Columns

2010.02.10 The story was never written

on . Posted in By The Way

By DAVID GREEN

There’s a feature story missing from this week’s Observer. It just never got written. It was my wife’s idea. I think she saw a story in a magazine where people told how they met their spouse and she knew it would be good for the paper on the week of Valentine’s Day.

Good in theory, at least, but would it really work?

First of all, in small towns like Morenci and Fayette, about 95 percent of the people met their mate in elementary school. We all went to school together. Everybody knows everybody.

I would think about asking someone and then I would remember that they dated in high school. There’s no interesting story there.

I thought in that case maybe it could be altered to ask: When did you first become aware of your mate as a future mate? That didn’t seem so great and it was never asked.

At the office Kim and I repeatedly forgot to ask people. Once they concluded their business and were walking away, I would remember what we forgot.

Someone came in the office Friday to renew his subscription and I asked the question. I was very pleased with myself. Finally, this story was going somewhere

So I explained what were doing—stories about how people met their mate—and his response was: “I can tell you how I got rid of my mate.”

That soured things a little, but I didn’t give up. I tried again with another visitor.

Q: “How did you meet your mate?”

A: “We grew up together.”

That wasn’t much of a story, and besides, I kept wondering if that meant he married his sister.

So there’s the small town thing where most everyone married someone they went to school with, but that was only part of the problem.

I stood in the gymnasium last week across from the Morenci fans looking around the crowd at the basketball game. I actually had a pencil and a pad of paper in my hand, ready to go to work. Maybe “ready” isn’t quite the right word. I was willing to go to work.

I don’t really like to go around asking questions like this. We’ve had a lot of this sort of story in the Observer over the years—good ones that people have enjoyed reading—but often it wasn’t me doing the asking. Someone else collected the information and I did the assembling.

But I was there with writing gear looking through the crowd. I spotted a couple and knew they went to school together here. And another and another. They probably knew each other since kindergarten.

And then came the changes in marital status. A remarriage here, another over there. There were situations in which I didn’t dare ask. I didn’t want to know the details of how they got together and I wasn’t about to inquire.

I was with a group of friends Saturday night and sized up the crowd with regard to the Big Question. There was only one couple among the six that grew up in the same town. One couple probably wouldn’t want their how-we-met story as part of a newspaper story.

I couldn’t remember the origins of the other three. They possibly had interesting stories, but the details were lost to me.

At that point there were three possible couples for one of those large Observer features, and a long, long way to go. I knew I couldn’t spend Sunday calling around town embarrassing myself by asking the wrong people, so the question wouldn’t be asked. Besides, at that gathering Saturday we were too busy talking about death. That must be what happens when people in their 50s and 60s get together for fun.

I have about 600 characters remaining to tell you the only story I know.

College, Saginaw, Maine and Oregon were over and, strangely, I was back in Morenci living at home. My parents were going to the MSU homecoming football game and I went along for the ride. It would be a good chance to visit with my little brother, Tommy.

Tom and I cut through the library en route to an Ultimate Frisbee game and Tom encountered a young woman he knew from housing co-op where he lived.

Where did I meet my wife? Near the circulation desk of the Michigan State University library. The rest, as they say, is history.

 

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