In 1975 I was in Norm White’s class Motivation & Emotion II. In the small group meeting, we debated the then hot topic of whether one saw the bear, were frightened, and then ran, or whether one saw the bear, ran and then were frightened. I noticed a tall thin man with wide “Isro” hair and a beard. He looked not unlike a large deciduous tree. We were arguing on the same side, and he gave me a beautiful smile, his almond eyes crinkling whenever we made good points.
After class, we introduced ourselves “Dave.” He said. “Perle,” I replied. After that, we went for burgers at the Student Union. “Sometimes, I am just into grease,” I told him.
We were approached on our way out by the Lubavitch missionaries. “Are you Jewish?” a young man asked Dave. “Did you put on Tefillin today?”
“No, and I don’t need to.” Said Dave, and we walked away. Surprisingly the young man followed us.
“What do you mean?” He asked, indignant. Dave began to sputter and tried to explain why he did not participate in Jewish daily prayer rituals from a sociological and psychological point of view. I started quoting scripture to support Dave’s argument. Our eyes met over the head of this earnest and frustrated youngster.
This was the beginning of our romance. It was very hot and heavy, but Dave was so easy to love. My parents and all my friends really liked him too. He slipped seamlessly into our little gang. We would stay up until the small hours of the morning discussing truth, beauty and psychology. Sometimes we would order midnight pizzas from Pines or Peach Melba from Milton Sweets. Even Norm White commented on our relationship, as we continued to argue on the same side of issues.
Since Dave was a visiting student, he returned to Philadelphia to do his senior year at Haverford College. I personally kept Bell Telephone in business that year with my many long-distance calls to Philly. For Canadian Thanksgiving, I visited him down in Philadelphia. There we had a massive fight about life and values, boundaries, and who we wanted to be. Ten days later, when he came up for his fall reading week, I was worried that he was there to break up with me. That evening, snuggling on his bed in the basement of my parent’s house, he took me in his arms and said: “Let’s stop kidding ourselves…” Oh no, here it comes, I thought, he’s breaking up with me. “We are going to end up married.” I was so relieved that time and distance and asserting my needs had not broken up this relationship that I agreed in an offhand way to what seemed to be a statement of principle, “Yes, I guess we will.”
Two days later, we were walking across the reservoir on our way to a lecture given by Brenda Milner at the Neuro. Dave was smiling to himself as he kept pace with me. He has always matched his stride to mine, despite our thirteen-inch difference in height; ever since the time I told him that I hated trotting to keep up with him as he loped along.
“What are you thinking?” I asked him.
“I think that you have every quality that I ever wanted in a wife.” He squeezed my hand.
“Oh, is that a proposal?” I asked.
“Where were you the other day when I proposed?” he shot back. Then, realizing that his previous statement had not been theoretical, we became equally engaged. We continued on to the Hughling Jackson auditorium, past the statue of Nature Revealing Herself before Science and the Neurons on the ceiling. Finally, we climbed the vertiginously raked stairs of the hall where our friends had saved us seats. Brenda Milner gave a brilliant lecture on the hippocampus, but I am afraid that I do not remember it much. What I do remember is how happy I was.
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