Four years ago I was struck by lightning.
I was waiting outside a Cheesecake Factory for a woman I had met online. We had been emailing back and forth for weeks, and I was so excited, I was an absolute nervous wreck. When she arrived I got even more nervous. “HOW DO I MAKE A GOOD IMPRESSION!? AHHHHH I’M FREAKING OUT!!!” My solution was to go on a rambling soliloquy about my favorite type of cheesecake for about 10 minutes. But miraculously, Melissa Martin sat through my speech about cheesecake long enough for us to get a seat for lunch. We talked about our families, our friends, our jobs. The 2-hour lunch date flew by until she positively had to get back to her job as a therapist. I walked to her car and that’s when we kissed for the first time.
As Marty McFly says in “Back to the Future,” “You meet the right girl — it just hits you, it’s like lightning.”
That kiss felt like it lasted forever, and yet not long enough. I said goodbye and walked to my car. Wait — that’s not right — I floated to my car, because I knew I had just had the first date with the woman I was going to marry.
I called my dad on the way home and told him I just met his future daughter-in-law. He demanded to meet her, and I said he may have to wait a few more dates. On our second date Melissa asked me which super-hero character I was most like. This was not a question I had to think about very long. Benjamin J. Grimm is the member of the Fantastic Four better known as The Thing. He’s big and ugly, with blue eyes. He works hard, he tries his best to help people with the powers he was given. He’s hard-headed, funny, loyal and a little clumsy. He’s a hopeless romantic, despite being a 6-foot-tall rock monster. In other words — exactly like me.
Then she asked me which character she was most like. And I didn’t have an answer — I told her I’d have to get back to her — this was a very important question and I needed a little time. A couple days later I was watching “Batman: The Animated Series” and it hit me! Harley Quinn was a clinical psychologist, Melissa had her degree in psychology and was working on her master’s in therapy. Harley Quinn was hopelessly devoted to her beau, the Joker — and after a few dates I could already tell that we were on the road to being madly in love. Harley Quinn loves to laugh, and after a few dates I knew that all I wanted to do for the rest of my life was make Melissa laugh. So I told Melissa that she was most like Harley Quinn. And Melissa immediately loved the choice.
This is a woman who never even read a comic before. On one date I had to tell her that Clark Kent was Superman and Bruce Wayne was Batman — not the other way around. And now she wanted T-shirts with her new favorite character on them. She wanted every comic appearance of Harley Quinn so she could have her own comic collection to put next to mine. She jumped into the nerd lifestyle with reckless abandon. She came to San Diego Comic-Con with me. And for those who haven’t been before, it’s like Burning Man but with nerds. It was a whirlwind experience, and she stood with me the whole time — even telling me to spend more money when I was unsure of a purchase.
After nine months of dating, I proposed. Using a comic book. I Photoshopped her name onto the cover of an issue of Lois Lane in which she is being proposed to. That comic sits on the mantle of her parents’ house today.
Two days before our wedding she gave me her wedding gift to me — a custom-made, 4-foot-tall painting of The Thing marrying Harley Quinn. My character and her character together. It is the best present I’ve ever gotten or ever will get. Two days later we were married at the Cathedral of our Lady of the Angels. My groomsmen all wearing superhero costumes under their tuxes. Us leaving the church to the theme from “Superman.” And driving off in the Delorean from “Back to the Future” instead of a limo. All this for a girl who had never read a comic before that date at the Cheesecake Factory.
Melissa — I would marry you everyday, if I could.
The Thing — err, I mean, Geoff.
Geoffrey Wood Patterson II co-owns Hi De Ho Comics, 1431 Lincoln Blvd., in Santa Monica.