Thursday, May 16, 2013

How I met my husband

Many times since this blog's inception, my husband has read a post and suspected that there was a secret message directed at him, hidden within my prose. Many times I have assured him that no, I am not trying to send him encrypted communication. While I have become fairly lame at informing him of certain details, like, "oh, by the way, Martha's teacher conference is tomorrow morning and if you love her, you will be there. Oh, can't make it? Yeah, I figured as much." Ha ha, just kidding, that's really overstating it. But what I started to say was that although I am not always on top of the passing-on-of-information, I have not considered the possibility of sending secret messages in my blog posts. That's because I'm not sure he actually reads it. But if I DID intend to encode subtle messages, it would be something like, "you might want to break out a new toothbrush... your old one may or may not have been used as a chew toy for the dog after I saw him eat poop on our walk today." See? As if that would ever happen... This is why I have not tried the secret message thing yet.

So today, I am writing about a story that is definitely, positively, directly related to him. No mistaking it. (That's why I put the word HUSBAND in the title.)

In 1995, I worked in downtown Minneapolis and I rode the #17 bus to work, complements of the Twin Cities Metro Transit (and my bus pass). Same story for Chris, although I lived a few miles farther down the route than he did. For years (I guess this makes 18?) we have been telling everyone that we met on the bus, because it sounds kind of cute and charming, a little unusual -- many people who are regular consumers of public transportation tend to be a little on the skanky side, which we obviously are not. What are the chances of meeting your future spouse on public transportation?! Very small, I'm sure I don't have to tell you.

But see, that's a lie. Although we did enjoy many jolly bus rides home, chatting and getting to know each other, we technically did not actually have our first introduction on the bus. One afternoon while I waited for my bus inside a small kiosk on Nicollet Mall, I was listening to two women discuss the Army and how one woman's brother had been in the Army and it didn't teach him nothin' but how to drink and shoot guns. I say I was "listening to" their discussion and not "eavesdropping" because it was a small space and these women were talking pretty loud, not like they were discussing top secret information so I really couldn't help but overhear the whole thing. And it was HILARIOUS. I loved their honesty, their cynicism about the value of the military experience. So there was this guy standing near me and I glanced over at him to see if he, too, was as highly amused as I was. He appeared to be minding his own business, like most normal people will who ride public transportation on a daily basis (and especially if you grew up in New York City, you have been taught early on not to make eye contact with other people because they are probably freaky axe murderers). Okay fine, I thought, I can mind my own business, too. Or, you know, pretend to. I never have been good at being discreet.

So here's the truth, bold and uncensored: later that afternoon I had gone to my local gym, the Uptown YWCA, to workout. I was in the weight room, most likely finishing up some bench presses with like, 100 lbs. or something, and I spotted Mr. I-mind-my-own-business-at-the-bus-stop. So I catch up to him by the drinking fountain and say, "So, did you catch that hilarious conversation at the bus stop this afternoon?" I am assuming he will take one look at me and know without a doubt that I was waiting at the same bus stop as he was because who doesn't like to just check everyone out and people-watch constantly? Well, I may have been off-base, I'm not sure he knew who the hell I was, but he did remember the Army commentary (I reminded him) so he was not totally oblivious and he was not entirely minding his own business afterall. We exchanged some chit-chat about where we worked and then he asked me my name. I told him. He told me his name, and presto! There's the actual introduction. All bus-based interaction took place following that exchange.

I'm not discounting the cute and charming potential of the story mind you, but I am pointing out that we've misrepresented ourselves and the initial moment our relationship began.

At our wedding, four years later, the Deacon who performed the ceremony told a story about us meeting at the bus stop and I believe he made reference to the 60s song "Bus Stop" by the Hollies. We had no idea he was going to say that, just as we were also quite taken by surprise when he pointed out to our wedding guests that our names were Christopher and Christen, which both contain the name Christ and he found that very meaningful but Chris and I had really never made note of that little fact and, although we are nice, good-hearted people, neither of felt any special affiliation with Christ but, whatever, it was a wedding, he was a religious dude, so we let it pass. It just seems like drawing a connection between our relationship and that Hollies' song is really misleading. It wasn't raining, neither of us had an umbrella, it was winter so the temperature was probably just above zero and we had big, puffy down parkas on that make you look like the Michelin tire man. And I can't claim to know all the lyrics but I'm pretty sure in the Hollies' song there's no loud woman disapproving of the Army's bad influence on her brother. Also, the Hollies make no mention of Christ, but I don't know if that observation is relevant.

Anyway, I apologize to anyone who has heard the bald-faced lie version of how we met on the bus. I'm sorry we made it sound so cute and charming. Chris may have thought I was blatantly hitting on him at the gym and how's that for the tackiest, cheesiest way to meet a guy/gal? I should probably feel more embarrassed about it. But I don't. Relationships are funny, as are the stories we tell, because they are so malleable. We shape them into what we want, what we need. All of history gets told in this flexible manner that leaves room for interpretation and perception to manipulate the truth.

On a totally different note, however, for anyone out there who is searching for that special someone, let me recommend the bus-ride-tactic as a very clever strategy in the big, wild world of dating. I mean, you don't literally have to be on the bus or even any other form of public transportation, but the idea is that you find some way to swing a conversation (or two or ten) before any actual dates have been arranged -- preferably something with a time limit of say, 20-30 minutes. It allows you to get to know a little about the person without having to be on an actual date, because you know how hideous dates can be sometimes. Quite frankly, if you can't think of a clever way to just bump into the person in a situation where they are stuck next to you for a brief period of time, I say just ask them flat out if they'd like to have a conversation which does not involve going to a public place and partaking of any form of food or drink together because you'd like to figure out if you want to ask them out on a date or not. Really, anyone with any sense of practicality will see the genius in this approach and appreciate your directness and the economy involved in the preliminary chat. If the chat doesn't go well, no one's out any money, barely any time was wasted, and you won't feel like a total loser because every date you have is a disaster. No date, no disaster. It's just a little chat. Everyone wins. You're welcome.

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