My psychic said to avoid beans: A love story
The story of how I met my husband has been told so many times it’s getting to be dull-dull-and-duller to tell for the hundredth time to everyone who’s already heard it. But from a writer’s standpoint, it’s pure gold. You cannot make this stuff up. I’ll give you the short version:
1.) My friend and I ate at a café.
2.) My husband was our waiter.
3.) My friend didn’t like beans in her chili soup.
4.) Would he pick some out?
5.) Yes, he would.
6.) Behold, beanless chili.
(For the record, I like vegetarian chili that’s 85% beans.)
That was it. That’s how we met. He was burned in my brain after that, a legend in food industry customer service.
But this is when the story gets all boring, run-of-the-mill on you. Because we didn’t spot each other again until a year after the beanless chili incident. And it was at a bar (ugh). And after we rehashed the beanless chili incident, I didn’t want to stop talking to him. And after ten minutes we were practically finishing each other’s sentences. And I was ready to ask for his phone number before he beat me to it. And that is so out of character for me, I swear. The whole harvesting phone numbers thing, I mean. Ick. Pathetic.
So wrapping-up quickly, because by now you’re half asleep, we instantly fell madly in love, blah, blah, blah, got married ten months later and lived happily ever after and so on and so forth.
But let’s go back a little before that. Back about two years. Somewhere around 1999. I’ll set the stage. Ricky Martin was about to take over pop music. Pokémon was about to take over the world. Y2K was about to end the world. And I was just out of college and feeling a bit “What does it all mean?!”
And by “it” I mean Pokémon.
Wait, I changed my mind. Let’s go back even further. About twenty-some years from the beanless chili encounter. Back when I first noticed boys.
That was about the time I entered preschool. I had just turned four. And I was apparently already “on the make.” Andy was my age and carpooled with me to school. And while sitting in a circle for a jolly sing-along, I planted a big kiss on him in front of the class. On the mouth. (It might be relevant to remind you my parents let me watch Dallas.)
The teacher honest-to-goodness physically picked me up and removed me from the circle. Chair and all. I’m telling you, public shaming works.
I never thought there was anything all that pervy about the whole sucking-face-in-preschool bit. But now that I have a four-year-old kid in preschool, I have perspective. At her school, I hear of kids pushing raisins up their noses, swallowing coins, hitting each other with shovels. Daily. I have yet to hear of any make out sessions. It would be scandalous.
I was a despicable four-year-old deviant.
By my formative years, I was a closeted boy-crazy hypocrite. I hated, hated, hated the boy-crazy ones. Drove me up the wall with the eyelash fluttering and bubbly, purple-inked I heart that guy scribbled notebooks. I never wanted to be that girl. While I spent 1989 secretly lusting over Joe McIntyre (see Kid on far right), around my friends I was leading a vicious smear campaign against New Kids on the Block. It was an easy case to make (see rest of Kids at left).
Still, I always wanted a boyfriend. It wasn’t about the schmoopy love stuff. I just liked the idea of exchanging freakishly cuddly stuffed animals on Valentine’s Day. And then I wanted someone to have loud dramatic fights with next to our lockers before class. At which point, we could pummel each other with freakishly cuddly stuffed animals.
But I also bought into the whole “The One” stuff. Yep, ate it all up like a big ol’ bowl of melty Danielle Steel brand ice cream. I recall it tasted like sugared lard.
I was convinced I’d meet The One guy when I went off to college. That’s the way it’s supposed to work. He lives three floors up in your residence hall. He borrows your illegible notes from Biology class. He barfs up gyros on your foot at a toga party. These are all the standard textbook things that may lead you to The One.
Out of college, togas no longer acceptable partywear (though barf still was), reality set in that I was on my own against the Universe.
But then Franca stepped in. Actually, I stepped into her pawn shop. She was an older woman with a German accent who owned a pawn shop and did psychic readings on the side. That is the God’s honest truth. And I know you’re thinking “This set-up sounds way too perfect — she must be making it up.”
Franca told me you’d think that.
I was lost at that time and thought I needed a psychic friend. It had worked out so well for Dionne Warwick. So I made an appointment and went in with
a desperate an open mind.
One of the first things she asked me was, “Who is Mark?” She said she “saw” a dark-haired man named “Mark.” No clue. Hmmmm. I racked my brain and only came up with my roommate’s sleazy manager at a steakhouse. Franca finished, saying “Mark” would someday be very special to me.
What I didn’t see was, at the precise moment she said that, a dark-haired “Mark” was waving at her from the back of a truck, on his rounds to pick up her trash. But that doesn’t affect this story.
Franca also threw out some completely vague things like – “diabetes might affect your family,” “you will feel let down yet relieved after the holidays,” “do not attend timeshare presentations” and “beware of Ryan Seacrest and his rise to power.” You know, stuff that could really apply to anyone.
So there I am, two years post-Franca, her psychic reading long since out of my immediate memory, no more freakishly cuddly stuffed animals, no more New Kids on the Block (not even NKOTB), no more preschool make out sessions . . er . . sing-alongs, and standing in a bar next to a dark-haired waiter named “Mark.” Who was funny. And kind. And oh so smart in an I-won’t-be-a-waiter-forever sort of way. And not at all hitting-on-me-ish. And not the type to buy me freakishly cuddly stuffed animals (because they’re all just “freakish” when purchased for adults). But definitely the type to pick things out of my food in order to make me happy.
And that was exactly 10 years ago today.
Franca always warned, “Avoid beans.”
No, really. They give you gas.