First published at FreeDarko.com on Feb. 14, 2007:
"He's Just Not That Into U-donis"
I'm not quite sure I can pinpoint exactly when I knew I WOULD marry my wife, but I'm quite sure I can pinpoint exactly when I knew I COULD:
The date: July 21, 2001
The setting: Our first date (a blind date, no less)
The place: West Village Italian restaurant
The context: 1.2 bottles of wine into dinner.
The topic on the table: The preeminent value of offensive rebounds in relation to (1) a basketball team's chances of success and (2) a basketball forward's worth as a player.
Let me clarify: My wife (then, the random woman I was on a blind date with) was making that argument. I was pretending to engage in the discussion. I was nodding. I may have even been responding.
All I know is that her voice was drowned out by the one in the back of my head:
Li'l Danny: "Are you listening to this? Are you listening?!"
Me: "Pipe down. She's trying to make a point about the pro potential of Udonis Haslem."
Li'l Danny: "The fat Florida center? He'll never make it!" [Ed.: This was 2001.]
Li'l Danny: "But here is a woman who not only loves basketball, but appreciates it for its subtle pleasures!"
Me: "Which *I'm* trying to appreciate, save for your yammering!"
Li'l Danny: "I think I'm in love. Go on: Say something smart that will make her respect you for your basketball knowledge!"
Me: "OK...wait: I'm blanking! I'm blanking!! It's all too much pressure! I'm smitten!"
Li'l Danny: "Plus-minus! Plus-minus!"
Me: "What the hell is 'plus-minus?'" [Again: It was 2001.]
Li'l Danny: "Nooooo! Damn your ignorance! You better switch topics to something more your speed... like pop culture."
Me: "So, uh, how about those...um...'Sex and the City' women?"
Li'l Danny: "D'oh!"
Fast-forward ten years, one marriage and two kids later: Her enthusiastic argument on behalf of offensive rebounds remains THE most -- if not only -- vivid detail of our entire first date.
And as we sit in our NYC apartment today watching hoops, she's still talking about offensive rebounds. And knowing the way offensive rebounding has, since that first date, been established as highly correlated to winning basketball, I couldn't love her more for it.