Friday, September 14, 2012

They met by chance on a random Tuesday - Dallas Morning News

Cheri Whiteside got lost while parking her car at D/FW Airport and wound up in a remote lot that she’d never parked in before. Then she found something unexpected and life-changing.

Coming back to Dallas a few days later, on Sept. 2, 2008, Cheri hopped on the Parking Spot shuttle and was just ready to get home. She was a little annoyed when the shuttle driver turned around to pick up another passenger. Once Jack Leutz boarded, Cheri found that the “good-looking guy” was not annoying.

“The first thing I noticed was a pair of gray Converse,” says Jack, who was sporting gray New Balance sneakers. “I saw those shoes, and then I noticed the pretty girl who was wearing them, and I sat across from her.”

Jack uncharacteristically launched into a conversation with Cheri, complimenting her footwear. She noted his gray sneakers.

“‘Gray is a really spectacular color. … They go with almost anything.’ It was that kind of conversation where it was kind of about nothing and everything,” she says.

Their instant connection caught them both by surprise. Jack says it usually takes time to work up the nerve to ask anyone for a phone number, but he knew he had to act quickly before the shuttle got to the parking lot.

“When I started to realize I had a genuine interest in this girl, I started to rattle off two or three of my most important prerequisites,” says Jack, 28, “including whether she liked Mexican food.”

Cheri’s answers were so spot-on that Jack got the phone number with little time to spare.

“I got off the shuttle first and was just so giddy about meeting him, and I’m not normally like that,” she says.

When Jack noticed Cheri getting into a Honda Accord the same color as his, he couldn’t resist texting.

“Hey, you drive a beat-up Honda Accord, too.”

Cheri texted back: “You’re stalking me already?”

The rapport was instant, and a mutual understanding of each other’s wit and sarcasm began.

Jack, a sixth-grade teacher, planned a daylong date â€" including an SMU football game, Mexican food at Desperados, of course, and drinks and dancing at Sambuca in Uptown. He only told Cheri to dress “medium.”

“He wouldn’t tell me anything, and my mom’s terrified because I met this man on a shuttle and I didn’t even know his last name,” says Cheri, who supervises volunteers at Dallas CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocates). “I had two of my good friends at my house to be there when he picked me up.”

Their eight-hour date concluded with a dance and a first kiss to “Hey Jude.” Their first date was never awkward, and Jack and Cheri became inseparable for the next three years, even as both went through career changes.

When Jack found a cheap flight to Colorado Springs, he booked two tickets and started brainstorming. With help from the Parking Spot, Jack had a shuttle waiting for him and Cheri in September 2011. Cheri thought it was a little strange that not only did they have a reserved parking spot but also a covered one.

“I thought it was a bit fishy because we like to go for the most affordable option,” says Cheri, 29. “He’s usually not a call-ahead kind of guy.”

When they stepped onto the shuttle, with “Hey Jude” playing in the background, Jack dropped to one knee.

Jack only remembers telling Cheri, “It’s been so natural from the beginning.”

Jack and Cheri were married July 28 in Woodland Park, Colo. The Parking Spot provided shuttles for their wedding party.

Do you have a story of true romance? Email Kathleen Green at dmngreen@sbcglobal.net.

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