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Lois Alter Mark Headshot

When Lois Met Michael

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Flickr: goldentakin
Flickr: goldentakin

I don't know if college students still do this, but back in the day -- circa 1977 -- when we needed a ride home for the weekend, we'd check out the ride board in the student union to see who was driving back to the city. I know this sounds like something out of an Archie comic book -- "Hey, I'll meet you at the malt shop, Betty" -- but I didn't have a car at school so when I had to go home for my cousin's wedding during my sophomore year, it was the easiest way to get there.

When Friday came, my friend and I headed over to meet the guy who was driving. A couple of other guys were also coming and, although I honestly can't remember which friend I went with or who drove, I can vividly picture Michael walking toward the car. He had longish blonde hair and was wearing a green military-looking jacket. I had never seen him before but the thought flitted through my mind with absolute clarity: I'm going to marry him. It was so natural and matter-of-fact, though -- there were no fireworks or heart palpitations -- that I didn't even think twice about it.

We all introduced ourselves. Michael got in the front seat with the driver, and the rest of us settled into the back seat for the four-hour drive. A couple of hours into the trip, we were all sleeping when I felt something in my hair. I started swatting at my head and screaming like, well, a girl. We're lucky I didn't give the driver a heart attack.

Michael jumped out of his sleep, turned around and took care of it. (Little did he know, he would do this many more times in the future.) I thought it must be a horrifying bat or some kind of disgusting crawly varmint or a giant bee that was going to sting me.

It was a moth.

After some apologetic laughter (mine) and some tolerant smiling (his), we pretty much ignored each other for the rest of the trip. I didn't think about him again until we got back to school and discovered we were in the same literature class. He asked me if he could borrow the Monarch Notes (no comments, please!) I was holding for whatever book we were reading at the time and, when he returned them, he asked me to go to the pub with him. This happened a number of times because he kept borrowing my Monarch Notes and I kept turning down his invitations. I really thought he just felt obligated and was trying to be nice.

When I finally said "yes," the whole world changed. Michael became my best friend, my lover and, just as the deepest part of me always knew would happen, my husband.

Over the past 35 years, Michael has taken care of lots of things for me, including a rat our Newfoundland presented us with and a rattlesnake coiled in our backyard. He even called the landlord of our first apartment at midnight when I was convinced I saw a mouse scamper across the floor.

There's one creature, though, that's definitely off-limits, and Michael actually wrote a beautiful poem about it. In it, he talks about "Cupid disguised as a moth."

Thankfully, neither of us needed Monarch Notes to understand the meaning of that symbolism.