Cupid, Overstuffed Ice Cream Cones, and the Man Beside You

Yesterday I met up with an old boyfriend and his soon-to-be wife. The weird part? I introduced them. In fact, after the first few months that he and I dated, I knew that we were the wrong match. Soon after, I also knew that he and a girl I was working with at the time would be the perfect fit. Call me Cupid, or call me crazy, but I had to get them together.

Rick and I–yes, let’s call him Rick–met at an art gallery when I was 27. I had gone to see an exhibit in Soho, some wine and cheese event hosted by a painter friend of mine. My friend Jamie was enamored with his suit from the moment we saw him. She had a boyfriend, though, and decided to make it her job to get us paired up by the end of the night. “Are those cufflinks?” I kept saying over and over. I remember hoping he’d toss them off and roll up his sleeves a little.

Anyway, Rick asked me out, I said yes, and we dated for a few months. He was a great guy, but he wasn’t my great guy, and I knew it. Every now and then, I could see him struggling to figure out what the hell I was up to. He’d scrunch his eyebrows trying to understand, but I’m not sure he ever found an answer.

Like that one time we went upstate to this gorgeous bed and breakfast. Rick was the kind of guy who would get dressed in the morning (well-tailored pants, fancy shoes, ironed shirt) and come down to the porch to read the newspaper and drink his espresso. Somewhere in the distance he’d find me wandering in the grass, boots muddy from the morning rain, t-shirt messy from attempting to climb nearby trees.

At night, he’d order dinner for us on that same porch and laugh when I’d ask if they had a cone I could stick my ice cream in so I could eat it on the grass while watching the stars. He’d seem confused when I’d drop at least one scoop of that ice cream in my lap nearly every time I’d eat it. I could see he was dying to say, “Why do you make the scoops so big? That’s why you drop them all the time!”

Yeah, he was right. And terribly practical. Beside a terribly impractical girl.

Then there was that time I made him walk to the grocery store with me in Vermont. Of course I was caught up in some romantic, small-town fantasy walk. Of course he was right when he said they looked like storm clouds above and it seemed like a bad idea. But he came with me anyway. It took us six hours to get home that day because the rain was so bad. Well, that and the fact that I kept jumping in and out of puddles for my own amusement. The poor guy was drenched by the end of the day. And as kind as he was about it all, I could tell he would’ve rather not been soaking wet for the last six hours.

Then there was that time, God forgive me, that I begged him to ride the Ferris wheel with me at a local carnival. He was right in pointing out that it had gotten stuck three nights before and a few weeks before that. Of course that went in one of my ears and out the other. So, he hopped on, my cotton candy in his hand. Two hours later, we got off, after getting stuck at the top while a guy in a nearby cart loudly sang the Hail Mary at least twenty times. Rick smiled as our feet hit the ground, took me out for a great dinner, and moved on with the night. But I knew he wished I had listened to him and not gotten on the damn ride.

When I looked back months later, I realized why I’d done all those things. In part, they were just a reflection of who I was–an odd,  spontaneous girl who liked to dare fate and live in the moment. But on another level, I think I was also trying to learn about the kind of man I had sitting beside me through it all. He was a great man, a loyal man, an honest man, and one of the most reliable people I’d known in my life.

But he was never going to run in rainstorms with me.

He was never going to hop on the Ferris wheel because it might get stuck and figure out how to make those moments at the top unforgettable.

He was never going to understand why I had to put giant scoops of ice cream in my cone even though I knew one would fall in my lap.

The match was wrong and I knew it. Deep down inside, he had to know it too. So, I left. We parted with kinds words–Rick wouldn’t have it any other way–and I later managed to hook him up with someone I knew would complement that wonderful man much better than I ever could.

I was right. And today, they’re just about the cutest couple ever. About a year ago, they both scrunched their eyebrows at me when my giant scoop of ice cream hit my lap. I knew right then and there that I had gotten it right.

I learned a lot of good lessons that year. I learned that letting go of the wrong match is just as important as holding on to the right one. I learned that if you find yourself wanting to change the way someone acts or reacts all the time, you’re probably with the wrong dude. I learned that sometimes it’s really rewarding to play Cupid. And I learned that I needed a guy who would understand why I liked getting stuck in rainstorms and trading cufflinks for rolled-up, messy sleeves.

Life is just a bunch of lessons. So, have fun. Enjoy the ride. Learn something. And when you imagine getting stuck at the top of a Ferris wheel, take a minute to think about the kind of person you’d want sitting beside you.

Jedediah Bila is co-host of “Outnumbered” on Fox News at
12pm ET. She is an author, columnist, and Fox News Contributor. Follow
Jedediah on Twitter @JedediahBila.

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