Anniversary of our first date

“Are you going to ask me out, or what?” First words to my future husband, after weeks of stolen glances.

He later confessed it was my swagger that caught his attention. Decades ago, my usual attire consisted of snip toe cowboy boots, tight Levi 501’s, and tee under a black leather jacket.

I arrived in Reno, Nevada with only a suitcase, rented a room from two guys I’d met in a bar, and immediately found work in a gay sex club.

Didn’t know anyone in the Biggest Little City in the World, and don’t remember how I’d heard of Steve’s Place, but had confidence it would be a fresh start.

Walked right in, asked for a job, and within days I was the guy at the door deciding who should be allowed in or not. Only guys I turned away were those who were too intoxicated (or sketchy), that I’d more than likely have to deal with later.

Working the busiest shift while being the new meat in town, at 37, I’d started dating as if there were no time to spare.

My first date, a highway patrolman, married. Whispered phone calls during odd hours being the first red flag. He didn’t concede until after we’d hooked-up several times. Second date, the only thing he didn’t take off was his wedding ring. Third, “I have a partner.”

Three strikes and it was now my turn to do the asking out.

I noticed the six-foot-five bear when he’d stop in to visit my boss, the owner. They were best friends, and Mike had carte blanche to play anytime at the club, gratis.

October 28, 1998, we went on our first date. When asked how we got together, he (still, to this day) tells people “Rob spent the night, and never left!”

Seventeen years later, Mike and I decided to tie-the-knot, following an October 2014 federal ruling preventing a Nevada same-sex marriage ban. Months before the historic 2015 U.S. Supreme Court (Obergefell v. Hodges) decision on marriage equality.

My fiancé chose the anniversary of that first date as our wedding day.

Already booked on a seven-day cruise of the Mexican Riviera, I planned the entire ceremony aboard Carnival Miracle, with weeks to spare (and help from a longtime friend). We actually had the honeymoon before the wedding!

After finalizing the contract with Siena Hotel (while aboard ship), I began collecting guest meal preferences through email.

Wedding invitation with quote from Noelle Butler Kukenas: “Two people whom I love so much will be getting married; YAY!!!”

Once home, I created an invitation via Hallmark’s website, using a photo taken during the cruise formal night.

Ordered on a Tuesday, shipped on Wednesday, mailed to our Nevada and Cali peeps by Friday. Crossing my fingers guests would show up despite short notice.

Mike and I exchanged vows at Reno City Hall on the afternoon of October 28, 2014, with my boyhood cohort, Randy, and former boss Steve, as witnesses.

We celebrated later that evening with a private dinner for 33 close friends and family, in the Terrazza Room, with its outdoor patio overlooking the Truckee River.

A three-course meal was followed by champagne toasts and cocktails in the rotunda.

Before returning to Vegas, we spent the night in a penthouse suite with floor-to-ceiling windows, and a view of not only downtown and the river, but historic Reno arch as well.

“When’s your next day off?” he asked, twenty-three years ago. “Thursday, the 28th,” I told him. We’ve rarely been apart since.

Thank You card: “Your presence at our wedding dinner made the evening more special. We are so grateful to have you in our lives. Love, Rob and Mike.”