I love the TV show How I Met Your Mother. I was a late comer to the show, starting to watch in the fall of 2010 (and I picked it up on a completely random season, too). I had recently moved to Portland and was living in a townhouse off of Powell Street in SE Portland. For those of you unfamiliar to the city, the area was staunchly “old Portland”— rents where cheeps, Division Street was grungy, Powell had a reputation for being sketchy (our stretch was not), and Portlandia was just releasing its first season. I loved that townhouse and the surrounding neighborhood. I didn’t notice until I moved in that was stumbling distance to not one, but four strip clubs (very, very Portland); all of which I think are still there. This was a Portland that was full of exciting possibilities. The food and bar scene was at, what I consider, it’s peak (absolutely amazing quality and selections with insane happy hours). I almost never paid more than $3 for a beer. It was the Portland I fell in love with and the Portland I think about when I say, “Ugh I miss the old Portland!”
It was a super rainy weekend (all them where that fall as it was a super rainy year). I came downstairs and one of my roommates was marathoning through an old season of How I Met Your Mother that she had rented from Movie Madness (a real life, independent movie rental shop that IS STILL OPEN and still amazing). I joined and was hooked about two episodes in. Over the next couple months we rented every season, in random order, and watched through the entire thing. Beyond being just a well-written sitcom, How I Met Your Mother will always reminds of that first-post college fall when I moved to Portland and life felt wonderful, exciting, and full of possibility.
Since watching that show I think I’ve asked nearly everyone I know in relationships or marriages how they met (I love hearing these type of stories). One of my friends met her husband in a dance club (They were super drunk, she gave him her number and when she left she yelled out, “You better effing call me;” he did); My grandparents on my father’s side were high school sweethearts; My grandpa on my mother’s side tried dating one of my grandmother’s friends who shoved him off on my grandmother instead (apparently when they were first dating he would take her up to the same make out overlook where they film that iconic scene from Animal House); and another one of my friends met his wife when he moved to France for a teaching job after getting turned down for jobs in America and Italy (silver lining: I think it’s nice to remember cute stories like these when you get passed up for a job/opportunity you wanted).
How my father met my mother isn’t nearly as romantic as it initially sounds. My parents went to different schools (my dad was a OSU Beaver and mom a UofO Duck with intention to transfer to OSU after changing majors). They met over the summer during a study abroad program in Germany—I think the actual place they met was in Austria, but that isn’t really important to the story. Anyway….
They hated each other. As the story goes, my mom thought my dad was a stupid frat boy (ironic as my dad hated the Greek system) and my dad thought my mom was a stuck-up B (Was she??? We can neither confirm nor deny). As my mom tells the story, after the summer was over and my mom had started classes at OSU, my parents started to hang out because, “everyone else was sick of listening to their stories about traveling Europe.” Personally, I don’t buy it. I think there was maybe another part of the story that has been glossed over that better explains why they actually became friends. Maybe the secretly like each other. I just can’t picture “wanting to reminisce” being the catalyst for going from hating each other to hanging out all the time.
Regardless, sometime after my mom started attending OSU my mom become my dad’s “backup date.” My father at the time was trying very hard to date some girl named Kathy. I don’t know much about Kathy, only that she was in a sorority and constantly bailed on hanging out with my dad because she had a Greeks-only event to attend. (I don’t think she was that into him). Through a combination of my mom’s cooking abilities (my mom’s claim) and Kathy’s total and utter unavailability (thank you Greek system), my parents started actually dating.
My parents just celebrated 38 years together this past week. (The story of how they got engaged and the actual wedding is also pretty funny—a word of advice from my mother,”Don’t get married the day after Halloween.”) I may not fully believe the version of the story they tell but I’ll still raise a glass to Kathy being a total flake. Here’s wishing my parents many more happy years together!
GRETCHEN IS A WRITER-BASED IN PORTLAND, ORE. SHE GOT HER START AS A JOURNALIST WORKING ON THE SUSTAINABLE FASHION AND RESTAURANT BEAT BEFORE MOVING INTO COPYWRITING AND ADVERTISING WORK. SHE CURRENTLY BLOGS AND WORKS AS A FREELANCE WRITER.