October 17, 2012

“You’re a bit of a loner, aren’t you?” Avram asked me.

I didn’t know his name yet. It was a rainy Saturday afternoon in August. My mother and I were in New Hampshire for the weekend, staying at a place that describes itself as an “intergenerational camp and conference center.” I describe it as hippy camp. I like it there because there are rows of old couches to snuggle into, and I’d gone along with the intention of spending the weekend just reading and avoiding social interaction. So far I’d been successful.

I looked up from my book. “Sort of, I guess.”

Avram sat down. “Well, let me tell you how I met my wife.”

“It was the 40s, and I was living in New York City. One day, my uncle called me up. ‘Avram,’ he said, ‘my daughter’s friend is moving to the city and she doesn’t know anyone. Will you take her out to dinner? Her name is Deborah.’ So I said ok, sure, and when Deborah got to New York we went out a few times. Oh we got along fine, she was a nice girl, but it wasn’t romantic, you know. I didn’t think much about it.

“One weekend, my best friend Stretch and I decided to get away. We were going to Maine, to a place he knew about — you know, just the country and relaxing, that sort of thing. We’re in the kitchen on Friday afternoon packing for the trip, and the phone rings. It’s Deborah. She says, what are you doing this weekend, and when I told her, she asked to come along. Stretch was in the kitchen with me, you know, so I put my hand over the phone and I say, what do you think about Deborah coming? He was shaking his head, no, no no. So I get back on the phone and I tell her, sorry, there’s no room in the car. So we go.

“We get there, and we’re walking around the place, you know, and who do we see? It’s Deborah. She came on her own! Hitched a ride with someone else. So, I think, well this is awkward, but right away I look at Stretch and back at Deborah and I can see they’re falling in love. And they were, see. They fell in love, and when we got back to the city — we gave her a ride, you know — they dated and they got married just a few months later. And they’re still married.

“So we were all still friends, you know, and I wasn’t seeing anyone, and it turns out Deborah had a twin sister. So she thinks, wouldn’t it be great if Avram got together with my sister, and she introduces us, and we went on a few dates. And I liked her better than Deborah, we got along well. So a little while later we got married — that was my first wife.

“We were married for nine years. Had two kids! But then, you know, things weren’t going well and we decided to get divorced. And that was fine. I was still friends with Deborah and Stretch, and I was dating someone else then, a nice girl. But Deborah had this idea in her head — she kept telling me, Avram, you have to meet our neighbor Sophie. And I said Deborah, I have a girlfriend, you know. But one day I went over there to help out with moving something, some household job, you know, and Sophie was there. And we talked a little bit, she was very nice. But I had a girlfriend, you know. And that was fine.

“I broke up with that girlfriend after a little while, I can’t remember exactly. But two years later, Deborah says, Avram, we’re all going down to this cafe, you should come. So I say ok, you know, and I go down there. And it turns out Sophie is there again. Deborah sort of nudges us together and we talk, and it turns out Sophie is so smart! She’s a professor, you know, and she’s just brilliant, and we get along really well. And you know what? Do you know what I’m going to say? That’s my wife. That’s my wife, Sophie. We’ve been married for 46 years.

“We’ve traveled all over the place. Isn’t that a good story? If you’re a writer you can write it up for me. Sometimes I just pick somebody not in my family and just tell them my story, you know. So I picked you. You never know how things will go, you just never know.”

My mom had joined us then — she’d been listening quietly for the last minute or two. I introduced them. “Avram just told me the story of how he met his wife!” I said, and he smiled. “Sometimes I just pick someone to tell,” he said to my mom. “Your daughter was reading and I thought she might like it.” He turned back to me. “Did you like it?”

I told him that I loved the story. It was six o’clock, and the three of us walked together to dinner.

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