“Harris, Donegal, and Yorkshire are all representative types of what?” asked our Trivial Pursuits opponent with all the sobriety of a game show host. The question hung in the air. She and her partner didn’t exchange a look. They only stared at my husband and me sitting across the table from them, the gauntlet game board thrown down between us. They had mastered the art of the poker face and had experienced many more rounds of this who-is-the-smartest-in-the-room-game than we.
“Honey?” I raised my eyebrows, hopeful.
He sipped his Diet Coke, wiped his mouth and said, “Tweed.”
I’m not sure whose jaw dropped open the fastest, mine or our opponents. I was like, did he just say the word “tweed?” Tweed as in fabric?
“How the hell did you know that?”
Not exactly a fashion plate, I must admit my husband does have nice taste in clothes—clothes that suit him. This includes a closet full of workout attire, about thirty-five pairs of blue jeans, fifty pairs of shoes and more pullover jackets than a parade of Olympic athletes.
“I worked in a men’s clothing store,” he said matter-of-fact-like.
Oh yes! I’d forgotten about that little stint on his resume; however, within seconds, the twisted plies of our thirty-year relationship unfolded, and I remembered that the first time I ever laid eyes on the man who would become the love of my life was in that men’s clothing store.
It was 1979 and I was visiting the home of my college roommate in Evanston, Illinois. Her name was Joyce and she was an absolute spark plug. She insisted on driving me all over town, stopping at all her teenage hangouts, just hoping to run into old friends to whom she could introduce me. One of the stops was a men’s clothing store named Selig’s. It was quiet inside with no obvious customers, and Joyce’s energy filled the place with an incongruent blast. Within moments she spotted her childhood friend across the store and shouted out his name.
The look on his face didn’t hide his embarrassment. He may have even ducked behind a circular hanging rack of tweed jackets. But there was no avoiding us.
“I want you to meet my ROOM-MATE!” she gushed and pushed me forward. I’d already been presented to a variety of friends and family that day so I was familiar with the routine. I knew this was just another important person on her list. I also knew that she’d already set him up with another college friend named Kathy, so it wasn’t at all about a fix-up for me.
I didn’t even consider him as a boyfriend candidate until I saw his face. And I distinctly recall my very first thought the first time I laid eyes upon Mike Cozzens. It was that he was far too cute to be interested in me.
He reluctantly approached us and pushed a thick strand of long blond hair away from his face, revealing a pair of dreamy blue eyes. Wow. What gorgeous blue eyes. I didn’t mean to stare, but he didn’t notice. He didn’t even look me in the face. And I’m almost certain he didn’t shake my hand. (We hadn’t yet learned how to properly introduce or be introduced.) All I knew is that he wanted us to leave. “I’m working,” he said.
So Joyce and I hurried out the door and went to a friend’s apartment across the street, which was clearly the local degenerate hangout.
It was many years before the blond-haired, blue-eyed haberdasher would look me in the face long enough to fall in love with me. But, thank God, he did. Meanwhile, I tell this story whenever I’m asked how my husband and I first met. In the nearly twenty years we’ve been married, I’ve sometimes wondered if this could be labeled a “love at first sight” situation. Unfortunately, he doesn’t remember meeting me in the clothing store. He claims the first time he met me was in a dorm room in Southern Illinois, and he thought I was “stuck up.”
And what was it that he first noticed about me? “Your big boobs,” he said just as matter-of-fact-like as he answered the question about Harris, Donegal and Yorkshire tweed.
What a guy.