Part 1: Okay, now you have my attention
I was sitting in the college newspaper office in August of 2001 waiting for the editorial board meeting to start, when the meteor struck directly through the roof of the student center, pierced my heart, and landed, quietly smoldering, in its own little crater on the dusty off-blue tile floor.
That’s what it felt like. Seeing the underdog football team pull off a miracle win with a crazy trick play. Having a police car turn on its lights and sirens directly behind you.
But all that really happened was that a girl I had never seen before had walked in and sat down across from me.
Imagine the scene: I’m sitting there in the newspaper office in the basement of our student center. It’s messy, because it is a newspaper office. There is a large table off to one side, where a few of us were scattered, excitedly chattering about the beginning of a new year.
Then she walks in, and is introduced as the new copy editor.
I know I’m easily won, but you have to imagine that someone had taken a plaster impression from my dreams and memories and, from component parts, joined together everything that had ever melted me before, even marginally. Hot Copy Editor had brown chin-length hair, big eyes, a cute nose, and a unique sense of style. The overall effect was devastating.
Which brings me to something we need to talk about: in August of 2001, I had a girlfriend.
She was gorgeous herself, with a kind of Eastern European dark-eyed fierce vulnerability. Our relationship at the time was like Czechoslovakia in the early 80s. The mutual economic and political benefits of communism scarcely outweighed the fundamental incompatibilities of the Czech and Slovak peoples, who eventually realized, after regaining democratic power in the Velvet Revolution of 1989, that they would be better off alone. Except, for this analogy to work, you need to pretend that communism is incredibly sexy.
Now, these things happen. When you’re with someone, there are other hot people out there who might compete for your heart: people like Scarlett Johansson and Judi Dench. As long as you’re secure with yourself and your relationship, they can have no hold on you.
But, like Mikhail Gorbachev, this was going to be a different thing entirely.
I didn’t think about any of those things at the time. I didn’t pay any attention to the meeting, and I’m pretty lucky I don’t actively have to think about my lymphatic system or it would definitely have stopped working, because, seriously, who even remembers the lymphatic system anyway.
All I wanted to do was look at her.