Project Optimism: Right Under My Nose


I was a junior in college, calling home a few times a week to assure my mom I hadn’t been incarcerated. She used to be super excited to hear from me, but with each subsequent call, she seemed increasingly rushed, like she didn’t she didn’t have time to talk, which was impossible because I’m pretty sure she had a phone surgically affixed to the side of her head.

Finally, I called her out: “MOM! What’s the deal? You want me to call, so I call. Then you have zero time to talk?”

I could tell she put her hand over the phone to muffle her words: “Your brother’s baseball coach is here. He is soooo handsome! Giggle. Squeal.”


“Mom, you’re a cougar. It’s gross.”
“Stephanie, he is! He has the best set of teeth I’ve ever seen!”

It would benefit you to know my mom is a dental hygienist, as well as a cougar.

Turns out this guy was a math teacher and coach, so he tutored my brother in Calculus and threw him batting practice. And the sick phone call cycle continued; I just learned not to call around dinner because The Coach was there eating/tutoring/giving my mom reason to giggle like a school girl.

A few months later, my girls and I were donating blood as we did once a week. Okay, that’s a lie. We were at a bar and feeling noooooo pain. Thanks to zero spatial awareness, I literally bumped into this guy and the first thing I noticed? His teeth.

My thought process was as follows:

Look at those teeth–so white! Mom will be proud.
Wait. Are these the beer goggles everyone talks about?
His skin is amazing. Olive complexion. Bet he’s Italian. Dad will be proud.
Our kids will be gorgeous.

You betcha.

It was The Coach. And my mom was not kidding.

We started talking. We started laughing.

His friend started interrupting.

We tried to ignore his friend.

His friend would.not.shut the eff up. The Coach walked away.

I wasn’t pleased with the Interrupter. But he bought me another drink, so I said yes when he asked me to go to dinner with him the following weekend.

All that week, I kept thinking about The Coach. I called home when I knew he would be there because I’m subversive like that. Unfortunately, my date with the Interrupter was coming up, and despite my efforts to get out of it, the night was upon us. I pre-gamed with a few friends in preparation. Nothing says enthusiasm like half blacking out before a date.

When I sat down across from him at dinner, I just burst out laughing. I think I told him about 423, 242 times how much he looked like his twin sister, with whom I had been friends in high school, and I also announced how weird it would be if we were to kiss because “it would be like I was kissing a girl. ISN’T THAT FUNNY?!” He was visibly annoyed. Success. No second date.

Fast forward a few months, and summer was in full-swing. I chose to stay at school to take classes, but I managed to get home to watch a few of my brother’s baseball games because I’m a baseball gal and a very supportive sister and I love my baby brother. Also? The Coach was the summer coach. Subversive like that.

I flirted. I attended as many games as I could. I know a thing or two about baseball, so I tried yelling intelligent things at opportune times.

I went out to dinner with the team and the parents after the games. I pretended to be interested in replaying the entire 9 innings, focusing on how the team could improve. I ate salads. Salads.

After a couple of weeks, I was sick of salads. “Screw it. This isn’t working.” The Coach didn’t even notice me! I complained to my dad who had been helping coach the team. He assured me, “Stephanie, when it’s baseball season, he knows nothing but baseball.”

So I devised a plan: The Coach was going to call my brother about meeting for an extra batting practice or something that no one cared about, and I was going to answer the phone. These were the days of the landline, and I wasn’t risking my cougar mother picking up. “NOBODY TOUCH THE PHONE!” I was going to take the bull by the horns and tell this man I wanted a date! The whole family agreed to stay away from any ringing phone–I was on this!

I was also on the toilet because, in case you missed it, I’m there a lot.

RIIIING!!! I run, with pants around my ankles, to grab the phone. I return to my throne and clear my throat.


Uh, hey. Is your brother there?

Yeah, but before I put him on, can I ask you something?

Silence. Then, Sure.

I’ve been trying, man. I’m not good at this stuff. I’ve been flirting and trying to show interest, but you’re either not understanding or you’re not interested. And that’s okay if you’re not. Just tell me because I thought we could, like, hang out?


I prepared to jump out of the bathroom window.

Then, YES! I would like that. YES! Let me grab a pen and I’ll take your number and, YES! That’s good.

He was a little nervous and, more than likely, surprised that I was so forward. But he was also a little excited and it was adorable.

And so it began. Our courtship, eventual engagement, marriage, kids, dogs, a house, and a blog. That last one is just for me.

The really weird part? The Coach, AKA: my husband, grew up 5 miles from me. We were two years apart, but attended the same high school. We were involved in the same sports, clubs, and activities. We went to the same college, both majored in education. He replaced me around my family’s dinner table while I was away at school. He befriended my parents, coached with my dad, inspired my brother in the classroom and on the field. We were always *thisclose* to one another, but never even knew it. My dad didn’t even have the option of hating The Coach when he asked for my hand in marriage (which apparently he did in my Dad’s back swing one day on the golf course). He was right under my nose the whole time, but circumstance wasn’t on our side until 2002. I had to come last; it’s just the way it meant to be.



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  1. So… your Mother has the hots for your husband… ?

  2. Dani Ryan says:

    OMG, that’s such an awesome story!!! I officially love your mom now. Oh, and my mom wants to get off the phone the minute we start talking, too. Drives me bonkers! ;)

    • I long for the days where she didn’t want to talk! I friggin’ hate the phone. I would rather text or e-mail any day of the week, but my mom knows no technology other than her cordless phone. She calls me 234234 a day to inform me whose Ellen’s guests are, ask me what the new Justin Timberlake song is about, or to tell me a story she told me yesterday. Four times.

  3. Just beautiful, my friend!! Hoping baseball season passes quickly!

  4. Awesome post! LOVE it! My hubby and I were right under each others noses our whole lives, too. We don’t have quite as many connections as you and your husband but we did go to the same elementary and high school (both very small, private schools) and never actually talked to each other until I was in college.


  5. vernette says:

    You made the date, while on the bowl? Just lovely!!!! Ahahaha. Smh…I love you Stephanie *in a she wears an “S” on her chest kinda way*

  6. Jessica Smock says:

    What a great story! And what a wonderful tribute to lasting love.

  7. I LOVE this!! I love hearing how people got together and this is an awesome one!

  8. Jill Pinnella Corso says:

    Aw OMG Steph! I’m practically crying over here. That’s the best, best meeting story, ever. Ever.

  9. Penny Roach says:

    Wow dude….your mom was all giggly over the man who turned out to be your husband. Classic!

    And I’m assuming you’re not a Pirates fan. That just hurts Steph. Cuz I was gonna like, ask you stuff, since I don’t get their games on the tube here in Chicago.

    Well, it’s not a deal breaker. I’ll still hang out at your blog!!

    Penny at Green Moms and Kids

    • Penny, I regret to inform you that my brother is probably the Biggest Buccos fan EVER, so that pretty much forces me to be a fan, too ;) I’m always for the underdog, though!

  10. Elizabeth Hall Fishel says:

    Funny story about that good ole year 2002… “The Coach” was my home room teacher that year. I’ve never been so fed up with math, baseball and insane amounts of energy… But i’ll be the first to admit that the teeth/smile totally made up for it.

  11. Chris Carter says:

    Okay- now that is ADORABLE. Such a great story! Although, I too thought your mom was having a passionate affair with this coach/tutor dude! SO happy for happy endings… :)

    • Bahahaha! I think my mom may have wanted it that way, but EWWWW! :) I’m so blessed to have parents who love my husband, regardless of the gross kind of love and whatnot…;)

      Thank you for the comment, Chris!

  12. This might be one of my favorite pieces you’ve written. And that’s sayn’ something because every night I say to my husband, “You have to hear this. It’s so good!” Love this story. Love that you took the bull by the horns. Love that you were on the toilet. Awesome work!

  13. Menopausalmother says:

    Awww I just LOVE this whole story! It’s fabulous! What a cool slice of your life you have shared–I kept rooting for you to get with the Coach the minute I started to read this and it didn’t disappoint! This is so well written–you should send it out to as many places as you can because it is a story worth sharing!

  14. motherhoodisanart says:

    Oh, this is just too sweet! I love the fact that the horn turned out to be a cross. Doesn’t it seem like what we think we are looking for is never the case of what we actually want?

  15. Christine at More Than Mommies says:

    Just want to say…that your hubs has some of the nicest teeth I’ve seen (based on my one interaction with him–when I returned your daughter’s sweatshirt) and the two of you have made children too adorable for words.

    Loved the story!

    • I told him what you said and he’s now considering entering a smiling contest–his words, not mine. I don’t have the heart to tell him there is no such thing for 34-year-old nobodies. But perhaps he won’t fight me when I want to take 234234 family pictures?!

  16. I very much love this post. Very much. A lot. :)

  17. That was a great story! I recently wrote a series of posts on how I met my hubby. I always thought our story was crazy! Wow! :)


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