Isn’t it Romantic, or Preoccupied With Hubby

Today Hubby and I are celebrating our thirteen year Anniversary, so I have Hubby on the brain. In 2007, I wrote an essay for a Valentine’s Day contest asking readers to share their own romantic story at one of the book review sites I frequent. (I actually won the contest!) Anyway, I’ve made a few revisions to the entry, and thought I would share it here. So, no mention hardly any mention of That Other Guy today. This one’s for my Hubby.

* * *


My babies, (and preferred social circle), circa 2nd year vet school. Top left to bottom right: Corrie Ten Boom, Thomas The Dog, Marrblecat, Halford, and Simon.

I was a second-year veterinary student when I was first introduced to my husband, H. For a little background, it should be acknowledged that at the time, I was rather a loner… that is to say, I lived alone, I was the quiet-type, and was well-known to be at the top of the class. Though not particularly outgoing, I was always friendly and did have friends in vet school, but at the end of the day, I would rather go home to my 2 dogs and 3 cats, study, watch a movie, surf e-bay, read a novel. I very rarely socialized.


Here is Vince. Would you trust his judgment? =)

One of my classmates, Vince, was pretty much my polar opposite. A military man. Good ol’ boy. President of several vet student organizations. He was a sharp guy, but also the loud, raucous class comedian. Vince was married, and one day early in the fall semester, he announced, in his trademark commanding manner, that he wanted me to meet his neighbor. “His name is H. You’re perfect for each other. You’re going to love him!” Well, knowing Vince, at first I suspected this was some sort of practical joke. That H would be an old man, have astonishing body odor and wear a toupee. I laughed it off. After all, Vince didn’t know me that well; we were friends, but by no means confidants. And Vince enjoyed being a buffoon. Why would I take it seriously?

But surprisingly, Vince kept after me. “You have to meet H. He’s a great guy. He’s exactly like you.” This interested me. What did Vince mean, exactly like me? “Well,” Vince explained, “He’s a hermit, like you. Loves animals, like you. Nice person, like you.” He rattled off a long list of H’s qualifications. “Intellectual, like you. Ridiculously smart, like you.” I asked Vince if this was a joke- since when did he play matchmaker? Vince assured me emphatically that he never “normally” played matchmaker, but in this case… he lost his thread. Then admitted that his wife, Anne, was also strongly convinced that H and I would make a perfect match. Now, this surprised me even more, because at the time, I didn’t know Anne well at all, other than in passing acquaintance. Apparently, it was a team effort: Anne was working on convincing H that I was perfect for him, and Vince had to do his part by pestering me at school on a daily basis.


This is the academic building at the vet school. Many fond memories… excluding the anatomy lab. Never again!

I admit, I was growing curious. Naturally, as any vet student worth her salt would agree, my first question was whether the neighbor guy had pets. “Yes, indeed. Has 3 cats.” What did he do? “Graduate student in Engineering. Owns a business.”

I pondered that for a day or two, and the next time Vince brought it up, I asked for a physical description. “Uh.. Tall, broad… taller than me.” (At over 6 feet himself, this comment from Vince was saying something!) I’m sure Anne, being female, would have been ready with the important details, but with Vince, I had to probe for the particulars. “Well… dark hair, and… blue…no, make that… maybe green?… eyes.” I decided all of this sounded remarkably tempting, regardless of whether the eyes were green or blue. I began to consider that I might be interested in an introduction, after all.

Meanwhile, Anne was endeavoring to tempt H into an introduction, and having some problems convincing him that Vince’s idea had any merit whatsoever. He’s reclusive in his own right, and was still rebounding from a previous girlfriend who Vince assured me was a “bitch on wheels.” In all, it took roughly a month for Vince and Anne, working in tandem, to persuade us to agree to consider meeting one another. Although H maintains, to this day, that his interest was sparked by their insistence that I was “super smart and loved animals”, I think the real clincher may have been Anne’s teasing recommendation that I was “much more generously endowed” than she herself was. Anne later told me that his ear tips went pink every time she ran that one by him.


Yeah, so come to think of it… this is pretty much exactly what I began to imagine H might look like…

For me, it was the idea of a tall, dark and handsome with three spoiled felines. I had an image of H in my head… as an engineering graduate student, I thought of him as the conservative type. I imagined dark locks and sexy blue (or would it be green?) eyes, and you can be sure I had him wearing a pair of scholarly glasses. I imagined him stretched out in bed… with a cat curled up on a broad, muscular chest… Yes, I was definitely feeling interested. So after considerable nudging on Vince’s part, when one of the vet student organizations had a get-together at The Cue, a local pool hall, one Friday evening in October, I actually consented to his suggestion that I meet H over a game of billiards. Feeling an odd combination of bemused resignation, anticipation and trepidation, I fixed myself up, and attended.

Vince and Anne were already there. H was not. Vince said that they’d mentioned it to H, but hadn’t dragged him along until they had an official sighting of yours truly. It was never a sure thing, my turning up at a social event. (I must admit, I was somewhat elusive, and still am, when it comes to organizational gatherings.) So Anne left quickly to run home and try to convince their neighbor to come out and play some pool. I was nervous and admittedly rather excited. It had been over a year since I’d had a boyfriend, and I was lonely for male companionship. Romantic movies and novels really only carry a person so far.


This isn’t actually H either. It’s his doppelgänger circa the engineering grad student days.

After about 45 minutes, (she’d apparently spent some time cajoling him), Anne returned. Behind her was a tall, broad individual with… a skinhead shaved skull and a long goatee???? In black boots, black leather jacket, wearing some sort of black crystal pendant??? Oh, crud!

He was so not my type.

The fact was, he looked frightening. Rather… subversive. Where was the studious, conservative chemical engineer? Had Anne been unable to find H, and just pulled in any old someone off the street? This guy could be a Neo-Nazi… or maybe a drug dealer… Why had I put my faith in Vince, of all people? I should have known he couldn’t be trusted! My best friend, a petite Japanese-American classmate named Miwa, saw H too. “Oh no!!” she giggled. “You should never have listened to Vince!”


So is it better to say we met in a bar, or a pool hall?

While Miwa chortled merrily, I tried to collect myself. I’m sure my face was comical. Trying to paste on a friendly, open smile… and not laugh, and not cry. H bought himself a beer and made his way over to the pool table where Anne had joined Vince. He looked me directly in the eye and smiled as he passed our table. I smiled back, and Miwa, enjoying herself immensely, chided me for “grimacing” at the poor man.

I thought about finishing up the game and sneaking home, not because I didn’t want to meet him at all, but mainly because I knew what was coming. I’d have to make it clear that, well, He Just Wasn’t My Type. I didn’t want to embarrass Vince and Anne, and I certainly didn’t want to hurt the guy’s feelings- he did have a nice enough smile. I was ever the sort to empathize, and hated to reject a guy under any circumstances. Even a great big, muscle-bound skinhead. On the one hand, if Vince and Anne were correct, and H was an especially nice guy, he’d probably feel let down. On the other hand, if H was as scary as he looked, well, I wouldn’t want to antagonize this individual either! Miwa and I finished the game. We looked at one another. Her eyes were twinkling in her otherwise solemn, Asian face. “It’s time,” she intoned.

As it turned out, once we joined Vince, Anne and H, I realized that of course he really wasn’t mean at all. In fact, he seemed far more likely to be a big teddy bear. I certainly developed an immediate appreciation for his sense of humor. H is most assuredly a reclusive man, but when he happens to be in a group situation, he’s actually quite sociable. And if there happens to be another humorous-type in the group, H can trade funny remarks and keep the laughter going with ease. The game may have been pool, but the jokes and good-natured insults bantered back and forth between Vince and H were more reminiscent of a world-championship ping-pong match. H cracked me up. He had a merry face and such a funny way with Vince that I could see why Vince insisted he was a great guy. I was starting to think so, too. Of course, great guy does not equal romantic interest. Not my type. But great guy might just equal new friend.


A few of the keepers.

The conversation turned to obsessive behaviors and the topic of rocks came up. In addition to his post-graduate studies in chemical engineering, H owned an online business selling fine mineral specimens to rock collectors. As a dealer, he bought beautiful specimens for wholesale prices, and made enough profit selling the majority of them to finance his own obsessive collection. That really perked my interest. As a youngster, I was a rock collector. I spent countless hours at those tourist-type rock shops, mooning over large amethyst geodes and picking out pretty and colorful little crystals of every description. I also gathered and toted home all manner of interesting rocks when I was playing outdoors. And recently, with a degree in Zoology and an abiding interest in critters, I had started surfing e-bay and compulsively bidding on fossils.


Kissed. Right smack in the middle of his forehead. Not sure how I knew… pheromones? Here’s Jack. This cat always gave the best head bumps.

After several games of pool, H invited Vince, Anne, Miwa and me to his apartment to view the mineral collection. I was most impressed! The superior mineral specimens H kept displayed in a wall-high lighted curio case were like nothing I’d encountered as a rockhound kid. His enthusiasm as he brought out his garnets and smoky quartz and calcites and beryls and tourmalines and rhodochrosites and fluorites… well, suffice it to say that it was obvious that an obsession with fine minerals was the right word for the situation. I met his cats, too. When the big orange tabby, Jack, bumped his head up under my chin, I detected that the cat had received multiple kisses on his head pretty recently. So yeah, H was clearly a big teddy bear.

When we all left an hour or two later, H took both my hands in his and squeezed. He smiled. The man was so tall. My head came only as high as his shoulders. He gazed down with sincere intensity. I took note of his eye color- light, blue-green… and noticed his long, dark lashes. I couldn’t help but appreciate those eyes. They were beautiful. And they conveyed clearly that he was interested. I dreaded the inevitable. I was going to hurt him.

The pestering intensified at school immediately. Vince was clearly astonished that I didn’t reciprocate an interest in dating H. I diplomatically explained that he wasn’t my type, and Vince diplomatically explained that I was being absurd. He joked that he hadn’t seen me so sociable and talkative in the whole first year of vet school as I was in one evening with H. And H liked me, definitely wanted to see me again. I said I thought we might be friends, but that was all, and Vince said “Ouch, Girl.” He thought I shouldn’t jump to conclusions. But I had, and I retreated into my reclusive shell.


I didn’t want to hurt you!

H turned up at several other vet student functions over the next couple of months. He followed Anne’s advice… the goatee was trimmed to one or two inches in length. Short dark hair appeared on his head. He still favored the black boots and black leather jacket, but the crystal pendant disappeared. We did have quite a few mutual interests. The topic of collecting minerals and fossils was always a sure thing. Then there were all the funny pet stories. And comical Vince exploits. I spent a modest amount of time getting to know H at these gatherings, but inevitably excused myself and made my way over to other groups. I sincerely liked this person, but I didn’t want to encourage romantic feelings from him. At each successive event, he became just a little less animated, and I felt increasingly uncomfortable and guilty when I saw fleeting, sad expressions on his face from across the room.

And so I slid into a routine of subtle evasion with H whenever he was at hand. The same routine applied to Vince when I was at school. I’m not a confrontational person, and one of my worst phobias is having to enlighten someone when I perceive it’s something they don’t want to hear. Yes, I’d told Vince that I didn’t want to date H, and that was difficult enough. Vince was nothing if not persistent, and he seemed to be genuinely dismayed with me, implicating that I was behaving irrationally, which was awkward and aggravating for me. And so far, I couldn’t bring myself to inform H directly. I wanted him to just… well, figure it out, I suppose. But at the end of the fall semester, despite my avoidance tactics, I received a bouquet of irises and daisies out of the blue, congratulating me on getting through finals. He didn’t sign it “with love” or anything like that, but when a guy sends flowers… I knew I had to come clean with him. Knowing Vince, and his stubborn insistence that H and I were perfect for each other, he hadn’t passed along the bad news to his neighbor. For all I knew, Vince was making excuses for me and telling creative lies to keep the poor man’s hopes up.


Pretty sweet, right? What was I thinking?

So I called him. It was one of the hardest things I ever did. “Thank you for the flowers. But I need to tell you something. I just want to be… that is, I think we’re better off… I’m afraid we’re better off as just… friends.” Oh, it was so clichéd.

H was silent for a moment, and then he said softly, “Right. I understand.”

I tried to move the conversation along. I’d received the fossil I’d bid for on e-bay to give to my dad for Christmas- It was a beautiful specimen- Exquisite detail- The fish scales and every bone in the fins were perfectly preserved- I wished I could have engraved a personal message on the back of the matrix for my dad- But I was leaving tomorrow.

I suppose I was babbling. H cleared his throat, and offered to engrave it for me. He’d built a modified tattoo-pen to clean matrix rock and expose more crystal on his mineral specimens, he said. This gadget could be used to engrave whatever message I wanted. He’d be more than happy to do that for me. I was reluctant to take him up on his kind offer after I’d just essentially kicked him to the curb. But he reminded me we were friends, and assured me it was no trouble. Sweet, dear man. Feeling like a user, I packed up the fossil and headed to his apartment.


Dad’s fossil fish. Engraved on the back side by He Who Was Kicked To The Curb.

Well, it was trouble. It was painstaking work. While H was working on the engraving, he acknowledged what a beautiful specimen it was, and asked me how much I’d spent on it. When I answered, he stopped engraving and stared at me. “Yeah. Wow. I should be in the fossil business.” He winked and went back to work. Later, he mentioned the annual rock and mineral show in Tuscon, Arizona. He’d be taking two weeks to purchase new material for his website business and if I was interested, he’d be happy to scout for fossils and I could get whatever I liked at wholesale prices. He could e-mail pics of whatever struck my fancy. I was immediately intrigued. I had never been to a big mineral show, and didn’t know if they’d have anything I’d be interested in, but he assured me that all the e-bay sellers would be there, buying new specimens by the hundreds. It appeared that H was going to be a really good friend!


This is Varys, our first Octopus. Yours truly is a big-time cephalopod aficionado. (Many years down the road, we actually raised 2 generations of her offspring.)

In some ways, the kick to the curb was probably healthy for our relationship. Once I’d finally confessed I had no romantic interest, the discomfort and guilt associated with seeing H seemed to melt away. As he worked on the engraving, his manner was easy and companionable. We chatted. He loved exotic beer and I loved fine wine. We touched on topics as diverse as the Christian faith and the mysteries of the deep sea. My long-time fascination for the so-called “soft intelligence” of octopus and squid. We found we could literally talk about anything. And I relaxed and fully enjoyed myself in his presence for the first time since the night of our introduction at the pool hall.

When I left his apartment, it seemed right to give him a hug. We wouldn’t see each other for over a month; I was traveling for Christmas vacation, and by the time I’d return to start the spring semester, H would have left for the mineral show in Arizona. I gave him my e-mail address and thanked him profusely. I recall that the embrace was surprisingly comforting and seemed familiar to me, almost as if we had been good friends for all our lives. I had a momentary premonition, just as quickly dismissed, that I might have been somehow too… hasty… in deciding H wasn’t right for me. And as I pulled away from the apartment complex, feeling oddly empty, I had the impression that I might even miss him over the course of the next several weeks.

E-mails kicked off as soon as I returned for classes. H was right on the mark. The selection of fossils at the Arizona show was fabulous, and I felt truly ridiculous when I realized that the e-bay sellers usually started their fossil auctions at outrageous prices, and all along, my exuberant bidding wars had resulted in simply exorbitant profits! We had quite an amusing dialogue about my naivety, and soon we were having lively discussions by telephone in addition to the multiple daily e-mails.

At the time, I was very interested in fossil crinoids, which I’ve always judged to have enormous aesthetic appeal. The crinoids were sessile marine animals, not unlike corals, and their fossilized remains often looked like long-stemmed flowers. I wanted H to concentrate on finding pretty crinoids for my collection, and gave him a limit of $350 to spend for me. I would select from among pictures he sent of potential pieces, and he would try to go back and purchase them for me.


The Bundenbach Crinoid. Specimens from this locality were mined from slate quarries and it is said that many of the slate roof tiles in picturesque villages in this region of Germany have fossils. Fossils on the roof! Jholland’s “dream roof” to be sure! What made this one special was the fact that the holdfast, or “root system” was intact. This is an extremely rare find, from a locality that is now closed to mining, making the specimen especially terrific!

He also sent pics of a number of other interesting fossils and minerals, many of which were outside both our price ranges, but great fun to oooh and aahh over together. Among the specimens that H photographed for me was a large, absolutely flawlessly preserved and completely intact crinoid specimen centered on a gleaming slate matrix from Bundenbach, Germany. Bundenbach specimens are highly collectible, but this one in particular- a complete, flawless crinoid- was perfectly spectacular.

H was well aware of the raptures that Bundenbach crinoid had engendered. At first he’d just sent the pic to share the oooh and aahh with me. He hadn’t attached a price tag, and I assumed it was well out of my range. However, after taking note of my delight in the piece, he went back and checked, and unbelievably, it was listed for $350. I could scarcely believe it! Anything from Bundenbach of this size and quality on e-bay would have started at over $1000! The trouble was, there were so many wonderful crinoids to choose from, and I could have six or ten smaller specimens for my $350 limit. After wrestling with myself and missing sleep, I finally came to a decision while daydreaming through the Infectious Diseases II lecture. I sped home at lunch and launched an impulsive e-mail… just go ahead and buy the Bundenbach. I knew in my heart that I’d regret it any other way. Off I went to afternoon classes, at peace with my decision.


A few of the Arizona crinoid specimens. The key to Jholland’s heart.

What a let-down, after such deliberations, to find out that H had returned to the Bundenbach booth that afternoon, only to find that the gorgeous crinoid was already sold. I was crestfallen. It had been there the night before… if only I’d made my decision before leaving for classes this morning! Ahh, well. I would learn from that mistake. I’d always remember “the one that got away”. So I selected quite a few smaller crinoid specimens and H managed to purchase most of them. As the reports came in… “It’s yours, babe”… I bounced back from my disappointment. I could barely wait to see my new fossils. And him! We’d become fast friends over the course of the Arizona show. And I’d missed him.

The afternoon of our reunion is somehow gilded in my memory. The time we had still brings a smile to my face. H greeted me with a long hug, and it seemed that we both just- inhaled- each other. He brought out my fossils and I was so completely jazzed I did an odd sort of backflip over the arm of his couch and fell laughing onto the cushions. This managed to crack him up, which pleased me greatly. Usually he’s the one who has me laughing! And I loved watching his overjoyed cats throw a homecoming party, meowing and weaving and stretching and purring… face rubbing and head butting and making biscuits all over him. That afternoon marked the shift in my feelings for him, from an admittedly enthusiastic friendship, into the first stirrings of romantic interest.

He kept it casual, but as my attraction grew, I had the sense that he was every bit as interested in me as he’d been from the start. The first time he invited me to dinner was in February. I was to bring nothing, just come prepared to enjoy a home-cooked meal and a surprise for dessert. I brought a nice a bottle of Pinot Grigio anyway, after wheedling from him what the dinner was going to be (his wonderful spicy shrimp scampi). He’d cleaned his apartment and taken care with his appearance. The cats were on their best behavior. Dinner was delightful. A man who enjoyed cooking? Yes, I was definitely seeing the light. He kept me laughing all evening, even moments after we shared our first kiss. The kiss was the most sensual I’d ever experienced, and in my befuddled aftermath, I whispered that I’d never kissed a man with a beard before. H didn’t miss a beat. With a heavy-lidded half-smile, he murmured, “Neither have I”.


Recreated Chocoloctopus. (His were FAR better. My fruit endeavors are always dodgy.)

The clincher for me, though, was the surprise dessert. Even now, I can’t help but grin at the very idea. My husband does have strokes of creative genius, and this one takes the prize. He melted dark chocolate. He brought out huge, sumptuous chilled strawberries. Dipped each piece of fruit in the chocolate and arranged them, top-down, on a chilled platter. And then… he drizzled artistic chocolate “tentacles” around each strawberry base to create his own exclusive culinary specialty… the one-of-a-kind… chocoloctopus! He’d remembered my quirky love of squid and octopi. And he’d combined it with dark chocolate and strawberries. Nothing could have charmed me more thoroughly. Really, what more could a woman possibly want in a man??


One year to the day after I’d kicked him to the curb, here we are engaged to be married the following weekend!

Mom loves to relate the progression of our relationship from the perspective of her end of the telephone line. Over the course of two semesters in my second year of vet school, my offerings went from “I finally met that guy, but he’s not my type at all” – to “I can tell he’s actually really a sweet person, and I hate to hurt his feelings” – to “We’re actually getting to be pretty good friends, so that’s working out” – to “Mom, I really like this guy” – to “Mom, I might be falling in love with him” – to “Mom, I think I want to marry him”.

From such a shaky start, my tumble from wary friend in mid-December, to smitten fiancé in late-May, went ridiculously quickly. H secretly kept his answering machine tape, having saved every single message I’d ever left for him. That tape is hilarious. To hear my professional, vet-student persona gradually transition into casual familiarity and affection, and finally disintegrate into goofy, smoochy luv-talk… when I found out he’d played the tape for his parents, it was my turn to have pink ear tips!


Our wedding day.

The following December, my third year of vet school, we were married at my hometown church. Vince was best man, of course, and he was absolutely as proud as a peacock. We must have heard “What did I tell you? What was that? That’s right. You owe me. You both owe me!” a hundred times. Our respective parents were also delighted with us. H’s mom loves to say that he finally followed her advice, to “Find someone as crazy about you as you are about her”… and she assured me many times that her son would follow his Daddy’s example and treat me “Like a queen.” (She was precisely right.)

Mom likes to boast that she and my stepdad “Prayed him in“- that is to say, they agreed in prayer many times that the Lord would bring a man into my life, a man who was loving, and kind, and intelligent, and humorous… a man who would tolerate my habit of bringing in stray animals, would share my interests, and would make a wonderful father. (Mom additionally admits that she also specified tall, dark and handsome for the Lord… and really, one can’t fault the Lord if H chose to shave his hair off and cultivate that wretchedly long goatee, can one?!)

Dad and stepmom also took to H, though they’re more eccentric. Dad couldn’t keep his name straight and asked after “Doug” several times even after having met my fiancé over the summer vacation! My darling handled it with his customary good humor and grace. “He’s a nuclear physicist, love,” he said. “His job isn’t to remember names.”


Young and in love. The send-off.

After our beautiful morning ceremony and lunch reception to follow in December, H and I took off for Tulsa, where we were to spend our wedding night, and fly out the following morning to the Oregon coast for our week-long, Christmas honeymoon. Difficult as it was, we had not anticipated our wedding vows. The atmosphere in the car was heavily charged, to say the least. Naturally, the afternoon that followed is idyllic in my memory. That evening, after we’d shared an elegant dinner in the privacy of our suite, he left me curled on the couch and began to rummage through his suitcase. “Are you ready to open my wedding gift to you?” he asked with an air of suppressed excitement.

With the stress of finishing another semester of vet school, rearranging my closets and moving his possessions to my place, and the whirlwind flurry of final preparations for our wedding, I hadn’t really given that prospect any thought. Whatever he had, he was already becoming giddy. Unable to stifle himself, he blurted, “This has been a long time coming!” I took a moment to study him. He was all but quivering, an amused smile playing about his lips, and appeared almost… exhilarated… with himself.

I made short work of his carefully wrapped package, and I have to say, I was entirely caught unawares. Nestled in the box, matrix lustrous in its slate-dark sheen, feathery arms arched in a feminine, timeless curve, was my magnificent Bundenbach crinoid. I was stunned. “Where… how did you… who did you… what in the world did you have to do to find this, H??!”


Shhh… don’t tell H, but I know he still hides stuff up there. *Confession of a Major Snoop*

He was beaming with pleasure. “Well,” he began slowly, as if he were about to launch into a convoluted tale of the search for the person who’d purchased it, all those months ago… “I reached up… felt around… and pulled it down from on top of the display case.” This took a while for me to compute. That meant… no, he was being coy.

“I mean it, H. Tell me how! How did you find this again?”

He grinned, and answered patiently. “It was no trouble, babe. I could remember exactly where I’d hidden it.” I stared at him. For a while I was speechless as I scrambled to remember the details.

“Are you telling me you just- pretended that- you mean you lied to me about this being sold, and you had it all along?!?”

He was shaking his head. “You’re half right. I have had it all along.”

I was amazed. I felt utterly thrilled, and bewildered. And I was beginning to take delight in his smug demeanor. His self-satisfaction was starting to tickle my sense of humor. But although our amusement in the situation was mutual… I was feeling flustered. “But you said you’d returned to the booth, and the fossil was sold,” I insisted.

H nodded. “Yes I did, and yes it was.”

Now I decided to just wait him out. We were smiling at each other, squaring off, each of us on the verge of laughter. I cocked my head and stared. He mimicked, tilting his head in the opposite direction. His eyes caressed me with love. Finally, he leaned forward and kissed my forehead. I snuggled into his arms as he spoke into my ear.


A lovely pastime. Couch snuggling.

“I knew your dilemma, that you fell in love with the Bundenbach, but you wanted to have more than one crinoid, love.” His deep voice, and the soft words spoken into my neck between little kisses, gave me shivers. “So I went first thing that morning. I just bought it. I wasn’t really thinking clearly. I was going to surprise you with it, I guess.” He nuzzled below my ear and then snorted with amusement. “Then you sent that email, telling me you wanted me to go ahead and spend the whole amount on it- but I wasn’t thinking clearly and I didn’t want to ruin the big surprise.” He sighed in pleasure as he remembered his devious undertaking. “So I went back that afternoon and, what do you know, it was gone. Then I could say I’d been there and it had been sold already… I was so excited that I…”

I interrupted him. “What do you mean, you weren’t thinking clearly?”

He pulled back and looked me in the eye. Considered his response.

“What about how I wasn’t your type? Last thing I knew, I’d sent you flowers- and they weren’t even roses- and you couldn’t run away fast enough! What would you have done, if the next thing I tried to give you was a $350 crinoid?” I blushed, knowing he was right.

“Like I said, I wasn’t thinking clearly,” he continued. “It wasn’t until I got home that I realized I’d better hide it immediately,” he chuckled.


The most special piece in my collection. My Bundenbach crinoid. Sigh.

I’d never suspected for a moment. It still awes me, when I think on it. He’d harbored the crinoid, and bided his time. He’d accepted my earlier rejection and without a qualm, agreed to be friends. All the while, never losing sight of his objective. Whenever I gaze upon my beautiful crinoid, I can’t help but shake my head in wonder- how in the world could I ever have believed this man to be anything less than my soul mate? I remember thinking, on that magical wedding night, as we laughed about our rocky road, and studied the fossil with his magnifying loop (no, he wouldn’t have left home without it)… that it would be impossible to love him any more than I did at that moment.

I was wrong. I love him more with every passing day. And I’m sure you already know the moral of the story.

* * *

So there you have it. As much time as I spend preoccupied with That Other Guy, in truth I have been blessed with an amazing mate. I wouldn’t trade my Hubby for anything or anyone. No matter how badly he behaves in certain dream settings!


  1. Servetus · December 23, 2014

    This is a RIDICULOUSLY romantic story. Honestly. Worthy of a novel.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jholland · December 23, 2014

    It is romantic, in the nerdiest way possible! LOL. He’s a keeper.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. SH · December 24, 2014

    You are a great storyteller! I’ve noticed before especially with some of your ahem dream sequences 🙂 but your real life romance is the best by far! I enjoyed it so much, thank you.


    • jholland · December 26, 2014

      Thank you! I know it’s a bit long-winded, but it’s a very sweet story. Years ago, when I wrote it for the Valentine’s Day “Isn’t It Romantic” contest, I shared it with Hubby, and that triggered a cute epilogue. Involving fruit and chocolate and a funny Valentine’s Day Fail from the Hubby.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. SH · December 26, 2014

    Well then 🙂 I’ll be waiting to hear the Epilogue too!


  5. sparkhouse1 · December 29, 2014

    I think you have a best seller there! Thank goodness for patient, persistent men. He’s a gem, you’re a lucky lady and he’s a lucky man to be so appreciated.


    • jholland · December 30, 2014

      Best seller! Lol. Thinking… I could probably write a memoir of my vet school days… features quite the cast of characters between the professors and the students, and a fair share of drama. He’d appreciate the mineral reference- he is a gem, to be sure. =)


  6. Pingback: Epilogue: Hubby’s Valentine’s Day Disaster | preoccupiedwitharmitage
  7. Esther · December 30, 2014

    Aw, so sweet!! I love this! Great story and lovely sentiments! And I know how you feel – I feel the same way about my hubby, wouldn’t trade him for the world either… and he’s tall, dark and handsome as well. 🙂


    • jholland · December 31, 2014

      Thank you, and welcome! It really is a blessing and a privilege to share one’s life with such a man. And rarely a dull moment! =)


  8. Pingback: Blog Introspection Challenge 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 | preoccupiedwitharmitage
  9. Pingback: Blog Introspection Challenge #12, Or How Blogging Made Me Sociable | preoccupiedwitharmitage

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