Happy Serbian Orthodox New Years and How We Met
So how did you and your husband meet?
It’s a question couples are always asked. Since yesterday was the ten-year (!) anniversary of the day I met the man who would become my husband, I thought I’d tell the story.
January 13, Serbian Orthodox New Year’s Eve
On a random weekday evening, my Russian grad school roommate, Olga*, came into my room inviting me to go to a bar in Los Angeles … “To celebrate the Serbian New Year, of course. There will be dancing,” she coaxed.
I’d grown accustomed to Olga’s crazy suggestions, which also included body-surfing in the Pacific Ocean. Even though we lived in Southern California, the Pacific is crazy cold year-round. However, Olga liked to go in December. Without wet-suits. In the early morning, before it got too “hot.” A PhD candidate in genetic biology, Olga always had strongly expressed ideas about preserving what our mothers gave us. Swimming in the ice-cold ocean? Great for reducing cellulite and improving circulation.
Soooo … A random club with a bunch of people I don’t know, on a Monday night. Seriously. Who says “no” to that? Olga insisted upon choosing my attire. That’s a new one, but then again, Olga had always been a little unpredictable. She dressed me in a conservative long-sleeved black shirt (at least it was all lace, not too boring) and a floor-length, but fitted, dark blue velvet skirt. Oh, and high heels, a must.
When I balked at the covered-up qualities of this outfit and reminded her that we were going to a night club, she merely shook her head and said, “It is good.”
It wasn’t until we were in the car with Olga and her Serbian boyfriend, Ivan, that I understood why she’d been so picky. Olga and Ivan bickered in Serbian (Olga was half-Serbian on her father’s side, and had taught herself the language while a freshman at Serbian university, hello? Brilliant!) Meanwhile, I waited for someone to acknowledge my presence. Olga was always very aware of including me in the conversation, so she turned to me and apologized.
“Lora,” she said, with her Russian accent trilling the r, “I wanted you to meet an old friend of Ivan’s, but Ivan is mad at me because he thinks I am setting you up. Misha and Ivan practiced aikido together in Belgrade when they were in high school. He is an excellent skier and is good-looking. Do not worry, he is tall, well-built, and has very broad shoulders.”
Olga, in spite of her perfect English grammar, generally avoided contractions (as in no: I’m, he’s etc.). Her Russian-style candor always came through, as well. Height, for both of us, was a must in a boyfriends, since we neared 6 feet … before high heels. From her tone, it was clear the broad shoulders were a major “selling point.” I was up for anything, so I asked, “Ivan, why are you mad then?”
“I just didn’t want you to be surprised or upset,” he said.
“I really have complete trust in Olga. Besides, what’s the worst that could happen? Tonight’s going to be fun, don’t worry about me.”
So, it turned out that the evening was a set-up, but Misha was very cute, very tall and seemed equally interested in me. Yes, and he has very broad shoulders. … The rest, they say, is history.
* names changed