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boilermaker love story

A Boilermaker Love Story

by Deborah Cruz

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

I met my husband, senior year of college at Purdue University. We met at Harry’s. We had a mutual friend, who’d grown up with him, and really wanted to introduce me to this “great guy” ( just as friends). This was a boilermaker love story from the very start. In case you’re wondering what a boilermaker is, its what Purdue students, athletes and alumni call themselves. I am, in fact, a proud Boilermaker whose heart bleeds black and gold and of all the precious moments I experienced throughout my tenure at my beloved Purdue, our love story is, by far, my favorite.

After weeks of hearing about this guy, she convinced me to leave our LSAT prep class a little early and head to Harry’s for a drink and some popcorn. It was September 29,1997. We walked into Harry’s and there at the back of the bar, surrounded by his friends and talking to the bartender was this massive 6’5” man. There was no way you could miss him.

We made our way through the crowd to where he was and when our mutual friend introduced us, he barely looked in my direction and mumbled, “Hey.” It floated down and landed with a thud. Honestly, I was as unimpressed and disinterested as he seemed to be. All the weeks of hearing what a “great guy” he was only to realize, he was kind of a jerk. No worries, I didn’t even know this guy and I’d never have to see him again.

Eventually, the night progressed to an impromptu after party back at the house he shared with 5 other guys; the infamous 345 Sylvia Street. At that time though, it could have been in another country because I was geographically challenged and had no idea where it was in relation to my apartment on Chauncey.

Within 20 minutes, our mutual friend disappeared with a guy. It happens. I was left alone talking to the guy she introduced me to and his roommate. Honestly, I just wanted to go home because I had a big Astronomy test the next day; I needed sleep.

Our Boilermaker love story had an unlikely beginning

Eventually, around 2 am, I started to freak out a little because I’d been abandoned at this party with guys I barely knew and had absolutely no idea how to get home. The “great guy” offered to walk me home ( which in retrospect is weird because he had a car and it was the middle of the night) with no other option, I took him up on his offer. How bad could it be? I desperately needed to get home. Was I just supposed to live there now?

He immediately told me that he wanted to show me something. All I thought was, omg, this is where my SVU episode begins. He took me to the top of the parking garage and pointed out constellations ( I guess he’d been paying attention when I was talking about my Astronomy exam). Then, unbeknownst to me, we headed in the opposite direction of my apartment taking effectively the longest way home. I was oblivious.

We ended up at the Purdue University soccer fields, lying on the grass as he pointed out more constellations. I wasn’t sure if this guy who completely blew me off when we met earlier that night was super sweet and trying to help me study or super creepy and going to assault me. I had no option, I was lost on campus in the middle of the night with a guy a foot taller than me. I queued up all those karate moves my dad taught me as a kid… just in case this “great guy” got any SVU ideas.

Our love story happened when I least expected it

Then, it happened. My entire life changed when I wasn’t paying attention. As we were lying there, talking about everything and nothing under the stars with the dewy grass beneath us, he started to talk about his grandmother, who’d recently passed. He spoke with such love and reverence when telling me about the woman she was, he got choked up. That break in his voice, shifted my perspective of who I thought he was. To be honest, I realized I thought this great guy was a jerk simply from one interaction that only lasted a couple of minutes.

Eventually, he walked me home and we had our first kiss on my doorstep as the sun was coming up. He told me he loved me 2 weeks later and proposed 4 months later, just a few days shy of our first Valentine’s Day, on the dance floor at WhereElse. 27 years and 2 boilermaker babies later, we’ve been inseparable ever since. I may have flunked my Astronomy exam but I found my forever. When I wasn’t looking, I found everything, I never knew that I always wanted right there on campus.

What was your meet cute story? How did your love story begin?

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