Things That Will Never Happen to You, From the NY Times 'Vows' Column


Things were going well for you, weren’t they? You were happy. You were just living your modest little pleasurable life, excited that you splurged on the good deli turkey this week and that the coffee from the place around the corner was not too bitter today. Sure, your partner was too busy at work to reply to your Tudors joke with anything like passionate mindfulness, but it can’t be a whirlwind of deep attraction and perfect harmony all the time. Uh, then you read the latest “Vows” in the New York Times and your face fell. Why? Why did you do that?

As you scanned the nearly untoppable fairytale story some 1,600 stinging cuts deep, you lifted a trembling hand to cover your crestfallen mouth because you knew in the deepest part of your core being that none of this could ever, would ever, happen to you. Pack it up. Your life is bullshit.

You will never do/experience the following things, no matter how much you are loved:

  • Attend the European School of Luxembourg in 1993
  • Be described as “timid and mystical, Ophelia-like in her black boots, but I knew her shyness concealed something quite formidable” by a 38-year-old Englishman.
  • Spend your childhood in Germany, the Netherlands and Britain
  • Speak four languages
  • Be “listening to Bjork before anyone else was”
  • Be described as someone who “always had guys running after her. She’s very social and attends every society event in New York,” by your sister.
  • Have a sister named Elisabeth van Lawick van Pabst-Koch
  • Get an email from the Englishman two decades later
  • While dividing your time between Paris and New York
  • You will not be “swirling” through the fashion world, or probably anything
  • This swirling you won’t be doing won’t be happening while your dreamy Brit is off “doing difficult work in Liberia, Bosnia and Herzegovina with the United Nations Refugee Agency.”
  • No one will say, “I will fly to you wherever you are” because, hey, maybe he likes you a lot and stuff but plane tickets are too much and he can’t get out of work?
  • You won’t agree to meet in Sarajevo just cuz.
  • And then head over to a bud’s b-day festivities in Puglia, Italy. (FYI: You don’t know where Puglia, Italy, is.)
  • The flight to Sarajevo you won’t be on will not be late, nor will the airport be empty, except for Him.
  • It won’t be love at first sight all over again.
  • Oh but this! This WILL happen to you: the thing where the guy feels the love all over again but he doesn’t tell you? Of course, he did not tell her. You’ll know what that is like.
  • You won’t make your way to Dubrovnik — dear old Dubrovnik — on just four hours’ rest, a mere pittance, and then rent a trullo.
  • What is a trullo?
  • A trullo is a stone hut, you gorgeous, impossible fool, you.
  • Your trullo will not sit amid olive groves and the foxes you glorious, magnificent bastard.
  • You won’t drink your goddamn wine under the goddamn stars for once and for all they will not stop you from that in the trullo.
  • But this part! THIS PART YOU KNOW: He still wasn’t ready to open up, so you went ahead and braced yourself. ‘If it turns out we’re meant only to be friends, that is fine, too,’ ” Ms. Koch said.
  • You won’t ask him if everything is O.K.
  • He won’t say he has something to tell you.
  • But you WILL think: Here we go, he has a wife or a girlfriend.
  • Wait. So. This wife/girlfriend thing is not something you’d ask before the deposit on the trullo is locked in contractual stone hut-ness? I just — I don’t know, my people ask these things up front. We are a nervous people, especially when we travel last minute.
  • You WILL think this: “I was expecting the worst.”
  • He won’t have a wife or a girlfriend, thank GOD.
  • Mysteriously back at Lake Como, you won’t be sort-of proposed to with the moon and the stars. And the dragonflies. And the animals.
  • Dragonflies.
  • Things might move fast but will they speed along absent of a single doubt, reservation, misgiving, fear, insecurity, spoken concern, question, or worry?
  • Will both your suitor and your father meet so he can ask your father if it’s OK to ask for you hand, and when that happens will they both conveniently be holding holding heart-shaped balloons? Hmmmm.
  • Will one be deflated? Perhaps.
  • But would everyone ignore that because the symbolism doesn’t fit the story? Absolutely.
  • FYI: The various jobs held by people in this story include artist, retired steel industry exec, milliner and former senior judge on Georgia’s Court of Appeals.
  • Fine. This is cool: The vows included Smiths lyrics.
  • But not this: The word “starling” holds multiple meanings for the couple, who believe they are creatures from the stars.
  • Yes, if you must know, the tents they slept in on their wedding night were lined with Indian saris in a bamboo grove on property belonging to the bride’s family.
  • Yes, of course, they all slummed it at Waffle House the next morning.
  • Yes, the British guy’s mother was not a fan but found the service “friendly.”
  • But if you had any doubt as to their utter perfect happiness in the midst of so much elegant quirk, let me crush that for you:

And as for the honeymoon?

Ms. Koch told any and all: “Our lives will be our honeymoon.”


P.S. The cake was cut with a saber.

A Romance With a Long Interruption [NYT]

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