It was nine years ago when I met Ben. About 8 years, 11 months, and 15 days ago that I first saw him. But the whole story began several months before that when I was swept off my feet by another man. Well, guy, I guess. Although, since I was barely 20, this 24-year-old “guy” seemed like a man. He loved me, really loved me. Until he didn’t anymore.
And that whirlwind of love and rejection set the bitter, resentful stage that Ben unwittingly entered. I tried to throw him off a few times before I decided to share it with him forever, and I’m not sure I’ll ever really know what kept him coming back for more of my bitterness and resentment, but he did, and I eventually stopped giving him such a hard time.
So, there I was, freshly dumped by “the love of my life”, having decided to spend one semester at Gordon College with my two favorite people – my roommate Kristy and my little brother Scotty.
Scotty was a freshman on the basketball team at Gordon. He was actually one of eleven freshmen, which pretty much means that they stunk. But, it was pre-season, so we didn’t know just how bad it would be. Kristy and I didn’t have other friends at Gordon, so we sort of defaulted into the social circles of our four suitemates. They were the cool girls – the ones who partied and dated the lacrosse players.
As one of our default social activities with our default circle of friends, we attended the intramural flag football games to cheer for lax (see, I quickly learned the lingo of Massachusetts coolness) boys. We even wrote their names on our faces. Since Kristy and I weren’t dating any of these cool lax boys, we got the random names to write on our faces. As fate, destiny, and the prophetic work of God would have it, I was assigned to cheer for as short white guy named Ben (you will remember that my husband is neither short nor white).
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At First Sight
So, when I first saw my Ben, before he even knew who I was, I was at his football game with his name on my face.
But, lax boys, you see, have attitudes. And, do you know who else has attitudes? Former football players who are frustrated that they don’t get to play anymore. And miffed that lax boys think they are so cool. That game between the lax boys and football-players-turned-seminary-students was a testosterone-charged excuse for aggression.
And MY Ben – not the short white one, but the tall, skinny Indian one – was at the center of it all. The game got tense. I don’t have a clue what happened. It was chilly that day, and I was much more worried about looking cute even while my nose was turning red than I was about what was happening in the stupid football game. But, it seems that some lax boys broke some unwritten-yet-very-serious football code about roughing up a quarterback. And Ben felt the need to defend the quarterback.
There may or may not have been some foul language. And possibly some shoving. I really don’t remember. What I do remember, is that the unsportsmanlike conduct was spewing equally from both teams, but that the lax boys felt that the seminary guys should have “a better testimony.” And, since not-yet-but-soon-to-be-MY-Ben was incredibly verbal in his defense of the quarterback, my default-friends and were none too happy when the seminary student who should have known better became my boyfriend.
But, I get ahead of myself. Because though I had his name on my face, and I bore witness to the flag football carnage, Ben and I had no idea that we would actually meet someday.
(By the way, I feel like I remember Ben wearing a fanny pack of some sort that day. And I remember finding that very weird. He says that there was no fanny pack. Hmmm….)
A couple of weeks later, Kristy and I were joined by some of our suitemates at Midnight Madness, the official kick-off of men’s basketball season. I, as the proud and protective older sister of the freshman three-point-shooting superstar (and let’s not forget, also the future sister-in-law of the women’s freshman three-point-shooting superstar), was there to cheer on Scotty and, since I was newly single, check out who else was on the team.
Well, the team was made up of mostly freshmen, so there wasn’t much to check out there. But there were, for some reason, about 28 assistant coaches. Okay, there were like 6. But that is a lot for a basketball team. One of the assistant coaches quickly became a topic of conversation.
It was the football-playing seminary student with the bad attitude! And, he had been introduced as the coach who was supposed to be concerned with the spiritual health of the team. Imagine… what a hypocrite. Hadn’t anyone seen how out of control he was on the field?! And, so went our own very spiritually superior discussion.
And then the discussion took a turn. Please understand, the North Shore of Massachusetts is about as ethnically diverse as… well, I can’t think of an appropriate analogy… it’s just not diverse at all. So, soon-to-be-MY Ben’s brown skin stood out. And the logical question to ask, was, “What is he?” Yes, I know, shameful. I’m just keepin’ it real.
The general consensus amongst my friends was that he was “half black, half Mexican.” But in another fateful, destined, surely prophetic twist, I was the lone voice of truth. “I think he’s Indian,” I said. Oh yes, that grand insight must have been a sign that true love was to come.
But since we were immature college students who had all grown up in sheltered, all-white communities, we felt it was appropriate to just refer to the tall, dark coach with a bad attitude as “Ethnic Boy” until the mystery of his ancestry could be officially solved.
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To Be Continued (Maybe)....