Have you ever stopped and wondered why? Why is it that men call out to women they have never met before on the streets of the city? I always wondered. Surely, it never worked. But if it never worked, are all of these men insane? Just hoping that one day they will do the same thing and something will change? Is it just fun for them? Or maybe, just maybe, have they seen it work before?
These questions have baffled me for as long as I could remember. I was more curious about these questions than 8 year old me was curious if Santa Claus was real. When it came time for my senior thesis I knew I would have to research these questions. Which in turn raised another question, how could I turn my actual curiosity into a scholarly research paper? With divorce rates so high I decided to try and run a study that would measure how likely a marriage was to survive if they met their partner or ex-partner “in a brief encounter.” I left it vague because I didn’t think that more than a handful of people, if any, would participate had I asked if they met their partner or ex-partner “on the street.”
I posted ads for the study everywhere with the promise of a $5 amazon gift card. But being a college student with very few connections to married or formerly married people no one showed up. I figured $5 was not enough to entice people, real people with lives to live, to participate in my study. As I was packing my bags a woman in her mid-thirties walked in the classroom door, asking if this was the study for married people who met briefly. One person was not enough to run a study but it felt rude to shoo her away.
She explained that she had some time before her class and she figured she could talk. I guess I gave her a weird look when she said her next class, she was clearly past the age of most of my peers. She laughed and told me that she was getting her MBA at night, she had graduated college much before I knew where I would be attending. It was intimate getting to talk to her just the two of us.
What she told me became everything I now want. I never got to run my study, instead I got a vision for the future I want. I went to ask her my study questions but it just felt off, so I asked, “Why did you come? I mean you are the only person who came.” She giggled, “The amazon gift card, isn’t it obvious?” But it was far from obvious, her clothes were designer and she clearly did not need a $5 amazon gift card. “No really.” She fought to contain her smile but she couldn’t, “The truth is I love my husband so much that I welcome the opportunity to gloat about how in love we are. And this seemed like a perfect opportunity to do just that.”
They have been married for nearly nine years, and have a toddler - a son. She showed me pictures of her son and I could not believe how cute he was. A perfect mix of her husband and herself. Her son was conceived on a trip to Hawaii that she will never forget. They live in a big house just outside the city. Her husband buys her flowers as soon as her current bouquet dies. She even claims that they never argue and never have.
I asked her, having completely forgotten the point of the study having became memorized by this woman, “What is your secret?” Thinking of the few boyfriends that I have had and how I did not have a relationship with any of them the way this woman had with her husband. “I think I just got lucky. The perfect man found me.” That made no sense to me, I envied her in that moment for having gotten so lucky, “Where was this perfect man hiding, maybe I can find one just like him.” I said with a tone that came off more serious than I would have liked. “Hunny, the best ones hide in plain sight.” I didn’t understand why she couldn’t give me a straight answer and brazenly I asked, “But where in particular did you find this one?” She looked at the floor than back at me, “The sidewalk, he hollered at me God only knows what possessed me but thank God I did, I gave him my number. And the rest they say is history.”