My wife was made for the pioneer days. She would be perfectly content living on the edge of white America (which also explains how she fits in so well in Oregon). Surrounded by the wild, unpredictable western weather patterns and the mountains and bears and mountain lions and bison, my wife would feel right at home. She would sew all our clothes, wash our laundry down by the creek, skin and cook elk. In some ways I’m sad I can’t give her the life she was meant to lead.
Many people have asked me how I got my trophy wife. It’s an understandable question. A woman of her caliber deserves to be with a titan of industry, a man who dabbles in classic car collecting and extreme yachting before realizing his life lacks something important. Sometimes that man doesn’t get the girl. Sometimes, like in a Woody Allen movie, the nerd gets the girl.
But it wasn’t always this way with us. Long ago, in a small Colorado mountain town, I almost missed catching this prize woman.
My wife, who in this story goes by the name Isis, worked in the local chain bookstore. She was putting herself through college. A professional bookslinger by day, a visionary architect student by night, Isis seemed to have the perfect start to the rest of her life. She even had the perfect boyfriend, Trent Highbrow.
Trent Highbrow, heir to the Highbrow copper dynasty, drove a cherry red Mazda Miata. He tipped poorly and was astonished when he saw a Mexican doing something besides cooking his dinner. His wavy blond hair was always perfectly coiffed, his suits always freshly pressed.
Yet all was not well at Highbrow manor. The family’s coffers were at low-tide and dropping thanks to bad investments. Trent did his best to hide his family’s lowering endowment, but the frayed edges were beginning to show. This all did nothing to change Trent’s prejudices against the middle class, a class from which he incidentally hoped to rescue Isis.
Enter the wandering Jew. Isis didn’t think much of me at first. She eyed me with suspicion, wondering how I was able to find employment at all, let alone at the country’s most prestigious minimum wage employer.
I witnessed Trent pick Isis up after a long day of selling Dan Brown’s latest bestseller. His Miata screeched to a halt at the front of the bookstore. Isis, who had been waiting patiently for only half an hour, jumped inside and they drove away. I could hear them laughing together as though the rest of us regular folks didn’t exist. They were in love with each other and in love with the money they thought would be theirs very soon. How wrong that assumption would prove to be.
I knew Isis wasn’t meant for Trent. She needed a dose of nervousness and guilt, and in me she would find both. My suspicions were confirmed one day when our lunch breaks happened to fall on the same half-hour.
I asked her about love.
“Love?” she said with a deadened look in her eyes. “Love is a festering open wound that runs and runs.”
Trent didn’t stand a chance.
Things came to a head one day when Trent came in to the store. I knew something was amiss. A man of his wealth should never have to enter a bookstore: what possible use could a book be when you’re already rich? His stooped posture and wrinkled jacket gave away the rest. Trent had discovered his family’s secret; they were about to declare bankruptcy. His older brother had already fled the country in their last Lear jet and his mother was obsessively scrubbing a shirt she claimed was stained with blood. Trent was coming to collect his last remaining possession: Isis.
Trent grabbed Isis by the elbow and began leading her out of the bookstore. I, like the rest of my colleagues, watched the ensuing chaos with a mixture of horror and secret delight that we were on the clock and therefore being paid to watch this happen.
Isis turned to Trent. Her rage would have burned through an ordinary man, but Trent’s brain was a concoction of styrofoam and plastic; he couldn’t understand her deep emotion. She yelled that she was not going anywhere with him anymore. He stuttered something to the effect of, “b-b-but you’re my girlfriend!” She pulled herself out of his grip.
Trent looked around and realized that, though his money was gone, and his girlfriend was leaving, he could still salvage his pride. So he hit her. Isis, never one to back away from a fight, lashed out with the strength of a thousand comets. When the fight was over, Trent pulled himself up, tears falling from his eyes, and staggered out of the store. He was not seen in that part of Colorado again.
Later, on our fifteen-minute break, Isis took me aside. She confided that she didn’t want wealth or even a man with good looks. She wanted me.
There have been many more stories since then. I couldn’t ask for a better partner, without whom those stories would not be possible.