How I Met My Wife

Jack Winter, the New Yorker, July 25, 1994.

It had been a rough day, so when I walked into the party I was very chalant, despite my efforts to appear grun­tled and consolate.

I was furling my wieldy um­brella for the coat check when I saw her stand­ing alone in a corner. She was a de­script person, a woman in a state of total array. Her hair was kempt, her cloth­ing shevelled, and she moved in a gainly way.

I wanted des­per­ately to meet her, but I knew I’d have to make bones about it, since I was trav­el­ling cognito. Be­knownst to me, the hostess, whom I could see both hide and hair of, was very proper, so it would be skin off my nose if any­thing bad happened. And even though I had only swerv­ing loyalty to her, my manners couldn’t be peccable. Only toward and heard-of be­hav­ior would do.

Fortunately, the em­bar­rass­ment that my mac­u­late ap­pear­ance might cause was evitable. There were two ways about it, but the chances that someone as flap­pable as I would be ept enough to become persona grata or a sung hero were slim. I was, after all, some­thing to sneeze at, someone you could easily hold a candle to, someone who usually aroused bridled passion.

So I decided not to risk it. But then, all at once, for some ap­par­ent reason, she looked in my di­rec­tion and smiled in a way that I could make head or tails of.

I was plussed. It was con­cert­ing to see that she was communicado, and it nerved me that she was in­ter­ested in a pareil like me, sight seen. Normally, I had a domitable spirit, but, being corrigible, I felt capacitated—as if this were some­thing I was great shakes at—and forgot that I had suc­ceeded in sit­u­a­tions like this only a told number of times. So, after a ter­minable delay, I acted with mit­i­gated gall and made my way through the ruly crowd with strong givings.

Nevertheless, since this was all new hat to me and I had not time to prepare a promptu speech, I was petuous. Wanting to make only called-for remarks, I started talking about the hors d’oeuvres, trying to abuse her of the notion that I was sipid, and perhaps even bunk a few myths about myselfs.

She re­sponded well, and I was mayed that she con­sid­ered me a savoury char­ac­ter who was up to some good. She told me who she was. “What a perfect nomer,” I said, advertently. The con­ver­sa­tion became more and more choate, and we spoke at length to much avail. But I was defatigable, so I had to leave at a godly hour. I asked if she wanted to come with me. To my delight, she was committal. We left the party to­gether and have been to­gether ever since. I have given her my love, and she has re­quited it.