Sometimes when people ask me, “How did you meet your wife?” I sense what they really want to know, “Is your wife a mail order bride?”
Taking a mail order bride doesn’t offend me.
What offends me is that people believe I would take a mail order bride.
Do people see me as one of those dudes with a shaggy back and duct tape holding together his glasses, browsing online bride sites?
I’m sure I’ll get plenty of hate mail from mail order bride business owners swearing they get tons of business from hipsters.
And I’ll probably hear from scores of cool dudes who found mail order bliss and swear they could have picked up a bride in person down at their local watering hole if they weren’t so busy and successful.
Actually, Bovey and I met through work while we were both living in New York, but sometimes when I tell people this, I see that glimmer of doubt in their eyes.
In their mind, I’m sure they are picturing me wandering around Concourse A of LaGuardia Airport with a sign around my neck that says Wilcox, waiting for Bovey to walk up to me.
Bovey worked for the China Institute and I for the American Forum for Global Education. The two organizations collaborated on The China Project, a teacher training initiative. Bovey and I did all the grunt work.
We talked on the phone a lot before actually meeting in person. During our collaboration, I sometimes made up excuses to call her.
“Hey. You think we have enough cheese for the reception?”
“Do we have enough cheese? These teachers will loot the place if we run out of cheese.”
“Who is this?”
After a while, I had to see Bovey in person, so I made up an excuse to visit her.
I told her that for the upcoming series of lectures to be held at the China Institute, we needed a proper map of China and volunteered that I possessed just such a map and could drop it off.
Mind you we’re talking about the China Institute here. They probably had enough maps of China to paper the entire Great Wall.
Oh, yeah, I was smooth.
There’s a circular staircase just inside the Upper East Side building, and that was the first time I saw Bovey, coming down the stairs in heels and a navy pinstripe dress.
I remember smiling like an idiot and not knowing what to say, feeling a little light-headed. I don’t remember much after that.
Weeks later, during a lecture at the Institute, I screwed up the courage to ask Bovey out for a drink afterward.
We went to an internet cafe in the East Village.
I know what you’re thinking. Internet cafe. Total nerd. In my defense, the place was Bovey’s idea. Besides, it was late and the place was convenient, just a half a block from Bovey’s apartment. And we didn’t even use a computer.
We each had a drink and I walked Bovey home then caught the subway back to my place in Brooklyn. I’m lucky I didn’t get mugged on the train because I sat lost in my thoughts, completely unaware of the world around me.
I might not be the coolest guy around, but at that moment, going back over our time in the cafe, picturing Bovey’s smile, feeling the warmth of those brown eyes that held my gaze all night, I felt sure and carefree, bulletproof, like some kind of Johnny Depp.