That’s all it took for Kim McMillan to fall for Matt Holbert.
That and his zest for baklava, she said.
She’ll always remember the day they met.
It was June 21, 1999 ... her sister’s birthday. She was living in Dayton, Ohio.
She wanted to go to a street fair and asked a friend to come along.
“She was just moving into a place with her boyfriend and asked me if the friend who was helping them move could come with us.
“I said, sure,” she said.
That friend was Matt Holbert.
She was drawn to his “fun zest for life,” whether it was eating, joking around or just making other people feel special.
“Matt enjoys food. And when he’s eating a food he likes, he does a happy dance. He has such a fun zest for life.”
He’s also a “real positive person,” she said.
“When he talks to you, he makes you feel like you’re the only person in the world. Now, I don’t know if that’s because he married me or if he makes everybody feel like that.”
It turned out they had a lot in common, including a unique sense of humor.
“It’s kind of off-the-wall,” she said. “Slightly irreverent. Mildly weird. Plus, he’s very punny.
“When I took him home for the first time to meet my parents, he and my mom just went at it for a while, trying to come up with the best puns,” she said.
“Nobody ever wins in a pun contest. The people who are forced to listen lose the most.” Again, she laughed.
Needless to say, he hit it off with her parents.
“And every time my parents asked him a question he didn’t want to answer — like, ‘What do you think of the battle of the sexes?’ The kind of question you know you cannot win, no matter which way you answer — he’d take a giant bite of food or change the subject, like, ‘I really like that wallpaper.’ Only, there’s no wallpaper in that room.
“He was quite funny, but my parents knew what he was doing. And they would try harder to get him to answer. It was outrageous.”
Her meeting his family was just as memorable.
The pair drove the two-and-a-half hours to Wheeling, but his parents weren’t home. Undaunted, Matt suggested they go for a walk to this beautiful waterfall he knew.
So they went.
“But there’s a difference between Ohio geography and West Virginia geography,” she said. “I’d never been in West Virginia before and it’s a bit more ... textured ... . That walk was not a stroll. It was more like a hike.
“I’m a flat-lander,” she said. “My mother’s family is from Indiana, where you can see tomorrow in front of you, yesterday behind you and into someone’s next week on the side. I like flat.”
They made it to the waterfall which by now, because of a summer drought, “was more of a trickle. I’ve seen more water coming out of a bathroom faucet,” she said, laughing. Combine a strenuous walk with summer heat, and add the stress of meeting your boyfriend’s parents for the first time.
“Yeah. I was in a lovely mood,” she said.
There was another wrinkle, too.
“His father is the most gentle, loving soul you’d ever meet ... until you deprive him of coffee or food. And he’d not eaten the first time I met him. I thought the man hated me.
“But Matt said, it wasn’t me. He just needed food,” she said with a laugh. But no need to worry.
“They honestly treat me like I’m another daughter. I have wonderful in-laws.”
After about a year and a half of dating, she suspected things were getting serious. And one day, she knew for sure.
“I was at his apartment when the call came from the jewelry store that the ring was in,” she said. “He’d told them to leave some vague message like his mother’s something-or-other was fixed.”
“You didn’t hear that,” Matt jokingly told her.
Months went by and no proposal. Each time they went out, she thought maybe this would be the time. But, no.
Then one day they went to the Cincinnati Aquarium. She saw the ring box in his pocket, so she thought he’d propose at some point when it would be all romantic.
“So we go all through this aquarium and nothing,” she said. “I was thinking maybe I was mistaken.”
They were leaving through the parking lot with a construction zone on one side and the muddy Ohio River in front of them. He stopped “and pops the question,” she said.
“Really? You had 15 beautiful locations inside to ask and you choose the construction site? Really?” she said she asked him.
“Oh, I give him grief, but it really was a lovely proposal, very sweet and thought-out,” she said.
They got married in June 2001, or as she said Matt likes to tell people, “Six two one, half a dozen of the other.”
(You’ve just been punned.)
They waited another 18 months for the wedding. He was helping his dad as a wedding photographer and she was the manager of a tux shop.
“He was going to seminary in Columbus. I was in Dayton and when they found out I was dating Matt seriously and driving from Dayton to Columbus, they kept moving me to stores closer and closer.”
Had she waited another day to ask her friend to go to that street fair, she knows Matt would not have been there.
“But before this, I lived in California, and he had to choose seminary there or in Ohio. So I have a feeling we would have met either way.”
Email Debra Minor Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Local News
Six Romeo brothers serve in World War II, return home
Every family has a history that has affected their lives and has made their family what it is.
For the Romeo family, one part of the family history holds a not-so-common occurrence.
In one generation of the Romeo family, during Word War II, six of Joseph and Catherine Romeo’s seven sons enlisted and served during the war. The remarkable thing is, all six returned home from serving in WWII.
West Virginia Poison Center to stay open
The West Virginia Poison Center no longer faces closure after the state Legislature passed a supplement.
A statewide budget cut of 7.5 percent was made by the West Virginia Legislature. The WVPC faced the state cut and an equal funding cut from the federal government.
Former cell mate: Michael Palmer ‘positive that there was going to be a gun fight’
Of the several witnesses who testified Friday in the first-degree murder trial of Michael Ian Palmer, one was Palmer’s cell mate when he was incarcerated at the North Central Regional Jail.
Palmer, of Baxter, was arrested in June 2012 and charged with the premeditated murder of his father-in-law, Everett “Ed” Wilson. Wilson was shot to death at the Baxter home of his daughter, Kristyn Palmer, and son-in-law, Michael Palmer, on Dec. 11, 2011.
Blackshere students use their imaginations in building traps
There’s a leprechaun on the loose at Blackshere Elementary School, and this isn’t the first year he’s gotten into the building.
911 tape, brass knuckles discussed
Brass knuckles and a 911 tape were just some of the pieces of evidence discussed Thursday in the first-degree murder trial of Michael Ian Palmer.
Commissioners-Humphreys legal battles settled
Four years and two lawsuits later, legal battles between the Marion County Commission, a former employee and two commissioners have finally been settled.
Fairmont Avenue accident causes traffic delays, power outage
A lost truck driver damaged two utilities poles and caused delays on Fairmont Avenue.
Palmer’s wife not compelled to testify
As part of the first-degree murder trial of Michael Ian Palmer, Marion Circuit Judge Michael John Aloi on Wednesday ruled that Kristyn Lorraine Palmer, Michael Palmer’s wife, is not compelled to testify at her husband’s trial.
‘Pinhole-size’ gas leak at Barrackville school
Barrackville Elementary/Middle School had a gas leak scare Wednesday morning.
Forestry officials give landowners extra time to order seedlings
West Virginia Division of Forestry officials are extending the deadline to order tree seedlings through April 30.
- More Local News Headlines
- Six Romeo brothers serve in World War II, return home