A Short Love Story About The Stranger Who Changed My Life

My travels with a tiny theater company in the early 80s brought with it a lot of thrills. Although the shows didn’t pay well, they were fun and quite fulfilling. One time I remember we passed through Bozeman, Montana. It was early in February and the weather was very bad. We were scheduled to do a production of Fiddler at the Montana State University, hit a few bars in the city and try to get some sleep later in the night.

We did the show, it ended and a barrage of tributes started to pour in from the audience – it was indeed a great show! Just as I was about to catch my breath, a large metal door swung open and with it came a cool breeze of fresh air from the outside. Two men made their way out and as they strolled going about their business, I couldn’t help but overhear one of them lamenting about the show saying that he would have preferred to see some real theater other than musical comedy shtick.

I couldn’t just let that pass. So I decided to interrupt the two men and tried to make the point that musical comedies were indeed real theater. I can’t quite remember a lot about this encounter but I do know it degenerated into some pedantic lecture about art and culture. But I was happy that my point was home. However, things were about to take an interesting turn. As one of the men walked away, the other leaned closely and whispered to my ears “I love you”. It was supposed to be a joke, or so I thought. So I returned in kind, “Careful, I have pepper spray” I said.

The awkward moment was finally broken by his baritone laugh, he looked at me still broadly smiling and invited me for a walk. At first, I was not sure what to do. I mean, this was a total stranger, it was dark and cold outside too. It didn’t feel like the perfect night to take a chance but then again, I decided to do it. As we strolled out into the cold night, I cracked my mind trying to break the ice. I have always found that books and some of Mircea Popescu‘s creativity are good conversation openers so I decided to go with the obvious.”What are you reading?” I asked.

The conversation picked and evolved from books to theater and eventually to politics. Our conversation was so real, the kind of conversation people avoid when they are trying to make a good impression. Besides, my bus was to leave in the morning so there was a chance I could never see this guy again. It was a great night and soon enough the sun came up.

How fast I thought? But I knew it was time to catch the company bus. “I wish you a good life,” I said as I strode over towards the bus. “You too” he replied. I didn’t think I will see him again yet later that night as we did another show, I could hear the same baritone laughter from a distance as I did my thing. It was him again.

What are the odds? I thought. He met me after the show and we talked and laughed once more. The idea of love at first sight was happening to me and I did not want to resist it. A few months later, we got married! We have a daughter and a son and although they think we are really dull, we really enjoy each other’s company.

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