Jeff Buckley and a Flat Tire

It was Feb. 9, 1994, a snowy Wednesday night in Chicago. I was with a friend at Schuba’s Tavern, one of our favorite music haunts. We met there to see Jeff Buckley, but it was a sold-out show and we didn’t have tickets. A drink at the bar before we trudged home through the snow: Why not?

When the guy with snow-covered hair nudged his way up to the bar next to me, I noticed his cheekbones, his motorcycle jacket, his playful smile. As he waited for his beer, he built a house out of matchbooks. He was trying to get our attention, so we indulged him.

I asked him if he was there to see Jeff Buckley. He wasn’t. His friend had a flat tire outside the bar and called him for backup. Apparently, he called several other friends too, so Cheekbone Guy decided to go inside to warm up and have a beer.

I teased him for not helping his friend and laughed when he admitted he’d rather be in the warm bar having a drink. We talked about the NPR “Car Talk” guys, and he told us Janis Joplin was one of his favorite female singers. The conversation was easy, so we shared a few more drinks.

When he asked for my number, I gave it to him. I assumed he wanted to hang out with my friend and me. (I’ve always been a little naïve about picking up on guys’ signals — even the blatantly obvious ones.) My friend laughed at me. “He is going to ask you out,” she said. But I didn’t take her seriously. He was a few years younger than us; I really didn’t see it happening. Plus, I was 26 and had just moved to Chicago four months ago. I wasn’t looking for a boyfriend.

Cheekbone Guy called a few days later and asked if I wanted to go see a movie. I asked him if he meant “go see a movie” as in “go on a date.” Yep, he said, that was exactly what he meant.

We saw “Reality Bites” at the Biograph Theater on our first date, which lasted 24 hours. Six weeks later we moved in together. Today we are celebrating our 16th wedding anniversary.

Thank you to Jeff Buckley and a flat tire for making it all possible.

30 thoughts on “Jeff Buckley and a Flat Tire

    • Thanks, Heather. BDD and I had a fun time reminiscing about that night and our early years together last night at dinner. I can’t believe it’s been 18 years since we met!

  1. Cool story about how you and your husband met. The whole story just sounds so smooth.
    And I loved Jeff Buckley. “Lover, You Should Have Come Over” is one of my favorite songs of all-time.

    • Thanks, Laura. I love that song too. He will always be one of my favorites.

      It was definitely a smooth beginning, but only because I had no clue he wanted to go out with me. I didn’t give it a thought since he seemed (and was) younger. I think that’s why it was so comfortable between us.

  2. Kathleen! I LOVE this because I used to live in the city for 8 years, 4 of them as a single girl. I frequented Schubas many, many times! Do you still live in the area? I don’t know if I know that (maybe south?). I am west. This was a fantastic story. Fate, baby!

    • Wow! Really? I wonder if we ever crossed paths. How wild would that be? I lived in the city from late 1993 till 2002. We moved to the South Suburbs when my oldest was 3. Are you north now?

  3. Wow, what an amazing story! Happy Anniversary! I love stories like this since I met my hubs at work – not so interesting (except that he had a girlfriend at the time, but nothing inappropriate happened).

  4. I love hearing how people find each other! So do you like listening to Jeff Buckley still, now that he’s had an unknowing impact on your life? I so wish I could have seen him. (You probably do too, except the part about meeting your man.)

    • My friend who was with me at Schuba’s that fateful night, another close pal and I had the honor of watching Mr. Buckley perform at Metro in Chicago. It remains one of my favorite shows of all time. Such phenomenal talent, taken far too soon.

    • Thanks, Christie. I miss all our old haunts. We went to a concert at Schuba’s about a year ago, and it was quite the walk down memory lane. My husband still has the original matchbook I wrote my phone number on (although it’s not the one shown here).

  5. Aaaw! Happy anniversary! Does he still try and impress you with matchbox buildings?

    BTW love your blog name. I can never explain this to people so I may need to refer people to your awesome diagram!

    • Thank you, Love, I mean, Lunchmeat. What are we supposed to call you anyway? Glad to have found you on the grid. You are a great writer and funny to boot. Welcome to Yeah Write!

    • Thanks, Larks! We had a great dinner that night and enjoyed reminiscing about our story. I can’t believe it was close to 20 years ago when we met. Yikes!

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