“I think it’s colder here than Manhattan, like, because it’s closer to the ocean. Right? And the ocean makes it windier. I think.”
It was early January 2012 and my friend Dominic was living in law school housing in Brooklyn Heights. He told me his weather theory as we wandered from the 6 train to his apartment.
I grunted some kind of affirmation because my face was frozen by the wind. It was so cold I could only assume it had been summoned by some ice troll living under the Brooklyn Bridge.
Dominic had invited me to hang out with his law school friends while they played Goldeneye on N64 until we all worked up the courage to go outside and walk to the bar three blocks away.
He and his roommate kept referencing Captain America, which was their nickname for their friend Marron. I thought Marron was already some kind of nickname, but learned this was his actual, given name.
“Why do you call him Captain America?” I asked.
“He kind of looks like the guy who played Captain America."
“Chris Evans? Why not call him Chris?”
“Captain America’s funnier,” the roommate added.
“So he’s not, like, a really big fan of superheroes? Or a republican or something?”
Dominic and his roommate laughed. “He might be a republican."
Apparently, Marron was as arrogant as he was wealthy. With a name that screamed “my family owns several yachts,” I could only imagine what kind of money he was descended from. Marron, I was told, was also kind of a know-it-all.
A few minutes later, “Captain America” arrived at the apartment and I learned two things immediately:
1) He was wearing boat shoes in January.
2) He looked like a human Ken doll.
He was also pompous and seemed to start complaining about something before he got through the doorway.
After Dominic’s law school buddies had collected, pre-gamed, and murdered each other in Goldeneye a few times, we bundled up for our journey to the bar.
Along the way, Captain America went on about argyle sweaters; he then explained that he was wearing a Fair Isle sweater—I own hundreds of articles of clothing. I can tell you the difference between tartan and plaid (it’s the colors), discern houndstooth from herringbone, and I am the first to praise argyle everything, but—I had never heard of Fair Isle.
This guy, however, was an expert.
I believe someone commented on the atrocity he was wearing, which prompted his explanation of the pattern. Somehow, this turned into me arguing that it was definitely not an argyle sweater (a fact he did not dispute) and how argyle sweaters are much better than Fair Isle sweaters, which remind me of clothes that people wear in catalogs when they are standing next to horses.
Captain America never disagreed with me. Prompted only by my friend’s opinion of him, his ugly sweater, and the fact that he was wearing boat shoes, I made it my mission to argue with him. So I continued discussing the shortcomings of his non-argyle sweater in an effort to out-annoy him. Our argu-greement took up a substantial part of my evening, but I was fueled by fiery bourbon keeping me warm from the chill outside.
Later, Dominic told me that his friends actually thought I was funny. They appreciated my haranguing Marron because none of them ever would. Assuming I would never see him again, it made no difference to me what impression I left. Sure, he looked a little like a Disney prince, but what was I going to do with a cartoon?
I never expected to see Marron again. I wasn’t expecting some rom com plot where we find out that we were destined to be together. I was out with a friend who happened to be out with some of his new friends and I was the tag along.
But Marron walked back into my life one morning.
Two years later, Dominic helped me get a job as a paralegal at a law firm. I had been a nanny—the kind of job with a built-in expiration date—and transitioning into the world of office work had been challenging. I worked at the front desk as a phone answerer/legal assistant/pseudo first-year attorney/office manager. Dominic was back in school by then and no longer working at the office.
On a Tuesday in January of 2014, a blonde man in a suit walked in to interview for an internship.
“Hi I’m Marron,” he said. “I have an interview with Tim.”
I wondered if there could be two people on this planet with that name.
“Hi,” I said, “You can have a seat. I’ll let Tim know you’re here.”
The walk from the front desk to the back office—Tim’s office—was about eight seconds, but those eight seconds were some of the most vexed seconds of my life.
That can’t be the same guy. Why isn’t Dominic here? He would know. That CAN’T be him. Do I say something? Does he even remember me? Why would he remember me? I remember him. But I'm creepy like that.
I got to Tim’s office and tried to stretch time—I had to solve the mystery before I got back to the front desk.
“Hey Tim,” I said.
“Oh is the interview here?”
Damn it. Why was he aware of his appointments?
“Uh. Yeah. Marron is here.”
“OK. Let him know I’ll be out in a minute. You can have him sit in the conference room.”
I made the eight second walk last about eleven and put Marron in the conference room.
“Do you want any water?” I asked.
He was wearing dress shoes and a suit that looked more expensive than anything either of my bosses wore.
I lingered for a moment, not sure if I was trying to recall his face or if I was trying to send him some kind of signal: Hey, remember that time I yelled at you about some sweater you were wearing?
Tim came out to interview Marron and I got back to work, which meant trying to see if we had his resume saved somewhere or a note on the office calendar. I got his last name from the calendar appointment and emailed Dominic to confirm my suspicion.
I was right. It was the same guy. Although, really, as soon as he introduced himself, I knew: Fair Isle sweater.
That law firm had a staff of less than ten people. Four law students interviewed for an internship that spring. And Captain America was one of them.
In the week of waiting for my employers to make a decision on interns, I began to wonder what I would do if he got hired. Would I admit that we’d met? Maybe he already knew. Maybe he wouldn’t accept the position. But what if we had started working together? What if this was some punishment I had to endure for mocking a near total stranger?
Of course, some tiny part of me loved the absurdity of it all. It felt like it had to mean something.
But he didn’t get hired.
He didn’t ever return.
I wanted this coincidence to matter, but that was all it was: a coincidence. He was not, in fact, my prince. All the elements of a Hollywood love story were in place and then real life happened.
Sometimes, there is no greater meaning. Sometimes, we wonder for eight seconds and move on.