Love at Second, or Third Sight (September 21, 2010)

enemies

I am definitely a believer in instant connections, and no I am not talking about those made through the relative safety of computer terminals. I am referring to the phenomenon eloquently described in the novel, The Godfather, as “the thunderbolt.” You lock eyes with an attractive person across the room and blammo! Something indescribable happens. An electric charge passes between the two of you and all of the sudden; you are flooded with want, need, desire. Even more empowering – you feel that same energy returned to you. It’s exciting and not a moment we are rewarded with often enough in life. Most acquaintances we make are rather uninspiring. Can I get an “amen?”

I have seen the thunderbolt effect in play throughout a lifetime of observing others. While it makes one feel invincible, it can also lead those who have never experienced it before to do things that are a bit heedless. Think Howard Marshall II, the Texas billionaire who married former Playmate and Guess? Jeans model Anna Nicole Smith at the ripe old age of 88. Though both parties are now long since deceased, the battle for the Marshall fortune continues to play itself out in the courts due to this ill-advised union – that could only ever have been based on one-sided lust (Marshall) and concerted gold digging (Smith). It can be especially damaging when the thunderbolt doesn’t strike both ways, so to speak.

So yes, love at first sight exists and I respect the awesomeness of its power when it happens. However, my own personal life hasn’t featured this occurrence. When it comes to potential love matches, even platonic friendships, my affection is of the slower growing kind. And by that I mean I often loathe, detest and completely forsake those that ultimately turn out to be my greatest soul mates. In some cases this aversion has been known to stubbornly persist for years, until a breakthrough of some kind exposes the true likeness of my character with another’s.

Let’s start with my husband Eddie. I met Eddie in the early summer of 2005, when we both worked at the same downtown Chicago office. I was a part-time administrative assistant for one of the company’s Executive Vice-Presidents, while Eddie worked as an IT Consultant. Though others in the secretary pool continually remarked that the good looks and sexy smile of my future husband reminded them of “an Indian Cary Grant,” I was decidedly unimpressed. In fact when Eddie labored under the impression that his charm could get him anything he wanted at the company, I rather delighted in shutting him down wheresoever I could. I distinctly remember remarking a time or two, “that young fool needs to get over himself.” At the time I was a very “mature” 28 to Eddie’s 25.

We have been married for almost three years now, so evidently, I changed my mind along the way. But it took a year before I was able to step back from my initial judgment. I realized that Eddie could, and often did laugh at himself. I noticed he was witty, good at pool and oh yeah; he was pretty handsome after all. It must be noted that Eddie was equally disenchanted with yours truly. He often referred to me amongst his colleagues as that nasty word for females that rhymes with “witch,” a woman on a conference room space power trip.

Of course we can both look back and laugh about this now, but it is not the only instance of a great relationship that began with a mutual slowness to warm up. Case in point: Jessica, my dear friend who lives with her husband Nick in jolly old England. If you are a fan of the hit Fox television show, Glee, Jessica was once the Quinn to my Rachel.

At the age of 16, Jessica and I were both members of the Chicago Children’s Choir, a prestigious organization that has performed all over the U.S. and the rest of the globe. When Jessica returned to the group during our junior year of high school, after a leave of absence, I was happily ensconced as the “flavor of the month,” within the choir. I had a ton of friends, a cute and popular boyfriend – all the privileges I didn’t enjoy inside the halls of my own high school. As for the singing, that came second to my social life as far as I was concerned. I was just happy to belong somewhere, and in the summer of 1996, I was terribly grateful for the opportunity to spend five weeks touring South Africa with the group.

Until Jessica made the touring assembly as well. Not only was my current boyfriend her previous one (leading to gossip within the ranks that I was happy to pick up Jessica’s “sloppy seconds”), but even worse! She was slowly making inroads with my thriving group of young gay admirers. This impudence could not be tolerated.

[Insert montage of cat fights from Bring it On, The Craft and Mean Girls here].

Oddly enough it only took a bout of motion sickness (mine) at a South African ostrich farm, and a silently proffered glass of 7 Up (hers), to bridge our differences. Since those formative teenage years, Jessica and I have traveled together, peed in public places together and done more body shots than we can feasibly count.

So do I make an impossibly awful first impression? Am I a judger who finds it hard to let down her guard and reconsider her first reaction? Maybe, and maybe. But what’s so great about love at first sight anyway? Some of the most treasured relationships I enjoy today started off with a healthy dose of conflict.

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