On this day, four years ago, my life changed forever. Three instances of happenstance and serendipity led me to the love of my life.
She said he was known as “Mr. Sriracha.”
“There is this very sweet boy who comes into Lisa’s a couple of times a week. He and his buddy work for Shaw and they always order the fish tacos. But what’s really funny is that he got tired of having to request the bottle of sriracha for his tacos, so he started bringing his own bottle. I’m not sure how old he is, but he’s cute as a button.”
My Nana, with whom I had lived for two years since graduating high school, was trying to set me up with one of her customers from Lisa’s Cafe in Downtown Dalton. I thought it was cute that my grandmother was trying to fix me up with someone, and playfully rolled my eyes when she brought it up. I sometimes bussed and waited tables at Lisa’s during my Christmas break or holiday weekends, and had never seen a “Mr. Sriracha.” So life went on.
The day was May 14, 2013. I had just finished my sophomore year of college at Dalton State. I was on summer break, but I also had a part-time job working as a student assistant in the Derrell C. Roberts Library on campus, where I spent 19.5 hours a week re-shelving books and scanning in newspaper articles to be archived for the college.
This day, however, I got a text message from a former classmate from my Humor Communication class, Taelar, asking if I wanted to grab lunch. So…I did what any 19-year-old would do during the summer…I played hooky and went to grab a bite! (Sorry, DSC!)
Taelar and I went to Lisa’s Cafe for lunch and decided to spend the rest of the day hanging out. We went to Civitan Park to soak up some sun and blow bubbles for a few hours. Then it was time to stop by her house to take her dog for a walk.Taelar lived in an adorable loft in Downtown Dalton, right across the street from the Depot restaurant. As we were walking in, her neighbor Garrett was leaving. After Taelar introduced me to him, he asked if we would be going to trivia at the Depot later that evening. Having never been, I was excited to go! So after hanging out for a few more hours at Taelar’s, we all made our way across the street to play trivia.
I had been to the restaurant side of the Depot, but never the bar. I walked in, taking in the atmosphere, very aware that I was 19 years old and being watched like a hawk by the wait staff. Taelar saw a few of her buddies who normally competed on their trivia team, and we walked over. I was introduced to a handful of people, one of which was a charming, witty, somewhat lanky fellow named Billy.
After swapping some puns and coy smiles, I decided he was alright. This was a guy who was not afraid to laugh, sing, and show his knowledge of Beatrix Potter stories to win his trivia team some extra points.
After trivia was over, the group went back to another one of Taelar’s friends’ apartments to watch some TV. That friend, Brian, lived right next door to her, and we ended up watching “Flight of the Concords,” a very silly HBO show about a musical duo from New Zealand. I ended up sitting next to Billy that evening, squished on a futon between him and another friend. I remember blushing each time my knee accidentally touched his.
I ended up learning something interesting about Billy, which was that he used to live in the same loft as Taelar and her boyfriend Cody, right next door.
At the end of the evening, Billy and I ended up heading out at the same time. He offered to walk me to my car, and I obliged. As we made our way down the stairwell and to my car, I began to dread saying goodnight.
“So…uh…it was great to meet you,” I remember saying.
“You, too,” Billy said.
“So…I’ll…see you around?” I said.
“Yeah…see you around,” he replied.
And I got in my car and left, smiling all the way home.
Fast forward three days, and I got a Facebook message from a Billy Jaco. He asked me if I had seen the new Star Trek movie, a pick-up line I STILL tease him about to this day. After a few days of casually chatting online and texting, Billy asked me on a date. We had mentioned our mutual love of cooking, so he offered to make me dinner. Elated, I accepted.
Our first date, about a week after we met, consisted of grilling steaks and watching “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” a movie we could both quote from start to finish. It was the perfect evening!
We ended up seeing each other again about three days later. Billy cooked for me again, and we ended up watching a movie I had never seen, “The Big Lebowski,” which I later learned was Billy’s absolute favorite movie. It stormed really, really badly that evening, and the power went out. After lighting some candles, Billy and I ended up talking for hours, waiting for the power to return. We were sitting on the couch, talking about our childhoods and favorite things, and in walked his roommate, Deanna. She passed by the living room on the way to her room, saw us chatting on the couch with candles, and uttered, “Awwww! That’s cute,” before departing.
What was funny, though, is that I knew Deanna…from Lisa’s Cafe! Deanna is Lisa’s sister-in-law…further deepening the plot of serendipitous circumstances around Billy’s and my meeting.
A few weeks went by, and Billy and I were officially an item. The time came to tell my Nana, who had been inquiring about where I’d been spending my free time.
“His name is Billy. He’s 5 years older than me, he’s from Knoxville, and he works for Shaw. He’s so sweet!”
“Can I see a picture?” Nana asked.
I pulled out my iPhone and pulled up his Facebook page.
“THAT’S MR. SRIRACHA!!!” she exclaimed.
And so it all came full circle. I’m not normally a believer in fate, but the circumstances lined up in exactly the right way for Billy and me to meet.
- Taelar lived in the apartment Billy had recently moved out of.
- I had known Billy’s roommate, Deanna, for a little over a year through Lisa’s Cafe downtown.
- Billy was Mr. Sriracha.
And now…four years later…we are married. We own a home together, we have three beautiful fur babies, and we could not be happier.
I guess it all goes to show you…good things can come from playing hooky.
Here’s to four years of knowing the best human I’ve ever met. I love you, Billy Jaco!
The Crunchy Crusader