When cleaning out the garage recently, I came across three books which are precious to me because they were special gifts. The Lewis Carroll was inscribed to Paul from Tom, one of his best college friends. The friendship book, given to me by my best friend from 8th grade, also had a very sweet inscription. The final book, Backgammon for Blood, though, fits Sian's call this month for Storytelling Sunday to tell a story about "something given in love." After reading my story, do pop over there to read some of the other stories.I first met my husband, Paul, in high school. We both competed in speech and debate tournaments for our respective schools. I don't think we ever actually spoke to each other, but I did have several friends who went to his school, so he was on the periphery of my debate world. I remember times when we were at parties together or our teams had dinner together at a restaurant. At 6'7" (two meters), he definitely stood out from the crowd!
When I went to college, Paul and I again found ourselves in concentric friendship orbits. One of my good friends, Steve, had a very good friend named Tom; Paul was one of Tom's best friends. So, even though I didn't know Paul well or Tom at all, Steve often regaled me with tales of adventures that the three of them had together. The three of them, along with their friend Chuck, also played a very competitive, testosterone fueled, cut-throat brand of backgammon. Their bible was a book by Bruce Becker called "Backgammon for Blood."
I was intrigued when, in my last year of college, Paul and I moved into the same rooming house. I noticed him right away . . . he was definitely tall, dark and handsome. I remember asking him to help me hang a map in my room, since he could reach all the way to the ceiling! During the first part of that year, I was involved in the last stages/death throes of a serious relationship followed by a series of short-term, very fun, non committal relationships. Many nights when I would come home from dates, Paul would be sitting in the dining room studying, and we would talk for a while. My roommate Lynn and I would sometimes bring huge baggies full of pennies to the ice cream parlor where Paul worked and buy huge sundaes, paying for them with hundreds of small copper coins. He'd just shake his head, make us our sundaes and tell his co-worker to count the pennies. Before long, we began eating meals and studying together. He even taught me how to play backgammon. We had the luxury of becoming friends long before we had to worry about navigating anything romantic.
By the time spring rolled around, I had a major crush on him. By then, I realized he was smart, kind and funny, as well as tall, dark and handsome. But I had no idea how he felt about me.
Until my birthday in early March. He gave me a backgammon set and his copy of Backgammon for Blood. In that moment, I realized he was serious about me, even if he hadn't yet expressed himself in a more conventionally romantic way. We made that leap a few short weeks later. . . . and the rest is history!