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 accused him of being a “Bible Thumper” 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. Looking back, I have no idea why they had to be “white,” but again we’re talking about the Olden Days.
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 sh*t, 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 the pavement as he sped 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 level best 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 an actual brick-and-mortar building called 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 (yeah, this was back in the Olden Days when phones were still attached to the walls by a cord).
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. (People used to smoke cigarettes back in the Olden Days. Heck, we could still smoke in most public buildings like schools and the bank.)
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. (Back in the day, even grown-ups struggled to admit their sexual orientations to their families, some friends, and co-workers, so they would ask their friends to pose as their “significant others” for them in public.)
9. Begin dating the “fairer sex.” (Which I’m not ashamed to admit was quite enjoyable.)
10. Wear a really ugly, but surprisingly sturdy, thick ol’ 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.)
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 sexual chemistry and our mutual appreciation of confrontation in common, so the relationship continued, off and on, with lots of give-and-take … until he finally realized that he couldn’t imagine a life without me. The rest, as they say, is herstory.
- Alex Forrest was the spurned lover/antagonist of the groundbreaking cinematic phenomenon of 1987 entitled Fatal Attraction written by James Dearden, directed by Adrian Lyne, which starred Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, and Anne Archer. The movie’s tagline was “On the other side of dinner, drinks, and a one night stand, lies a terrifying love story.”
- Marilyn French was a radical, highly controversial feminist author during the mid-20th century. One of her more biographical protagonists once claimed, “Whatever they may be in public life, whatever their relations with men, in their relations with women, all men are rapists, and that’s all they are.” To which I say a resounding, “Bullcaca.” But, I’ve grown up since then.