50 First Dates: Hopping Fences and Falling In Love on the Greatest First Date
Date No. 20 took our former college party gal on a whirlwind date that lasted well past sunrise.
50 First Dates anonymously chronicles the fun, romantic, wacky, bizarre and downright awful true experiences of dating in Honolulu. Check back weekly for new first-date stories, where to go to woo a boo, tips on where to meet people and more!
What I was looking for at the time
Hapa boy. Great smile. Perky ass. Surfer shoulders wearing a snug, retro Goodwill find. It was the ’90s and I was in college.
How we met
At a bar in Mānoa. It was a Thursday night, cheap tequila shots were being poured and 20-somethings were on the hunt for a good time. I spotted him on the stairwell talking with a friend. His smile was worth staring at—until he caught me. He looked my way; I froze and played it cool—aka dragged my girlfriend to the bathroom. After 10 minutes of did-you-see-that-guy conversation, we emerged. But, he wasn’t on the stairwell. Damn! I made my way upstairs and scoped the crowd. Just as I was about to give up, I locked eyes with him. He flashed that handsome smile. My last lemon drop shot gave me enough liquid courage to make a move. After 20 minutes of chatting, he slipped me his number on a bar napkin and said, “Call me.”
Where we went
I called him three days later. Rule of thumb for dating, right? Well, that backfired. He was leaving in two days to go back to college. We had one night, so we decided to meet up for crab artichoke dip and drinks. But I was an hour late. We didn’t have cell phones back then, just pagers. He thought I stood him up and was about to leave. Then I came in, like a tropical whirlwind (I was wearing a bright red halter top and a tropical sarong—what was I thinking?!). He was so much cuter than I remembered.
We echoed what we learned from our first chat at the bar. We were from opposite sides of the island. He went to Punahou, loved football and baseball. I didn’t have a major yet, unless partying was one. As the night carried on, minutes turned to hours. We shared childhood stories, discussed future dreams, laughed at each other’s cheesy jokes, trying not to show our nerves. Silent moments snuck in, we smiled, hoping the other person felt the same first-date tingles.
The restaurant lights dimmed, but it wasn’t closing time for us. We drove to my hometown, he pieced together my childhood stories. We ended up in front of my house, where I opened up about my grandfather who passed a few years earlier. I spoke lightly about it—nothing is more of a downer than talk of death on a first date. But, as I took a deep breath, I felt a hand gently land on mine. Usually, a move like this on a first date would be met with a mean stink eye, but I felt comforted.
As midnight approached, we found ourselves at the Waikīkī Shell. He had an ‘ukulele, so we hopped the fence and prayed no cops would come. He made a beeline for the stage and started strumming and singing as I sat front row. I don’t remember what songs he played, but I remember looking to the sky and feeling alive. I jumped up onstage and started dancing. We lost ourselves in the excitement, and when I stopped moving I realized this was one of those sappy rom-com scenes that don’t exist in real life. But, they do. And when it happens, fireworks don’t even come close to describing all the feels.
After that rush, we headed to Mililani. Mililani Uka Elementary, a community park and his parents’ house inspired stories of hanabata days. I listened, laughed and wished for 1,000 more hours. As my tour ended, it was almost sunrise. We drove back to town to grab my car and met up in Mānoa—where it all started.
Mānoa Shopping Center was bustling with grandpas and grandmas milling about at a farmers market. Longs was open so we decided to buy a disposable camera; documenting the end of this incredibly surreal night made it real. We ended up with a slew of silly pics that were a result of no-sleep loopiness and dumb youthful bliss.
A few more minutes of playing and it was time to say our goodbyes. His flight back to college was leaving soon, he hadn’t packed and there was no doubt his mom was freaking out. We must’ve hugged 10 times before getting in our cars, but as he drove off, I held my breath and smiled. This would be a memory that I would hold on to, and repeat to my friends, family, kids, grandkids and anyone else (HONOLULU readers!) who would listen to me gush about the greatest first date. EVER.
When I got home, I showered and my head hit the pillow. But, a beep from an incoming page woke me. 33. His baseball number.
How did it end/where are the now?
We dated for a year after that. It was a roller-coaster ride full of ups and downs, but the memories we created became the story of us. It’s been more than 20 years now. We both ended up having great lives and talk once in a while about how crazy and crazy in love we were. A while ago, he texted me that he was in town for a funeral and we planned to meet up. Guess where? Mānoa. Of course I was an hour late again, and the bar that helped fate bring two college kids together is now a Thai restaurant. We ordered pho, reminisced, laughed and enjoyed each other’s company. As the meal came to an end, I was reminded and comforted in the fact that our friendship, just like our first date, will keep going way beyond closing time.
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