He told me his name was John. Except it wasn’t.

I was  a shy and quiet junior at a boarding school in Pennsylvania when I met him. The goalie of the varsity hockey team, he acted the way everyone expected a member of the hockey team to act. A nice person would call him “confident.” I thought he was arrogant, as he stood in front of me in line at lunch in early September. He turned his head and smiled. There’s a language of smiles, and his said,  I think you’re cute.

I ignored him.

“What’s your name?” he asked.
“Melissa. What’s yours?” I asked, though I already knew. Dan. Everyone knew.
“John.”
I was already irritated with him and all he had said was his not-name.

Boarding schools in movies look as if there’s always something happening. Young men in coat and tie, reading Whitman and Thoreau by a bonfire. Girls sneaking out of their dorms to meet up with the bad boys from the neighboring town. Boys from Providence, Rhode Island, falling in love with beautiful blonds from Greenwich, Connecticut. The truth is more prosaic. Sometimes we do discover the meaning of life eating ramen after study hall, but for the most part, the usual weekend is boring. The school provides dinner and entertainment in the form of an orchestra concert. You know, activities that prevent teenagers from doing what they would rather do, which is to create the kind of havoc they see in movies.

Perhaps it was my boredom coupled with my decision to give him a second chance that led to our going to one of these concerts together. Before going, I went upstairs to my room and changed my pants. I came back down a few minutes later where he waited for me in the common room. He smiled at me and blatantly tilted his head to stare at my behind. I said nothing and kept walking. I tried to ignore the stereotype of the varsity goalie. He seemed intent on trying to fulfill it.

It would be another three months before I would see him again. Hockey practices were intense and occupied most of his time. When I finally bumped into him in the hall, he still carried the same smile, but instead of thinking it was arrogant, it eventually became nice and familiar.  We became friends. A few more months. One spring break. One night, he told me that his girlfriend had broken up with him; he had pretended his cell phone was broken over break. I laughed and told him that lying about his phone was a jerk move. He didn’t care. We laughed more, talked longer, and flirted a little. I forget what we were talking about that night, but I remember his looking at me, his smile saying, I always get what I want.

It’s been seven years. I got what I wanted, too.

Their wedding is set for March 2013.

 

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