‘He is the most kind­hearted per­son’

The Washington Post Sunday - - ON LOVE - BY ME­GAN MCDONOUGH me­gan.mcdonough@wash­post.com

Even be­fore their first date, Kathy Gran­nis and Casey Allen had to over­come a se­ries of mis­un­der­stand­ings.

It started with the cou­ple’s first en­counter, at Fado Ir­ish Pub in Washington in Oc­to­ber 2008. Kathy, notic­ing Casey from across the crowded bar, en­listed a friend of a friend to act as her wing­man to ap­proach him.

She was sur­prised when the friend re­turned and re­ported that Casey wasn’t in­ter­ested. She was par­tic­u­larly con­fused when she learned why: He had seen her “kiss­ing” his friend ear­lier that night.

In re­al­ity, Kathy had leaned in close to the stranger seated next to her — Casey’s pal — to ask him to guard her bar stool. Casey hap­pened to look over at that mo­ment and mis­in­ter­preted their ex­change as ro­man­tic.

Luck­ily, the con­fu­sion was re­solved when Kathy and Casey struck up a con­ver­sa­tion while wait­ing for drinks. “He walked up to me, stuck out his hand and said, ‘I heard you wanted to meet me. I’m Casey,’ ” Kathy re­calls. “I turned beet red and said, ‘ Yes, yes I did.’ ”

Af­ter the ini­tial awk­ward­ness, the pair hit it off and soon dis­cov­ered they had at­tended ri­val high schools in South­ern Mary­land. Be­fore long, the two slipped away from their friends to the qui­eter RFD Washington bar next door.

They con­tin­ued talk­ing un­til clos­ing. “We just had so much fun,” says Kathy, a se­nior di­rec­tor of media re­la­tions for the Na­tional Re­tail Fed­er­a­tion. “There were no lulls. It was easy.”

“It was one of those mo­ments where you just know this was a great per­son to be with,” adds Casey, an em­ployee and la­bor re­la­tions spe­cial­ist at the Depart­ment of Com­merce. “Even if it didn’t work out to be a re­la­tion­ship, it would def­i­nitely be a friend­ship.”

The mix-ups, how­ever, didn’t end there. At the end of the night, Kathy was un­der the im­pres­sion that Casey was mov­ing to South Korea (Casey had re­cently re­turned to the United States af­ter teach­ing English abroad for a year).

“When we caught up again, a few days later, I said, ‘I’d re­ally love to see you be­fore you move,’ ” Kathy says. He replied, “I’m mov­ing of­fices, not to Korea!”

She was elated, and, within a week, they re­turned to Chi­na­town for their first date at the old PS7’s. The night started out a bit rocky as Kathy’s cos­mopoli­tan, filled to the brim, spilled onto Casey’s lap.

“My un­der­wear was soaked,” Casey jokes. Thank­fully, he laughed it off.

Af­ter drinks, Kathy sug­gested they try Clyde’s for din­ner. Man­ag­ing a lim­ited bud­get, Casey sug­gested they go in­stead to the near­est burger joint, Harry’s in the Ho­tel Har­ring­ton.

“The idea of tak­ing some­body out to din­ner was al­ready a tough thing for me,” Casey says. “The strug­gle was real.”

She didn’t mind a bit. “Kathy looked at me and said, ‘ That’s great! Even bet­ter,’ ” Casey says. Kathy kicked off her heels, switched into flip-flops and pro­ceeded to Harry’s.

The more they talked, the more their in­ter­est grew. They even be­friended the bar­tender, who pep­pered them with ques­tions test­ing their com­pat­i­bil­ity the en­tire evening. “We im­me­di­ately re­al­ized our per­son­al­i­ties matched,” Kathy says.

Casey liked Kathy’s adapt­abil­ity. “I grewup mov­ing a lot as a kid, and so I’ve al­ways learned that . . . the best thing you can do is to stick out your hand and say hi,” Casey says. “She has that same abil­ity. She can walk up to any­body and have a con­ver­sa­tion.”

Kathy found Casey to be “a true gen­tle­man.”

“I felt like he was wise be­yond his years. I re­mem­ber what I was like at 25, liv­ing in a city, and I was not that ma­ture,” Kathy re­calls. “He got my chair . . . he got my beers, he held the door— l mean things that are stereo­typ­i­cal of a first date but I felt were gen­uine.”

Kathy would soon dis­cover that Casey was more of an old soul than she ini­tially thought— he had added a few months to his age and was ac­tu­ally 24, not 25. “I don’t know re­ally why, but I wanted to seem a lit­tle bit older,” Casey says, laugh­ing. “This led to an awk­ward con­ver­sa­tion, af­ter the fact, when my birth­day was com­ing up.”

Luck­ily, Kathy found the rev­e­la­tion more funny than trou­ble­some. “I did say, ‘ Look, I’m 29. I spent the lat­ter half of my 20s in the city hav­ing fun. . . . Are you sure you would like to be in a re­la­tion­ship?’ ” Kathy re­calls ask­ing. “‘ Be­ing 20-some­thing in the city is a pretty spe­cial ex­pe­ri­ence. . . . I don’t want to take that away from you if this isn’t some­thing you want.’ ”

But he did, and weeks into dat­ing, he bought the pair Na­tion­als sea­son tick­ets. “The whole pur­pose is that I could spend more time with her,” Casey says. “It was a guar­an­teed 13 more dates with her. I played the long game on that one.”

The two bonded over the ball­games and be­came avid fans of the team and each other. Kathy in­tro­duced him to her par­ents af­ter one month, and within two they were ex­chang­ing “I love yous.” Af­ter a lit­tle over a year of dat­ing, they moved in to­gether.

“She has pas­sion, and I love that about her. I see it at the base­ball games, when she gets into top­ics re­lated to work, when she’s around an­i­mals,” Casey says. “When she be­lieves in some­thing, she re­ally sticks to it. . . . I find that re­fresh­ing.”

Kathy ad­mires Casey’s gen­eros­ity. “He is the most kind­hearted per­son I’ve ever met,” she says.

The two had be­gun talk­ing about mar­riage by their sec­ond an­niver­sary, and Casey be­gan sav­ing for a ring.

On Jan. 25, 2014, Kathy threwa 30th birth­day party for Casey at their fa­vorite bar, Stet­son’s on U Street. In front of 30 of their friends, Casey took a knee and asked Kathy to “bemy best friend for the rest ofmy life.”

“It was just what I wanted,” Kathy says. “It was very us.”

Kathy Gran­nis, 35, wed Casey Allen, 31, on May 16 be­fore 90 rel­a­tives and friends at the his­toric Whittemore House near Dupont Cir­cle. At the re­cep­tion, the bride slipped on blue Con­verse sneak­ers un­der her el­e­gant strap­less wed­ding gown, and guests dined on food-truck fare, in­clud­ing grilled cheese from the Big Cheese and lob­ster rolls from Red Hook Lob­ster Pound.

To tie in their love of base­ball, the cou­ple en­tered the re­cep­tion to the base­ball an­them “Cen­ter­field” by John Fogerty and used vintage Cracker Jack tins as their cen­ter­pieces.

“Casey and I are best friends and al­ways have been,” Kathy said af­ter the wed­ding. “Since we’ve been mar­ried, that friend­ship feels more so­lid­i­fied. . . . I feel I have a friend and a part­ner for the rest ofmy life.”

“It was one of those mo­ments where you just know this was a great per­son to be with. Even if it didn’t work out to be a re­la­tion­ship, it would def­i­nitely be a friend­ship.”

Casey Allen

PHOTOS BY CHANCE HAM­MOCK AND KELLI BREWER

Kathy Gran­nis and Casey Allen were mar­riedMay 16 in front of 90 guests at the his­toric Whittemore House near Dupont Cir­cle. The pair met at Fado Ir­ish Pub in­Wash­ing­ton in Oc­to­ber 2008.

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