The First (Official) Date

This post stemmed out of the story of How I Met My Husband and then how I was Tricked Into a Date. Click on the links if you'd like to start at the beginning. 

Would you like to grav some coffee?

I didn’t know then how interchangeable the “b” and “v” sounds are in Spanish, so this spelling error in a text message played into my suspicions that I might not be a good fit for an international fellow.

My attempts at humor and sometime unconventional vocabulary are often misunderstood by primary English speakers, so I wasn’t sure what kind of reception I would receive from Billy. While I agreed to go “grav” coffee, I was skeptical about this outing. 

Within days, I found myself with Billy at Starbucks on the USC campus. There was a very specific moment that I recall making a quick joke… the kind of comment that’s more to yourself than anyone because it’s not really funny enough to stand on its own. 

Imagine my surprise and delight when Billy picked up on my commentary and returned a funny reply. Oh dear. This slope is getting slippery…

We soon found ourselves in a passionate argument regarding the location of Rodeo Drive, the shopping district famous for designer shops. I pretty much bottom out in the category of spatial intelligence, so I should not have taken on this challenge. Before I know it, I’m hoping into his Jeep, destined to lose a bet. 

Now if you know anything about me, I’m really not a Rodeo Drive kind of girl. Designer bags and shoes… not really my scene. I have been involved in urban ministries and living among the poor for over a decade. This lifestyle choice had proved problematic when dating since most guys aren’t really looking for downward mobility.

So we pulled up to the fancy shops, basking in all their American Dream-ness and credit card debt, and I thought a thought I’d thought many times when dating: Yeah, this guy is not going to get me. The rubber hit the road at dinnertime. Looking around at the fine dining options, Billy offered me dinner on Rodeo Drive. 

“Or… we could get pupusas!” I offered. 

If you don’t know pupusas, you are truly missing out. El Salvador is known for the pancake-like, thick tortilla, filled with cheese and meat and topped with something similar to cole slaw and hot sauce. I realize this Americanized description may not sound tasty, but don’t write off the pupusa.

It turned out the Guatemalan immigrant with directions to Rodeo Drive had no idea where to find pupusas… in L.A. Thankfully, the white girl from Kentucky knew exactly where to find cheesy goodness. 

Notorious as the filming location of Training Day, for sometimes finding bodies in its lake, and being the reliable spot for fake IDs, MacArthur park is about five miles and three worlds away from Rodeo Drive. Maybe I was running my own little test on Billy, but he passed with flying colors as we walked the sidewalks teeming with recent Central American immigrants manning fruit carts and bacon-wrapped hot dog stands. 

I led him to a hole-in-the-wall restaurant where we waited the shockingly long time that it takes to cook pupusas. Walking back to the car as dusk fell, he only offered a brief, “Are you sure we should be walking around here?” 

Billy loves to tell this story of how he tried to woo me at Rodeo Drive and then I took him to MacArthur Park. Ironic? Maybe. The perfect picture of our journey? I think so. 

Where did you go on one of your most memorable first dates?

P.S. Click to keep reading about how Billy's immigration status soon entered into our conversations. 


  1. Im hooked Sarah you need to write a book.

    1. Hi, Eveline! Thanks for the encouragement! :)


I love to hear from you! Like, seriously. It makes my day. Please feel free to respond, question, or add your perspective. Of course, please keep your words respectful. Thanks for reading and joining in the conversation!

A Life with Subtitles. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.