How do you know when you've met the one? It's in the small, unguarded moments, says Chrissie Swan.
This month marks the momentous occasion of meeting my fella The Chippie. It was six years ago. I have counted this out on my fingers many times because I can't quite believe how much business we've taken care of in such a short amount of time, as Elvis would say. Three houses, three kids (well, almost) and one trip to "the Worlds" on the Goldie. It's been a very busy time.
When I met The Chippie, I was fresh back from living in regional Queensland for nearly four years. It was summer. I was living with my mum, not working, and had so much free time I was ripe for the pickin'. I'd had a date or two with a man whose name I can't remember and, keen to fill my ample free time, was contemplating pursuing something with him because he was interested and I was bored.
There'd been no kissing. In fact, there'd only been one dinner date where he'd scoffed his dinner, and mine, and then suggested a walk along the beach. In hindsight I can't have been too into him, because I carried my shoes so he couldn't hold my hand and walked at full clip as close to the beach lights as possible so he didn't touch me. Such a goer, me.
Later on, I found out this guy had six toes. I am not a judgmental person, but even I was surprised that an extra phalanx was a deal breaker. Goodbye, nameless two-dinner-eater.
Later that week my friend had a birthday party at a pub, prophetically called The Union, and that was where I first laid eyes on the man who would become my forever sweetheart. Technically he wasn't invited, and didn't even know my friend, but a mutual mate had dragged him along for an airing.
I love fate. I'm not a mover and a shaker in terms of romance; I've never "picked up" at a pub. But I made sure he had my number, which was a big step for me, and left it up to him.
He was a man, with tools and a ute and a beard, and I got the feeling he'd like to be in charge if anything were to happen. So I waited. Blushing and with heaving bosom, like something from Downton Abbey. And he called. Eventually. And we went out for dinner. It was actually the first time in my life a man had called and asked me out and picked me up for a date. I was so nervous I was moaning to my mum, "I can't go! I'm so boring! I'll bore him to death! He will wish he'd never called!"
But I went and he was adorable. Walking back from dinner we saw an inconsolable child at an outdoor table of a famous vegetarian restaurant. We both locked eyes on him and Chips muttered, "I think he wanted the steak." That was when I knew.
A few months later we took our first trip away, a week in New Zealand. Perusing a gift shop at Waitomo he sidled up to me with a pot of honey hand moisturiser. "Can you buy this? It'll look weird if I do, being a man and all." So I obliged. I went to the checkout alone and that was when he came up and said loudly, "More beauty products? We're going to need another suitcase for all that stuff you've bought. How much skin do you need to moisturise?" Funny bugger. That was another time I "just knew".
We have never actually had a fight. There have been some very stressful times in our lives over the last six years, including baby-induced sleeplessness, huge decisions with regard to career, selling and moving house and a surprise tax bill that almost sank us. And not once have we turned on each other.
But yesterday St Chippie woke up cranky. It happens. And I am generally intolerant of crankiness. I think when someone is cranky and I'm in the general vicinity it must be my fault. I take it personally. Also, he may have been checking his iPhone a bit much which also annoys me – mainly because it highlights my own addiction to Twitter/Facebook/email/random Google searches.
He was sitting outside while I was cleaning the kitchen, a combo that tests me. Okay, sure, he was supervising the kids, ostensibly making sure that our one-year-old's daily fibre intake doesn't consist entirely of sand, but still ... to me it looked like I was doing something tedious and he was not. Not fair! And he was on his phone. Again. Characteristically keen to not mind my own business, I shouted from the sink, "What on earth are you looking at on that damned phone?"
And that was when Dr Hook's When You're in Love with a Beautiful Woman started blaring from our speakers. Knowing that he's a lover of gadgets and music, I'd bought him a whiz-bang thing for Christmas – a speaker that remotely accesses every song you have on iTunes via mobile phone and plays it from your phone – no cords. It's a miracle I have yet to fully comprehend because my handle on how technology works expired in 1993 with the mystery of the fax machine.
How can you stay mad when someone is playing your song? You can't. Now smiling, I waited for more of his "make Chrissie happy" playlist and out they trotted – Knowing Me, Knowing You by ABBA, Guilty by Barbra Streisand, River by Joni Mitchell – each made even sweeter because I know he'd rather pass a kidney stone than listen to them. As I happily sprayed and wiped, singing along to Crazy in Love, I realised that even six years down the track I could have another "I just knew" moment. So here's to fate and bearded Chippies and Rio by Duran Duran.
This article first appeared in Sunday Life.