Well, okay, she grew up next to the Royal Palace of Fez, not in the palace,
but it was all the same to me. For a guy who grew up in a thick cloud of blue-eyed blondes, she was the very personification of the exotic. She was a raven-haired, dark-eyed beauty whose olive-skin seemed to give off the very aroma of……mystery. She opened her mouth and out drifted foreign words —-French! The universally officially authorized language of ….love!
She was an international exchange student and I was one of at least 100 guys matriculating (“studying” is perhaps a bit too strong) at our college because it wasn’t in Vietnam and it was close to home.
On the second day of classes, she was sitting in the coffee shop, the the hangout for all of us low-grade townies that the college let in, just to improve town-and-gown relations. She pulled out a pack of Gaulloise, the unfiltered preference of dedicated Parisian cafe provocateurs, and the room turned an ethereal blue. I suppressed an urge to sign up for Advanced French. Just listening to all the Z‘s substituting for th’s and the ee sounds plugged in to the i positions, I was smitten.
She told me she was Jewish, which I had trouble believing because everybody knows that Morocco is an Arab country. My doubts increased when I brought a toasted bagel out of the cafeteria and she said “what is zzat?” That was before I knew the difference between Ashkenazim or Sephardim, let alone Mizrahim, the latter of which don’t know from bagels.
She had been a philosophy major in high school. Imagine that, a philosophy major in high school! Heck, we were just learning how to spell “philosophy” when I was in high school. I was sure she must be a genuine intellectual. She spoke meanderingly of Camus and Sartre, which is when I found out Jean-Paul’s name is not pronounced “Sar-tray.” Obviously, she was a genuine philosophe.
Our relationship progressed through 7 years of fits and starts and separations. She shocked her friends and family by tumbling into discipleship behind Jesus of Nazareth and was accused by the chairman of the philosophy department of being a Calvinist. That’s how I found out she had guts, because Jewish girls are definitely not supposed to become Calvinists, or even Mennonites. She moved off to Paris to tell the Arabs living there that Jesus was the Mahdi, while I at last received my draft notice and shipped out to spend two years in the Army Medical Corps.
You do not rush into marrying a princess, so after 7 years I finally made my move, proposing in the shadow of Big Red, the West Michigan lighthouse where I spent the days of my youth illegally jumping off the breakwaters and fighting the rip currents (good thing she was a lifeguard-class swimmer). She said “yes,” we got married, and immediately produced four babies in four years. That was before the doctor showed me where the “off” button was. After thirty-three years, it’s been a romp, and I’d do it all over again.
You want the woman you marry to be crazy, gutsy, passionate, dedicated, honest and capable of deep commitment. And that’s her. She’s all mine. Get your own.