This is a story of boy meets girl.
The fire, baby, it’ll burn us both
Late one summer evening, Miles roared past the DeKalb city limits in a leather jacket on his 1983 Yamaha Virago (Midnight Edition). He was headed for Niko’s Lodge, to see a low-down, no-good band of crusty punks known as Train Company make their best attempt at covering some Rob Thomas tunes*. It was 2010, the economy was still in the toilet, he had a college degree, a part time job, and still lived on campus. Life was pretty grand.
Meanwhile, Bridget was a hot mess who had sworn off men. She was also on her way to see her best friend, Brynn, sing backup at the very same show.
At the end of the night, Miles was outside shooting the breeze with the band alongside a fire pit. Suddenly, he looked up as the crowd parted for an instant. Time slowed down as he gazed upon the most beautiful girl this landlocked region of country has ever seen. And Cindy Crawford was born in DeKalb. He entered a trance-like state, which medical professionals predict he will recover from in about a thousand years. The warm glow of the fire trickled and danced across her face as she stood motionless in the crowd, her sundress hanging on her like birds came through her window and wrapped it around her.
Suavely he smoothed his hair back, and straightened his leather jacket before sauntering over to her. However, a few feet into his journey, he turned around as he realized A) he had no idea what to say and B) he had no game, swagger, or experience approaching strange women.
But on their way home, Brynn told Bridget that Miles had asked her to “put in a good word for him.” Flattered, but still a hot mess, Bridget said, “You should tell him to run for the hills.”
*Train Company is actually an extremely talented and entertaining band, and at the time of press, has never played a Rob Thomas song.
The Purple Pants
Fast forward two years (during which Miles may or may not have stalked Bridget via Facebook).
Bridget had moved to Chicago and gradually became less of a hot mess. Miles had moved to Gilberts and life continued to be grand. They saw each other at a couple more shows, including one fateful event at Subterranean in Wicker Park where Miles was entranced by Bridget’s intriguingly purple pants. They chatted (read: yelled over loud bar noises and music) about his not-entirely-unique hipster aesthetic (beard and plaid shirt). He did not ask her out.
But Bridget was not to be thwarted. And a few days later, Miles received a text from Brynn along the lines of, “If you ask Bridget out she probably won’t decline.” Sneaky.
So he did.
The First Date
Their first date went well — after the bit where a sweaty Miles couldn’t navigate the city, parked way, way too far away, couldn’t find a cab, and had to speed walk to Bridget’s house in the late June heat. Also the part where a mighty Chicago wind decided Bridget’s dress would look a lot better over her head.
After those minor speed bumps, the pair sat on the deck of The Orbit Room and talked. For five hours. About Ninja Turtles and Rugrats and a common distaste for suburban sprawl, among other topics.
Soon after, they planned their second date — Scrabble and a picnic in the park. She won.
Shanghaied in Astoria
A few weeks into their courtship, Miles flew out to Astoria, Oregon, to photograph the wedding of his good friend Brent West to the lovely Tina White.
As soon as Brent picked Miles up from the airport, he let it slip that he was dating someone (a detail he wouldn’t normally reveal).
As they had only been dating a few weeks, Miles was a little nervous about what kind of message he was sending by attending a wedding on the other side of the country. But he played it cool and only texted Bridget about once every three and a half minutes.
Brent, after spending a couple days with the uncharacteristically love-drunk, pre-occupied, and clearly-trying-to-hide-it Miles, whispered to his new bride: “He’s gonna marry this girl.”
Explosions and Old Milwaukee
On one of their first dates, Miles took a gamble by driving Bridget far out into rural Northwestern Illinois for a little mayhem, a little destruction, and a little love: Demolition Derby. It worked; Bridget was thrilled.
Atop a rickety wooden bleacher, they sipped on $2 beers and watched the best vehicular destruction in DeKalb County. As the sun vanished below the horizon and the night air cooled off, our hero took notice of his date becoming quite chilled. As he returned from another beer run, he was also carrying a gift shop sweatshirt for Bridget. He played it cool, like it was nothing.
So 100 Irish people walk into a park…
In late July 2012, Miles proved his devotion to Bridget by attending her family reunion — and meeting her family (all clad in matching green T-shirts) for the first time. He is a brave man.
The Dream of the 90s is alive in Portland
In search of greener career pastures, and outstanding beer and coffee, Miles took a job in Portland, Oregon, in early 2013. Of course, he asked Bridget to join him. Of course, she said yes. And so did her cat, Muffin.
Although they missed celebrating the Blackhawk’s Stanley Cup win with all of their homies, the pair celebrated their first anniversary there, and enjoyed mountains of vegan food, excellent hipster watching, and plenty of time cuddling on the couch taking Miles through all ten seasons of “Friends” for the first time. He remains a devoted fan.
They saw waterfalls, the International Rose Garden, and watched the sun set over the mountains. They ate delicious food and imbibed in plenty of Oregon microbrews and watched fireworks over the Willamette, while drinking champagne on a yacht full of retirees. They saw the spectacular views from the unforgiving cliffs of the cold and windy coastline. Then there was the Goonies House and Museum, the art fairs, and the farmers markets. It was just the two of them with a world to explore.
They’ll be back when they retire, if not sooner.
Landlocked by Cash Crops
After a lovely six months in Portland, Miles found an even better job — which just so happened to be back in Sweet Home Chicago. So, the pair packed up Muffin, much to her chagrin, and returned to the Midwest.
“Proud and insolent youth,” said Hook, “prepare to meet thy doom.”
In the spring of 2014, with Chicago’s awful weather helping her case, Bridget convinced Miles to take a magical adventure with her: two days in Disney World, followed by a seven-night Caribbean cruise on the Disney Fantasy. And so in November 2014, Miles conquered his fears, joining Bridget on such terrifying rides as The Pirates of the Caribbean and Splash Mountain. He enjoyed himself much more on the ship, getting into character as Smee for pirate night (Bridget was Captain Hook), spotting a baby shark while snorkeling, and drinking several tropical cocktails. This, they knew, they would have to do again.
The Regatta Gala
One Sunday evening in August 2015, Miles and Bridget got all gussied up to head to an alumni awards banquet in honor of his friend, and former boss at Northern Illinois University, Joshua.
On the drive there, Miles said he needed to stop and use the rest room, and pulled into the parking lot of a restaurant — coincidentally, Bridget thought, the very same restaurant where the pair first met at that Train Company gig back in 2010.
She sat in the car, totally oblivious, and listened to the radio while she waited for him. Then her phone rang. It was Miles. “Will you come meet me at the spot where we first met?” he asked.
At this point, she knew he was up to something cute. But Miles is a rather romantic fellow, so she thought perhaps he just wanted to share a quick kiss or something.
So, Bridget walked up to the fire pit outside the restaurant patio. It was surrounded by rose petals, as was the ground. She is oblivious and did not notice this at all until it was pointed out to her later.
Then he pulled a ring out of a hidden pocket on the back of his tie (a Christmas present from Bridget), explained that this whole alumni dinner had been a ruse to get her to their spot, got down on one knee and asked a question, THE question he’d been holding back and fighting every instinct to unleash over the past weeks and months. Of course, she said yes.
Just then, Bridget heard someone singing “We Belong,” the bride and groom’s song, accompanied by acoustic guitar. Lo and behold, there were Brynn and Mark, her boyfriend, sitting on the patio!
Bridget was so caught up in the moment, it wasn’t until then that she realized their friend James had been circling, taking pictures of the happy couple the whole time.
Then, as Miles lead her into the restaurant, Bridget’s little sister, Tara, emerged from behind her sunglasses, hat and menu. And Bridget promptly started bawling. Both mommies also appeared, as well as Bridget’s pop. The whole gang then enjoyed a lovely round of whiskey and appetizers — after the restaurant applauded, of course.
Well done, Miles. You got her good.
A Labor of Love by MilesPfefferle.com
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