When I first became acquainted with him, it was all at a distance. He was a leading man on the campus theatre scene, the kind of guy who could show up at an audition and be guaranteed not just a part, but a big part. Part of that was because he was male (any theatre artist will tell you there are far more women in theatre), but he was GOOD. He was tall, handsome, and GOOD.
But all of these things served to turn me off. A guy like that attracts girls like flies, and I didn’t want anything to do with that. The more roles he played and the bigger deal he became, the more the girls clustered. When he went to lunch, three to five girls went with him. When he hung out in the coffee shop, his entourage was all female. I thought that surely he had male friends, but he didn’t seem to do anything on campus with them—not sports, not dinner, not coffee.
I started calling him, privately, The Sheik. Surrounded by his own little harem, he had the look of a sheik of the desert. So help me, I wasn’t going to add myself to that admiring gaggle of girls. Since we ran in the theatre circles together, he was impossible to avoid, and since I wasn’t in the harem, the girls who WERE felt safe confiding in me just how smitten they were and that they felt he was a perfect fit for them. I was collecting a string lovelorn sagas, all with him at the center.
Then it came time for me direct a play. The Sheik showed up, and it was obvious that unless I were a complete nincompoop, I would be casting him in a major role. Rehearsal started, and due to a large solo number, he and I spent a few rehearsals together. People wandered in and out of the theatre while I walked him through his choreography, lyrics, and character. I discovered that he wasn’t arrogant about his talents, and could truly be depended on. Once when I mentioned getting him to dinner on time to eat with “all the girls,” he told me in an off-hand manner that he wished he had a t-shirt that said, “If I want to date you, I’ll ask.” Then he added, “I just try to care for everyone as people.”
I kept an eye on him to see if that rang true, and over three years of theatre and classes, it did. He didn’t lead any of his girl-friends on; no special time or favors—just good conversation and friendship in the group. And then I found myself to be part of the group. By the time we left school, I had discovered that the leading man was nothing like my original estimation of him. So when he got around to finally asking one of the girls to date him—I said yes.
And then I married him.