I was only a couple of weeks from graduating from college with a degree in computer science. Due to clever timing, my commencement coincided with the absolute depth of the dot bomb. I had no job offer and no prospects, so I was spending a lot of time partying to relieve the anxiety of my impending homelessness. It was the most liberating experience of my life. I expected that I’d be relocating anywhere a job was offered, so there was no pretense of starting new relationships. I expected anyone I met would be out of my life for good within the month. I could be the Real Me, which is a spectacular way to avoid making friends of any kind. I was executing this strategy to perfection the night I met Her.
For various and sundry reasons, I was hanging out with a lot of expatriates, mainly because, having grown up abroad myself, I could more readily identify with them and partly because they also partied like rock stars on indigent budgets. I was that night at a party hosted by a very large group of Mexican engineers. There were very, very few girls, which was just fine for me given my recently adopted single serving friend strategy and the fact that I had just spent five years at an engineering school with a 5:1 gender ratio. The Mexicans were fascinated by the spectacle of a gringo doing shots of tequila with anyone who would ask, so they kept asking. I was playing the drinking version of the movie Yes Man.
Late into the party, I was introduced to a gorgeous Polish woman whom I immediately started teasing about her ancestry. It was the first round of the 2002 World Cup, and the United States and Poland were paired in the same group. The next day the two teams would be playing each other. It was a meaningless match as the United States was already through to the next round and the Poles had been eliminated, so it gave me a great chance to gloat incoherently about a game that had yet to be played. Despite this, the very pretty lady invited me to another party that she was going to with some friends. My strategy of “no new attachments” dictated that I politely decline and stick with what was working for me.
Fast forward to two weeks later: I’ve graduated from college, have no job at all, and Poland has soundly defeated the United States 3-1 in the match. I’m back at the same party, having had even more to drink than at the previous one, and I run into the same Polish beauty, whose name had escaped my mind, leaving not even a trace of its ever having been there. She immediately gives me what I richly deserve regarding the Polish domination of my team. I was enthralled with this attractive woman who can put me in my place, so I spent the evening drunkenly saying words to her that occasionally managed to organize themselves into intelligible thoughts. At the end of the evening as she was leaving, I got her phone number, attempted to kiss her, and received a face full of cheek for my effort. I called her the next day and attempted to have a conversation with her over the sound of the nuclear weapons testing going on inside my head and a spotty memory of the preceding night.
I am very grateful to this day that I met her at a time in her life when she was bored and looking for a project and that she has such lousy taste in men.
They have been been married since 2003, have two children, and still look forward to the World Cup.