ignore what Facebook says. Let them give you the details. But, be prepared to listen because you might not know what’s missing. Value the mystery of an untold story, and you might just find your happy ending.