Taking notice of the Dripping Hot Firefighters of L.A. calendar hanging from the wall of your future sweetheart's cubicle, you have a LAFD 4 Ever flaming fire helmet tattooed on your left pectoral - despite the fact that you're a.) A Home Ec. Teacher and b.) An observant Jew who now can never have a proper burial.
When taking her out to The Good Earth for your first date, ordering the organic greens and locally grown potatoes so she'll know that you care deeply about the world in which the two of you will eventually raise your two birth children, Joshua and Jenna, as well as your adopted son, Ernesto.
It's also sensing that actually saying this out loud, at this stage of your courtship, will trigger deafening sirens of caution in her head, sending her away. Far away. Forever.
Aware of how your new love feels about preserving the natural environment, trekking to the Van Nuys DMV, filling out four separate forms, discovering, after an hour that two of them are applications for ownership of a non-operational commercial fishing trawler, and then waiting in line for an additional hour - all so you can switch your California license plates from the standard-issue to the whale ones. (They'll look great on your Ford Expedition non-hybrid edition.)
Determining that the first real test of your nascent love affair is for your sweetheart to experience your humble abode, inviting her over for the grand tour and informing her that, while some of your mail parcels may say that you reside in Sherman Oaks, she will in fact be venturing into the very heart and soul of Van Nuys, to a quaint apartment complex nestled within a small-business community that includes Bad Boys Bail Bonds, Videos Some Very Sexy, Checks Cashed Same Day: We Pay Now! and Yoshinoya Beef Bowl.
And while your lover may not be aware of the fact that the toilet seat in your apartment has only been cleaned twice since the Obama inauguration, it's knowing that the true test of your bond will occur when showing her your McFarlane baseball figure collection, housed in an oak and glass display cabinet and illuminated by an overhead florescent light strip. You reveal this to her with the hope that she will accept you for the person you really are - and with the understanding that everyone else in the world but you thinks that males over the age of eighteen who collect and meticulously display action figures are not cute, but odd and disquieting (even if the figure of Derek Jeter diving for a hotly smashed grounder does in fact kick complete and total ass). But this seminal episode in your romance is also about your acceptance...
...Of the very real possibility that she will probably refer to your coveted collection not as action figures, or even figurines, but as dolls. Your baseball dolls.
Deriving profound satisfaction from engaging in otherwise prosaic activities together, like purchasing groceries, preparing meals, and taking long, meandering scenic drives to the 7-11, one block away, to pick up Coke Zero and Funyons.
Having the faith that your partner will not succumb to the alluring parade of Adonises at the 24-Hour Fitness: of Head-To-Toe-Underarmor Guy, squeezed into a skin-tight casing of purple and gold lycra; of 35-Sets-Of-Bench-Press-Guy; of Super-Mega-Super-Set Guy, who lords over a mini-empire of weight machines "for both muscle growth and maximum cardio burn"; of Slam-The-Dumbells-Onto-The-Floor-When-I'm-Done-With-My-Set Guy, who keeps insisting to anyone within earshot that it's his "heavy day"; or even of Unsolicited Lifting Advice Guy, a beguiling ambush predator who is at his most disarming when approaching women from behind in the free weights area and uttering the phrase, "It looks like you could use some help with your form."
While walking hand-in-hand into the Lavanderia at Vanowen and Woodman, taking solace in the knowledge that, while an unconscious crank hooker, a bullet-riddled storefront, and a pile of delicates may be the only objects separating you and your lover from an imminent shootout between growing clusters of MS-13s and Latin Kings outside, you're quick to assure your lover that, if trouble does in fact arise, a.) "Gangbanger" is just another word for a kid in need of a father figure and b.) You've seen Stand and Deliver twice.
When talking to your sweetheart by phone, whether it be from half a continent away or the deodorant aisle at the Sepulveda Blvd. Target, filtering out all the extraneous distractions of the outside world in lieu of directing your undivided attention to her words and her voice - even when that voice demands for your immediate purchase of two packages of Ghirardelli dark chocolate mint squares, a tube of raw Pillsbury cookie dough, and a box of "lady supplies."
Standing firm and unfazed in the face of the Target checkout clerk when he inevitably announces to the big box store universe that he needs "a price check on the super mega maxi tampons." And when you receive your lover's text message three minutes later that lovingly implores you to "Pleazze Hrry and get that stuff NOW!!! CHOCOLAAAAATE!" conceding that your planned forays into the sporting goods or home electronics sections - or to the Bev Mo across the street - will be best suited for a later trip. It's also knowing that delivering these goodly treasures to your lover in a timely manner and yet reeking of a Spearmint Rhino lap dancer's Jovan Night Musk do not "cancel each other out."