Filed under: my husband
I searched the crowd surreptitiously, and spotted him almost immediately. He was 6’2 – his height and shaved-short red hair set him apart from the other students waiting at the campus bus stop. It had been a few weeks, and he had been here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Broad-shouldered, handsome, and blue-eyed – he carried himself in a way that was both purposeful and relaxed. He looked confident. As always, his clothes were casual but unusually stylish and well coordinated, as though he had been dressed for a magazine photo shoot to embody “cool college guy”. I managed to catch his eye for a moment and we exchanged noncommittal stranger’s smiles. Eeek!
The weather was crisp and sunny– fall semester had recently started and I was wearing my most fabulous rock-star coat, red lipstick and tall boots. Confidence boosters were in order because today was going to be the day. Today I would strike up a casual conversation with Mr. Redheaded Awesome and see if he was more than a pretty face. I’m an optimistic person, but experience had highlighted the fact that handsome doesn’t always correspond with free-of-severe-character-defects. Could he possibly be intelligent and kind? Funny and liberal? Capable and honest? I innocently wandered in his general direction while exploring the contents of my backpack, finally halting directly beside him. Very slick – the bus stop was becoming more crowded, and he hadn’t noticed my ever-so-nonchalant approach.
Now, what to say? I had gone through different scenarios in my head for the past few weeks, but now that the moment had arrived, none of my clever approaches seemed to fit. Then I made a lucky discovery. He was wearing a t-shirt for one of my favorite bands! Aha! Before I could lose my nerve, I blurted out “Ah, I like your shirt. Flogging Molly. Great band. Did you see them at the Irish Festival last year?”
I held my breath and tried to smile casually as he turned in my direction, pretending it was the most normal thing in the world to comment on some ridiculously handsome stranger’s t-shirt at a campus bus stop. As though it was something I might do every day, rather than something I’d spent the last three weeks striking up the nerve to do.
He smiled and responded “you like Flogging Molly?” He had a warm, happy voice. He also said a few other things, and I’m pretty sure I responded, but the buzzing in my ears drowned out the content of our conversation, and his bus arrived before I could embarrass myself by saying something that didn’t make any sense. He smiled and waved a little before the bus drove away.
I’d done it! Now what?
The next class-day I was ready to set that hook. I’d formulated a plan.
I was at the bus stop before he arrived, sitting near where he had stood on Monday. When he arrived, I waited a few minutes and said “Oh, hey!” (as though I had just noticed he was there) “Flogging Molly, right?” (as though confirming that he was actually the man I had spoken with the previous Monday – har har) “I have something for you!” He looked rather surprised, but I plowed forward, sounding as cheerful and matter-of-fact as possible “Have you heard The Tossers? I just discovered them – they’re a great Irish punk band out of Chicago, and since we spoke yesterday, it occurred to me that you might like them. Let me burn you a disc, so you can try them out.” Then I whipped out my Mac laptop and a disc and started burning the new Tossers album before he could formulate a response.
After setting the disc to “burn”, I looked up and smiled at him, saying “There we go – it should be just a minute,” and he said “Hey, thanks – that’s great!” Then he started chatting with me about Apple computers. He looked very pleased, and his eyes were focused on mine with new interest. I could feel it – the hook was set. Triumph!
Ah, but a few moments into the burn, an error message appeared. The disc was bad! My perfect strategy was about to fail! Evasive action!
I looked up at him, and said, lightly, “Oh, dear – it looks like a bad disc. I won’t be able to burn the CD here after all. Care to grab some lunch instead?” It made no sense, but he bit. “Sure, I’d like that – where do you want to eat?”
That lunch was the beginning; because it was there that I discovered that he was more than just a pretty boy. He was also articulate and thoughtful and funny and talented and responsible and kind and interesting. After that day, we always met at “our” bus stop and walked together across the bridge (about a half mile) to the next bus stop, so we could talk together. The more I learned about him, the more I knew that he was The One. Ten months after we met, he proposed to me at a Flogging Molly concert. A few months after that, we were married.
In 2010, Abe and I will have our fifth anniversary. As with any new couple, getting to know each other takes some compromises and we had to make minor adjustments to our negotiation strategies early in the relationship to accommodate our different personalities. Those efforts helped each of us gain a better feel for how the other person thinks, which has been extraordinarily helpful in the intervening years.
I always know that no matter what challenges and joys we face, Abe is the man with whom I want to face them. He’s a wonderful husband and my best friend. Being married to Abe is immensely fun. We laugh and play together constantly. Life may be difficult or easy, but every day I can spend time loving and being loved by such a wonderful husband makes me feel like the luckiest woman on the planet.
M. Denise Nichols is a Northern Californian engaging in an ongoing search for a coat enormous enough to stave off Minnesota’s winter cold. She is a graduate student, entrepreneur, and bibliophile who lives with her sweetheart of a husband in Anoka.
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