"You know," he said, turning to me, "I can recite the first eighteen lines of 'The Prologue' to The Canterbury Tales in Middle English."
“You know,” he said, turning to me, “I can recite the first eighteen lines of ‘The Prologue’ to The Canterbury Tales in Middle English.”
I shifted in my seat and cleared my throat. “Um, oh. Wow.” I mean, what does one say to something like that?
“Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote...”
And then he proceeded to recite the first eighteen lines from ‘The Prologue’ to The Canterbury Tales. In Middle English. As he spoke, I stared back at him incredulously. I stared at his enormous head and ruddy complexion. I stared at his long, straight, caramel-colored hair pulled neatly into a ponytail, the thin flyaways tucked behind his ears. I stared at the wild, unkempt beard on his face and the faint wisp of a moustache adorning his upper lip. I stared at his bushy eyebrows and his light green eyes, which were so genuinely sincere that I felt guilty. I stared at his clothing; he was wearing a maroon turtleneck underneath a thick black sweater with faded, baggy, blue jeans and big, brown boots. He looked like a tall Amish man who was about to go on a hike. I stifled a giggle. Was this how he picked up women? Really?
My mind began to wander. He was clearly not my type. That became apparent as soon as we sat down at the café and he told me he majored in physics at Princeton. I was an English major (though certainly not at Princeton), hence the Chaucer. This was obviously not going to work out. I just needed to make up some excuse and get the hell out of there.
He finished his monologue and smiled, revealing large, crooked teeth. He was obviously proud of his accomplishment. “So, what do you think?”
“So, what do you think?” I ask, looking up from the paper. I am nervous about how the story is progressing. It has become a habit of mine to read aloud my writing to him after dinner to receive his feedback and editing prowess. After five years of marriage, I continue to hold his opinion in the highest regard.
He is sitting next to me on the couch, working out his latest ideas in theoretical cosmology. He pauses, processing what I have just read. As he thinks, I observe him lovingly. I observe his enormous head and ruddy complexion. I observe his short, straight, caramel-colored hair cut neatly at the nape of his neck, the thin flyaways tucked behind his ears. I observe the well-trimmed beard on his handsome face and the full moustache adorning his upper lip. I observe his bushy eyebrows and his light green eyes, which are so supportive and kind that I feel lucky. I observe his orange polo shirt underneath a black “Princeton Physics” sweatshirt with sleek khakis and those same big, brown boots. He carefully leans forward to shift the sleeping baby on his chest. Our beautiful, sleeping baby.
And my mind wanders. I could never have foreseen that I would be married to this man. Or could I? Perhaps I realized that he was my type after all; perhaps I had always known that he was my type, but I was too scared to admit it.
“You know,” he says, finally turning to me, “I can still recite the first eighteen lines of ‘The Prologue’ to The Canterbury Tales in Middle English. That is, if you’d care to hear it.”
This time, I smile at him and he smiles back, revealing large, crooked teeth. “I would like that very much,” I say.