Opposites (Near-fatally) Attract
That handsome man pictured with me above is my lawfully wedded spice. He is the love of my life. In fact, I adore him most of the time. We met in the way, way back and were as different as two people could possibly be. Our love of philosophy is what brought us together. That and teenage hormones. A bizarre mutual respect mixed with a healthy dose of fear is what probably kept us coming back for more. Over the past twenty-odd years, I believe it’s still the chemistry and our growing willingness to communicate that has kept us together. When we first met, we were like a square peg and a round hole. But I finally crushed his resolve and wore him down. Now, we fit together quite nicely. He truly is the yang to my yin.
The College Years
We met while attending Texas Tech University back in the Spring semester of 1990. We were both still practically babies then (read: teenagers), taking Professor Curzer’s honor’s philosophy class entitled Ethics and Moral Issues. I was fairly combative back in the day, and I always enjoyed playing Devil’s Advocate for Professor Curzer, while Marc, who was equally combative, preferred quoting Holy Writ to add zing to his arguments. As you can imagine, we tended towards some pretty heavy verbal sparring. Often, in front of the entire class — which seemed to rather enjoy our back-and-forth banter and even cheered us on, on occasion.
Needless to say, we both made some serious assumptions about each other: I called him “the Bible-thumping Jimmy Swaggart” and he just knew I was on a fast track straight to hell. An actual conversation we once had:
Marc: “Are you a witch? Like Wiccan or something.”
Me: “You’re an idiot.”
Yeah. It was the perfect storm for a rousing and tumultuous love-hate relationship.
Our first date was actually hidden in the guise of a study lunch on Aristotle, and how that topic lasted long into the wee hours of the night and enticed our romantic passions, I cannot say. But, believe it or not, from the moment we wrapped up our first date I was tempted to marry him — just so I could tell people how we’d met.
Even setting aside my ridiculously romantic notions, I knew very early on that I was in fact falling for Marc. I made the mistake of proclaiming my love for him on our third or fourth date. Hey, I was a noob. To my credit, I couched the confession in the brashest of terms possible. I may have been a closet Romantic, but outwardly, I was a strong, independent woman of the nineties with a devil-may-care reputation to protect. After all, I was an avid fan of “Tough White Women Night,” which is what my friends and I had christened our Murphy Brown, The Golden Girls and Designing Women marathons.
I declared, “Look, Marc. I need to tell you something.” Which, in hindsight I realize was girl code for “Brace yourself, Baby,” and probably should have sent him running for dear life; but he was trapped in his Jeep with me at the time. I took a deep breath and explained, “It’s a little like stepping in shit, ya’ know? I mean, I didn’t see it coming. Once it happens, you can’t do a whole lot about it either. I mean, I didn’t mean for it to happen at all, but … ah hell, I think I’m falling in love with you.” His response? “Yeah? Well, I don’t love you.” My response was “Yeah? Well, you’re an asshole.” To my credit, I didn’t cry in his Jeep. To his credit, he didn’t leave skid marks on his way out of the parking lot.
I Got By With a Lot of Help From my Friends. And Malibu Rum and Coke.
I did my damndest to give him up. Mind you, these were the pre-Internet days. I couldn’t just google up How to Avoid Obsessing over a Guy: 15 Steps (with Pictures). Google was a library’s card catalogue file and I was far too busy and impatient for that. So, I compiled my own brilliant self-help guide.
The College Gal of the ’90s Top 10 Ways to Avoid Alex Forrest Syndrome
1. Tape index cards scribbled with “I hate __X__” all over your apartment to help stiffen your resolve.
2. Avoid that douchebag like the clap. Rip your phone out of the wall if you have to.
3. Warn all of your friends that if you so much as speak his filthy name, they are to redirect you pronto (with or without the promise of alcohol, just so long as it gets the job done.)
4. Start reading Marilyn French.
5. List all of his disgusting habits and every mean thing he’s ever said or done to you. Review this list daily … or more often if you’re ovulating.
6. Join the National Organization of Women and attend as many smoke-filled dank-basement meetings as possible.
7. Befriend Women’s Studies’ majors.
8. Start dating any still-closeted gay friends, blissfully bearding for them at frat parties and family functions, as long as there is booze. There’s absolutely no reason why you can’t still look fabulous, hit the clubs, and drink like a fish, Girlfriend.
9. Experiment with dating the fairer sex. This is college, after all.
10. Wear a really ugly, but surprisingly sturdy, rubber band around your wrist and snap that bastard every time you think of him. Thank you Psych 101 for introducing me to Aversion Therapy. Not. All it did was leave a nasty bruise on my arm.
It was a fabulous list even if it didn’t work. Seriously, nothing worked.
Luckily, over time, we actually got to know one another. It was a long and fairly painful process, but in hindsight, totally worth it. Of course, I still thought he was self-righteous and arrogant, and he was still concerned about the state of my eternal soul, but we were able to learn that we had more than chemistry and our mutual appreciation of confrontation in common, so the relationship continued, off and on, until I finally convinced him to marry me. The rest, as they say, is herstory.