I’d heard about the cute new guy in the office for one whole week before I actually met him.
It was just after lunch, and I was dressed in a nightgown and slippers because it was pajama day at work. I walked to the kitchenette to refill my water, and there he sat, lounging in a chair in the corner of the room.
Immediately, I was struck by his beard. All the girls in the office had been talking about it, but in person, it was even more impressive than I’d imagined. So full, so…masculine. He was really handsome.
“I’m Jillian,” I said.
“I’m Bryan,” he responded.
And without realizing it, I shook the hand of my future husband, the future father of my child. It was January 2011.
I had been at the job a little over 6 months and had recently started hosting training classes for new hires. Bryan was in one of my very first classes. I’ll never forget the “fun fact” he shared about himself during his introduction. “I hate wet wood,” he said. “Like, newly washed wooden spoons, or walking barefoot on a wooden patio after it rains.” I remember thinking what a funny answer it was. I’d never heard of such a pet peeve before.
Later, I would spend far too long scouring his Facebook page, analyzing the wedding photos that littered his feed. Was that his wedding? Was he dancing with his wife in this photo, or was she a family member? I remember the relief I felt when I finally discovered that the “Ashley” in those photos was his newly married sister.
On the drive to work in the morning, I would glance at each passing vehicle to see if I could spot him. What kind of car might he drive? I pictured him driving a small, white pickup truck. What route did he take to work? What part of town did he live in?
I picked up on his routine coffee schedule and casually ran into him at the coffee maker in the kitchen a few times a week. We’d make small talk as we refilled our travel mugs. “How was your night?” “What about this weather?” “What are you doing for the Super Bowl?”
After a few weeks, I realized I was falling for him. Every new song I heard reminded me of him. Every move I made around the office was an opportunity to walk past his desk. Every woman in the office who continued to gush about the handsome new guy gave me an opportunity to talk about him more.
One weekend, while visiting an old friend, I confessed my crush to her. “It’s not going to go anywhere,” I said. “Just a nice, new guy I work with.” When I pulled up Bryan’s picture on social media to show her, we realized that he and I shared a group of friends in common. Neither Bryan nor I lived in the same town as they did, but he and I had both been friends with them for years. Somehow, we’d never crossed paths within the group.
When I returned to work on Monday, February 28th, I approached him at his desk. There he sat, eating an entire sleeve of Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies. “We have some friends in common,” I told him.
“Oh yeah,” he responded, mildly interested.
“Yeah,” I said. “Jason Bodley? And Jimmy, and Brad?”
“Wait, really?” he perked up, setting aside the cookies. “How… how do you know them?”
I explained that Jason was my cousin, and I’d known Jimmy and Brad for years through him.
“Wow, I can’t believe that!” Bryan said. “I was expecting you to name someone I DJ with.” At the time, he was working a few nights a week as a DJ at a local night club, and I’d find out later that ladies were often hitting on him with a similar we’ve got friends in common line. “I liked you, but as soon as I realized you knew some of the most important people in my life, I knew you were special,” Bryan would tell me months later.
“Those guys are some of my best friends,” he continued. “I’ve known them forever. I can’t believe we’ve never met each other before this!”
We talked about our common friends a bit longer, and eventually, I returned to my desk. Within minutes, Bryan sent me a message on G-chat. “I can’t believe you know those guys,” he repeated. We chatted online all morning, and at some point, became Facebook friends.
“If we have such good friends in common, you must be pretty cool,” he said to me later that day.
“Yeah, I was thinking the same about you,” I replied. “I guess we should be friends, too. Want to grab coffee with me on our next break?”
“Yes,” he said. “Coffee would be great.”