Beanie level: Eunuch in drag

Love Stories Countdown to Valentine’s Day #14:
Through the fiery furnace

There is a famous New York City pastor called Tim Keller. He’s a brilliant theologian, pastor, and apologist for the Christian faith.

During one of his Oxford visits I spoke with his wife, Kathy Keller. Now, while I adore Tim Keller, my respect for him skyrocketed after listening to a recording of them doing a marriage seminar. Kathy Keller did NOT sound like a simpering, sweet, demure, submissive, agreeable pastor’s wife. Oh no. She was a fiery, independent, smart-as-a-whip woman with a tongue that was as sharp as a double edged sword. Oh snap! What can I say? Strong women appreciate other strong women.

When I met Kathy Keller in real life she did not disappoint. She was exactly how I imagined she would be. Quite the firecracker. To be honest, she had all her defense mechanisms up while talking to me. I don’t blame her. When your husband becomes a celebrity minister in the evangelical world, you become the target of many unkind, undeserved, and frankly, uneducated censures when your husband doesn’t preach what people presume he should.

Anyway, as I was talking to Kathy Keller she remarked “I feel I have to protect Tim because he’s so soft-hearted.” We were standing close to Tim Keller as he was engaged in a conversation with another Oxford student. Kathy turned and gave him an affectionate pat on the back.

In that moment, as she was facing her husband, all the defense mechanisms fell. I saw her love for him that was so unguarded, genuine and true that if I had to describe it it looked like a string of gold that had been heated until it glowed. It looked so vulnerable exposed like that, I felt I could have reached out to break it; but it was so holy and pure that I almost shrank back from its sacredness. It was obviously the kind of love that had gone through the fiery furnace of affliction again and again and again, and came out stronger and more beautiful each time.

I stood transfixed in awe and whispered to myself, “One day when I meet my husband, this is the sort of love I want.”

I wish you also this kind of sacred love that can withstand all the trials of life. Happy Valentine’s Day!!

Love, February

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Love Stories Countdown to Valentine’s Day #13:
Too bad I’ll never see him again

This is another love story of a couple from my parents’ church in Orange County. Barbara is from California, Chris is from New Jersey. But, during the spring semester of 1982, Chris visited Barbara’s roommate, Linda, whom he served with on a mission field with InterVarsity in the Philippines. Barbara wasn’t actually keen on his visit since it was in the middle of exams.

But, when he arrived, even though she was already in bed, she got up and put on her green bathrobe (apparently Chris still calls it her UGLY green bathrobe) and went down to welcome him (good old-fashioned manners, ya know?). Soon Barbara was glued to her seat on the floor, finding him fascinating to listen to. Over his visit she started to go out of her way to spend time with him. She was more herself with him than she had been with any other guy she knew. When he left her wrote “Too bad I’ll never see him again, who knows what could have happened?”

BUT….apparently what DID happen is that Barbara’s dad gave her as a graduation gift an airplane ticket to New York! She stayed with a friend in Brooklyn, but Chris came to pick her up from the airport, and showed her around the Jersey Shore. They had a whirlwind of fun that included holding hands and taking the romantic carriage ride in Central Park (*snort* such a touristy thing to do, Barbara and Chris!).

When Barbara got home she wrote him a thank you letter, on notebook papers….and added “I think I fell a little in love with you in our time together.” He wrote back. Then, they started to call each other regularly…on the landline! They were young and poor so their phone bills were expensive, and another airplane trip was out of the question. They became long-distance boyfriend and girlfriend in August 1982, but only saw each other again in December 1982.

Their first kiss was in the LAX Terminal when Chris got off the plane to visit Barbara for Christmas!! They dated long distance until 1986, and Barbara said it wasn’t always easy. Chris finally got a job transfer to California, they got engaged in Honolulu, and then were married in October 1986!

And the rest is history!

Love, February

Love Stories Countdown to Valentine’s Day #12:
We’ve got a problem.

This is the love story of one of my favorite couples from my parent’s church back in Orange County, Robert and Jill. They also have this GREAT Christmas tradition of making tamales which are SO GOOD! I snagged quite a few in the previous years before coronavirus.

They grew up in Orange County, and had the same friends in high school, but didn’t know one another. Then, during college they became friends. The summer after college they were both in that dreaded holding position before jobs or grad school. They ended up hanging out a lot, so much so that Jill’s mom said “Are you guys going out?” And Jill, exasperated said “No, MOM! We’re just friends.”

Then apparently at a party Jill flirted hard with Robert to the point where I guess he didn’t want to be in the friend zone anymore. The following conversation ensued:

Robert: We have a problem?
Jill (worried): What problem!?
Robert: I think I’m in love with you.
Jill: Oh, well, I think I like you, too.
Robert: Oh, thank heavens!!!

And that was that! They have been married for 28 years, have two children and a dog named Enzo. Jill says that some days she still has no idea who Robert is. HAHAHA! The great adventure of marriage and getting to know someone down to the very depths – a wonderful lifetime pursuit!!

Love,
February

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Love Stories Countdown to Valentine’s Day #11:
God, I am NOT okay with You answering this prayer!

Their names have been changed to protect their privacy.

This is the love story of my two dear friends in Oxford. It’s quite cute because we, as Aaron’s church community, got to see it unfold before our very eyes! Aaron is a PhD student at Pembroke. When he arrived, he quickly (as in within 3 weeks) became part of our little circle of postgraduate friends who would hang out together. But, little did we know…..

Back in South Africa there was a lovely lady who was missing him quite a lot. Roberta and Aaron went to the same church back in Cape Town, but they never met until Aaron joined Roberta’s small group. I think there was a bit of instant attraction because Roberta wanted to take up running, and Aaron is a natural runner. He offered to accompany her on runs. Roberta was pretty smitten with Aaron, and I’m fairly sure Aaron was smitten with Roberta, but both of them individually heard “Wait” from God, so they said nothing to each other.

During a weekend away for their church’s small group community they prayed over Aaron as he was about to leave for Oxford. They specifically prayed that Aaron would find a loving and warm church community in Oxford. Roberta was experiences ALL THE FEELS, knowing he was leaving, fearing that he might meet his future wife in Oxford. She had written a letter (of encouragement) for him……….6 pages long. HAHA! When he dropped her off at home, she ran in to grab the letter but asked him not to read it until he left.

Fast forward to Aaron in Dubai’s airport on the layover to England, he opened Roberta’s letter. He thought it was a confession, but it wasn’t. In fact, I think he was really impressed that 6 pages were filled with nothing but encouragements for him (with no any strings attached). Aaron says that in the airport was the first time he asked God to give him Roberta specifically.

Back in Oxford all of us (Aaron’s church community) are happily bobbing, but unbeknownst to us, Aaron is messaging his church family back in Cape Town saying how their prayers for him have been answered as he’s forming a really good group of friends. This sends Roberta into a tailspin. “GOD, I AM *NOT* OKAY WITH YOU ANSWERING THIS PRAYER!” She was seriously fretting that Aaron would meet his wife within the next week.

Roberta goes crying to her flatmate who sensibly says “Do you think that holding in your feelings for Aaron is an attempt to control the situation rather than surrender it to God? Maybe you should tell him……”

Fast forward to Roberta half-confessing, half-crying to Aaron on the phone, and Aaron giggling (he wasn’t trying to be mean) because basically he was going to confess to Roberta that he liked her a week later…she just beat him to the punch. This was in November 2017. In March(?) or maybe it was May, Aaron messages me and says “Hey, fancy a walk?” I said “Sure”, but I must have also been messaging another friend at that time because a second later I said to this friend “My friend just asked me out on a walk. I think he’s going to tell me that he’s going to propose to Roberta.”

I guessed right. By May they were engaged, by September they were married. And we all got to meet Roberta in October (or maybe it as November)! It was really lovely to meet the woman who captured our Aaron’s heart. And she fit right into the group, like a glove!

So, we are doubly blessed to have her with us these 2+ years… and here’s to many more!!!

Love, February

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Love Stories Countdown to Valentine’s Day #10:
Ummm…don’t you WANT my number??

This is the meet-cute of my best friend, Michelle and her husband, Brian. N.B. I knew he was a keeper when she actually LET me meet him.

Picture the scene: Seattle, on a Saturday evening at a bar.

Brian was at the bar trying to get the bartender’s attention with no luck. Michelle comes sauntering by to place her own order when she notices Brian flailing a bit.

Michelle: Do you need any help getting the bartender?
Brian: No, I’ve got this.

5 minutes later….Michelle: Hey (to the bartender), you have customer (gesturing at Brian) here.

Then, Brian orders exactly what Michelle ordered, Hefeweisen, even though he hates it. They get to chatting. The friends Brian was with left the bar at midnight, and he just casually lets them go (even though they are his ride home). HAHA! Brian looks all sweet and innocent, but there’s definitely some cunning in that scientist brain of his!

Once Michelle realizes that Brian is strained she offers him a ride (probably just like he wanted her to, sneaky dude). She drops him off at home. I’m editorializing here, but I maintain he was in this combination of tipsy AND nervous being around Michelle – so he just got out of the car. Luckily, Michelle is a go-getter (like the awesome auditor she was):

Michelle: Aren’t you going to ask for my phone number??

And the rest, my friends, is history! I was a bridesmaid at her wedding. And just to prove to you what good friends we are, and how pushy former auditors can be, when Michelle said “I’m getting married!!”, my first response was “Congratulations! So, I’m going to be a bridesmaid, right??”

Michelle: Well, I wasn’t really planning on having any bridesmaid.
Me: No, you have to have bridesmaids. [Turns out Brian wanted 4 groomsmen, so Michelle had to wrestle up 4 bridesmaids]. And how’s this for audacious:

Me: Great, so I’m going to be your maid of honor, right???
Michelle: Ummm….well, I was going to have my high school best friend be the maid of honor.
Me: Yeah, but I’m super organized, I make decisions (like a good auditor should), and I would make a good speech.
Michelle: You have some good points.
Me: I know, right??

I didn’t get to be maid of honor, but Michelle basically divided up the maid of honor duties amongst the four of us. I DID get to give the “maid of honor” speech…and almost cried really badly. But, whatever, everyone was crying with me…because we were so happy for Michelle and Brian. <3

Love, February

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Love Stories Countdown to Valentine’s Day #9:
Love in the Time of Corona

A few friends began relationships right around the time of the first lockdown last year. But, I’m quite pleased to report a special one which resulted in engagement in December, and planned for “elopement” in a little more than a month!
They have been given pseudonyms to protect their privacy.

Wynn and Janet met in a bakery. I think it was supposed to be a low pressure, breezy coffee date, but they couldn’t stop talking to one another, so they ended up going to dinner. Then they met for coffee two days after that. Two days after THAT they became official.

Then the lockdown happened. They’ve been together ever since. There were no dramatic ups and downs. As Janet put it, “We knew what we were looking for and found it in each other.”

She acts all composed, I DO remember her being VERY nervous meeting his closest friends for the first time during a games night (this was when restrictions had lifted briefly). I think she was fretting about what to bake them. HAHA! Classic Janet.

The sweetest part of their courtship was when Janet mentioned how anxious she was about the relationship. It just seemed too easy – it was just so easy to love Wynn and be loved by him, she thought it was a sign that they wouldn’t work out.

But, each time her anxiety got the better of her, and she said “we should break up”, Wynn would calmly counter with “No, we can work through this.” And that was that. They worked through it.

Janet showed me a picture of her engagement ring in December, and now she’s making her bridal bouquet out of pages from old books for her elopement in MARCH!!! EEEEEEEKKKKK! I’m so excited for them!!!

Love, February

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Love Stories Countdown to Valentine’s Day #8:
Defining the Relationship…..twice

I met Seth at church when he started graduate school at Berkeley. One of my first impressions of him was actually the love story he told about how he and his then-girlfriend (now wife) Alexa got together.

They met at Ohio State. Alexa was looking for a Christian fellowship group and Seth was the president of InterVarsity. They met for an impromptu worship session with his best friend, and then the three of them had a Bible study together the next year. The trio hung out together a lot discussing philosophy and other nerdy topic, alongside daily prayer walks around campus.

It soon became apparent to Seth that Alexa liked him. As an honorable Christian guy, he felt it was only appropriate to give the dreaded “DTR” (define the relationship….as in, NOT romantic). He was gentle and kind in his first DTR to Alexa. And while Alexa respected the boundary, her heart was still tied up with Seth. In April, after Seth had chipped his tooth, Alexa came by to cheer him up. Seth had again sensed that Alexa hadn’t really let him go, and felt a second DTR was necessary. He was not as gentle this second time around.

From Alexa’s point of view the second DTR was a lesson in letting go and trusting rather than trying to control everything. She wanted Seth to like her very badly but there was literally nothing she could “do” to make that happen.

After this second DTR, Seth sensed a change in Alexa in that she gave him some space. He found himself attracted to her in a while he hadn’t before. So, now he had some wrestling to do with his feelings; included in this was also his acceptance to Berkeley for graduate school. He took a step of faith on the last day of senior finals:

Seth: I think I like you, would you like to start a relationship? I can give you time if you want.
Alexa [GASP]: Is it ok to say I have already thought about it and yes I’d like to start a relationship?

Seth had to break the news to his friends. HAHAHA! Alexa says that when she finally felt she was letting go of control that is when Seth turned around and chased her!

As Seth describes it, starting their relationship long distance had its benefits. They had to learn how to talk to each other and resolve conflict before hanging up. They discussed what loving one another really meant, especially in light of the Bible’s teaching about commitment. Another important conversation ensued:

Seth: How would I know that I’m ready to say ‘I love you’? I don’t know who I’ll be in the future?
Alexa: It’s an act of faith and grace.

After two minutes of silence on the Berkeley waterfront, Seth said: Alexa, I love you and by the grace of God I’ll love you all my life.

They got engaged that Christmas Eve, and Seth moved back to Ohio to get married while Alexa finished undergraduate. Two kids and at least 16+ years of marriage later, I still remember their love story, which is why I wanted to share it, and I just love them as a couple! They are always encouraging, thoughtful and faithful in their walk with the LORD and in loving one another.

Love, February

Love Stories Countdown to Valentine’s Day #7:
If you truly knew me, would you stay?

The Music Man is obviously not a love story of a friend, but too compelling to forego. It’s a musical by Meredith Wilson set in 1912 River City, Iowa about a charismatic conman, Harold Hill, who poses as a boys’ band organizer in order to swindle naive Midwestern townsfolk into buying musical instruments and band uniforms. He intends to skip town without giving musical lessons before the town gets wise to his scheme.

The only one who stands between him and his latest swindle is the town’s prim and straight-laced librarian and piano teach, Marian Paroo. He attempts to seduce her in order to keep his cover, but fails. Finally Marian finds evidence to expose Harold as a conman, but just then the band instruments arrive. Amongst the children excited for the instruments’ arrival is Marian’s own younger brother, Wintrop, who has become silent and withdrawn into himself after the death of his father. Suddenly full of joy and loquaciousness, Wintrop is wholly transformed, and Marian notices that the entire town has come alive with excitement, kindness and unity over the promised band.

But, why is this a compelling love story? Well, partially because Marian, despite her misgivings about Harold Hill, is able to recognise the good that came through even with his lies. He gave the town something fun to look forward to, to rally around, to be proud of – to dream. But, I think it’s more of a love story for Harold. He had spent his entire life conning people into believing he was someone he was not. He was charming, effervescent, and accepted – so long as they believed his facade. When Marian confesses not only that she loves him but that she knew all along he was a conman, he’s stunned.

Here was the one person who was never fooled by him, yet chose to love him for who he truly was – both good and bad. He’s still in shock when the town finally figures out he’s a swindler, but rather than run away he decides to stay and stand trial. I won’t give a way the ending for any of you who haven’t watched it. But, I highly recommend watching, especially Marian’s defense of him at the climax.

The YouTube excerpt is when the band instruments arrive with the Wells Fargo wagon, and shows the excitement of the whole town:

Love, February

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Love Stories Countdown to Valentine’s Day #6:
Infatuation to friendship

Not all love stories are romantic. Can men and women be friends? Ah, the age old question. Personally, I think yes. Case in point, during my Berkeley days I had to go to the student-run “Computer Help Desk”. It was manned by students in EECS (Electrical Engineers and Computer Science) or others who were well-versed in computers. I’m a luddite, so when my computer acted up, I went for help.

Lo and behold, there was a cute guy manning the desk. But, when I told him my PC was acting up, he said “That’s because PCs are inferior to Macs,” and began to wax lyrical about the superiority of Apple to Microsoft. I literally don’t care what computer I’m using. But, I found his overenthusiasm for Macs amusing, and him even more interesting. Hmmm….but how to make him notice me?

That night I chatted with my roommate, who is also a Mac user, about how weird it was for this guy to love his Mac so much.

Roommate: You don’t understand, Nicole. Mac users LOVE their Mac.
Me: Yeah yeah, I mean, I like my computer too, but because it does what I need it to.
Roommate: No no, Nicole. Mac users L-O-V-E their Macs.
Me: Huh. Really? Interesting……….

Next came about 30 mins of trial and error as I started to insult Macs to my roommate trying to figure out which ones would get a rise. I wanted to have enough comebacks and zings to be cheeky, but avoid being offensive. It’s a delicate balance. I waited a few days, and then returned to the Computer Help Desk.

It worked like a charm. To this day he still thinks this was the first day we met. Oh, no no no, Jason, we met a few days prior. Anyway, I would CASUALLY go to the Computer Help Desk area to check my emails while on campus (there were computers you could hop onto for a few minutes). And then I would CASUALLY just chat with him.

One day we got into an argument over the Hong Kong metro system. It was about the position of the Central station in comparison to Causeway Bay on the Island Line. I insisted Causeway Bay was west of Central, Jason insisted it was east of Central.

Me: Fine, let’s take a bet. If I’m right you have to treat me to dim sum. If you’re right, I’ll treat you to dim sum.
Jason: Fine. Let me look it up!

See, here’s the problem. The moment he agreed to the bet, I had already won. Because no matter who won, we were already on a date. HAHAHAHAHAHA!

Turns out I lost. Rats. But, we were in Berkeley. The dim sum place I chose was in San Francisco. A full 1.5 hours away on public transit. I basically had him for a full half day date.

We had a good time. We soon made this pact to be movie buddies, accompanying one another to the movies that no one else wanted to see. We became good friends. Then one day it dawned on me that I really valued him as a friend, and I was perfectly content that way. That was the end of my scheming. Jason seemed to date a lot more than I did. I couldn’t blame him. After all, he was intelligent, fun and NOT a player: a rare quality in a good-looking Chinese guy. Whenever he had girlfriends I would respectfully keep my distance to acknowledge the relationship boundaries. Not that it was really needed. Jason isn’t the type to cheat. Hilariously we had a conversation about this a while back:

Jason: You know, Marie never liked you.
Me: What?? She never even MET me!
Jason: Yeah, she never liked you. She thought you liked me.
Me: Well, yeah, because I did.
Jason: Really?
Me: Yeah

Men really are daft. Anyway, I’m pleased to say that Jason and I are still friends after all these years. Jason still defends the superiority of Apple. He denies it, but it’s true. I bought my first iPhone from him, as well as my second. He now teases me that I have to concede he was RIGHT about Macs now that I own Mac products. Yeah yeah yeah, whatever, Apple boi.

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    This is a lovely story and I also agree men and women can be very good friends. I have some very good men friends and, as you said, I try to keep my distance from their girlfriends until they understand our friendship. One of my best friends, Jonathan, started to date a girl who I thought was a bit picky, but it was not me the one who date her, so… but she won my heart the day she told him: “If you all go on a trip, you can share the room with M., she’s your best friend and I totally trust her”. I was surprised, as I thought she didn’t like me at all (they are now married and have a lovely baby boy).
    And I’m writing this from my Mac, which is connected to my iPad and my iPhone. I’m an Apple beanie!

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    Lifelong friendships are indeed underrated in the love story scene. I remember I wrote my nonfiction piece in my undergrad creative writing about my relationship with my best friend, and everyone thought I was confessing my romantic love for her.

    Nah, you can love and value someone without them being a romantic interest.

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    Yes, 100% you can be best friends with absolutely anyone without any romantic notions. I’m an Apple convert as well.

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    Awww, this is a delightful story! I’m so happy for you both. And I laughed out loud that you argued over the station stops in HK 🤣

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    Lovely story!

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    On June 20th, 2014 I sent a message to a boy on FB! I even know that it was 10:43 pm!:))
    I told him “I saw your comment on a Friends fan page and I really loved what you had written. Can I be your friend?”
    As an introvert, it has always been so difficult for me to start a conversation but I forced myself to do that and I’m so happy I did!
    Because after that we became friends and since that day, I’ve never met anyone as wonderful as him. No romance..
    He’s my best friend. we live in different cities but we talk to each other every single day. His girlfriend is a gem as well, she always says “ I admire your friendship”.. and those words are so precious for me..

    I’m happy I read about other Beanies and their friends^^

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Love Stories Countdown to Valentine\’s Day #5:
I dig you, Pompeii

This is the love story of two of my very dear friends, but their names have been changed to protect their privacy.

Hannah and Luke met one another on an archaeology program in Rome. The way Luke tells it there was instant spark the moment he met Hannah. He even imagined quite early on what it would be like to be in a relationship with her – even having kids with her (their daughter is about to turn 1 very soon!).

For part of the program they were in Pompeii. On their last night there Hannah and Luke had a heart-to-heart and decided that it wouldn’t be practical to start a relationship long distance. Hannah also had freaked out because Luke is younger than her, and she didn’t want to date someone who (she thought) wouldn’t take the relationship seriously.

Picture the scene: Hannah sitting on her bed, lamenting to her roommate how not dating Luke was probably for the best (but obviously she was very disappointed). Meanwhile Luke was on the phone with his parents lamenting how he met this wonderful woman but they decided not to date because of the long distance.

His parents, being direct as only the Dutch can be: “If you really like her then you’d be stupid not to give it a shot.”

Well, that was the only encouragement Luke needed. He raced over to Hannah’s dorm room.

Hannah says her heart leaped at the knock on her door, hoping it was Luke. And it was. He said they should just go for it.
After that, they dated long distance for a year. They moved to Oxford when she started her masters’ program. They were engaged by March 2013, married in August, then moved to Greece for a year for another archaeological program. They’ve bounced around as academics must.

What is their love like? I think one of our mutual friends once said it best “I just want to find the man who loves me as much as Luke loves Hannah.” I couldn\’t agree more.

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Love Stories Countdown to Valentine\’s Day #4:
Love in the Golden Age

Another love story from my former spiritual director, although this is of her father, George.
George and Louise dated for two years whilst in college. When it was time to graduate she was ready to get married, but he wasn’t. They parted amicably and went on with their lives.

Louise met Bill, married him, and built a life together raising three children. George, after a stint in the army, met Marilynn. They married and also had three children. Too soon Marilynn became very ill. George cared for her until her death, then finished raising their teenage kids alone. Some years later Louise was widowed. Both spent more than a decade alone.

Then came their fifty year college reunion. Although they had had no contact in the intervening years, George and Louise found each other again then. They traveled the world together, sharing their interests, friends, and families. Although they did not marry, their romance brought joy to them and all who knew them.

Love, February

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Love Stories Countdown to Valentine’s Day #3:
What a difference a day makes

My former spiritual director recalls the love story of Connie, a cook from a fraternity house during her college days.

Connie and Joe met in a bar in Utica, NY. As they were talking Joe lamented that no women would want to marry him. Connie replied “That’s not true, I’d marry you.”

They got married the next day.

As Connie was the cook of the fraternity house, she and her husband would attend its annual formal dance. This is where my spiritual director saw them dancing together. They had been married for 30 years by that time. She said that as she watched them dance they looked just as in love as if they were newlyweds.

Love, February

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Love Stories Countdown to Valentine’s Day #2:
One yellow rose

A friend has allowed me to share her parent’s courtship, but their names have been changed to protect their privacy.

Her parents, Nathan and Margot, met at church during their university days. They were in the same college-age youth group. They had been dating for a while, but Margot was still unsure about whether she was ‘in love’ with Nathan. As a poor student Nathan couldn’t afford to take Margot on lavish dates, but he always worked hard to buy her a dozen red roses each Sunday when he took her out on a walk around the parks.

He even proposed to her twice. And was rejected twice.

Then, one day early on in the week Margot decided it was high time to determine whether or not there was a future for her and Nathan. She asked God for a sign. “If he is THE ONE, Lord, then…..hmmmm…..have him bring me a single yellow rose on our next date.”

This seemed like a good litmus test for a legitimate sign since it would be so out of character for him to buy her anything but a dozen red roses. She prompted forgot about her prayer.

The next Sunday Margot came to the door to see a downcast Nathan.

Margot: Nathan, what’s the matter??
Nathan: I went to buy you a dozen red roses today at the market, but they were all wilted and dying. I found these other beautiful roses, but they were so expensive I could only buy one. I hope you don’t mind having a yellow rose today.
Margot [shocked]:….
Nathan [apologetic]: Don’t be upset!!! I promise you, I’ll buy you a dozen red roses next week!!! I PROMISE!!!
Margot: Ummm….no…. that’s okay…..

She didn’t tell him about her prayer until about 2 weeks later when they were on another date.

Margot: Ummm….do you remember how you proposed to me a couple times before…..?
Nathan: Yes…..?

Apparently the story drops off there, at least in Margot’s version. Nathan still claims he proposed to her, and she accepted. She says she nudged him. (Actually, can’t really blame the guy. After all, she did say ‘no’ twice before).

However, over 30+ years of marriage, and 3 kids later I am happy to report they are very much still a wonderful couple, and I am certainly grateful since they are the parents of one of my very dear friends.

Love, February

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What are the holidays without….AWKWARD FAMILY DINNER CONVERSATIONS??

I really love dinner time. Growing up, Dad always insisted that we eat as a family for dinner no matter how busy we were. I have so many happy memories of having dinner together. It was the time when my parents asked about Ellen’s and my day, and we could ask them questions or talk about things we were having difficulty with.

Now my niece and nephew are old enough to ask their own questions at the dinner table. One night the following conversation ensued:

Niece (looking at me): I want cousins from your side
Me: Oh, you want me to give you cousins, Eloise?
Niece (nodding): Do you want to get married?
Me: Yes, of course…
Niece: Will you EVER get married?

(n.b. suddenly, Mom, Dad, Ellen, and François become VERY quiet and their food becomes VERY interesting. Note also Eloise is at one end of the table whilst I\’m on the other.)

Me: Well, hopefully one day….
Niece: Have you found anyone?
Me: Well, not that I’m aware of….no…
Niece: When will you find someone…?
Me: Ummmm….. well…. hey, maybe we can pray to God about that!
Niece: Oh, I already did.
Right, so I guess I’m #sorted. Keep in mind this was markedly different from my conversation with Julien:

Me: Ju-Ju, would you like Auntie to get married so you have a new uncle?
Nephew: You NEVER get married

Me: Well, umm…that’s true. I haven’t gotten married yet. But, IF I got married, would you like a new uncle?
Nephew: No, because 公公 (material grandpa) is the best.

Hilarious.

Love, February

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Random question since I\’m procrastinating and bored: have any Korean dramas recently released make reference to Covid-19 or have the characters in the middle of the pandemic?

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    I don’t think there are any kdramas like that but there is a jdrama set in 2020 with new norms 😆

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    I don’t think any kdrama has done that yet however, cdramas already have. I thought we’d see a lot of dramas on this (mostly medical) but maybe since we’re still in the pandemic, people may not want to see this in their dramas yet.

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    Dialogues in I’ll Find You on a Beautiful Day referring to Covid, they wore masks in Find Me In Your Memory outdoors, used sanitizers in Chip In. Just a scene or 2 in few dramas.

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      I had forgotten about Wheather, but it’s true that it’s said something like “it’s not the best moment to catch a cold”, although I didn’t get the direct reference to Covid.

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    Hospital playlist 2, i believe. As season 1 took set in year 2019, season 2 would (should) have corona virus as the villain for year 2020 setting.

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I\’m just going to say it. I didn\’t like the ending to Record of Youth. I was on board with everything in episode 16 until the last 3 mins. Sadness.

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    I just don’t understand Jeong-ha’s role in this drama. I also don’t get why they didn’t end up together.

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      @smaltwalt: I think the Beanie critics were right in the end. Park So Dam was entirely wasted on this Show.

      There were so many loose ends. Looking back there was a lot which could have been cut. The writing was too loose.

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        I agree. The writing couldve been better. PSD was a prop in this show.

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      It is implied that they can are picking up the pieces and possibly heading towards a relationship again. At least thats how I interpreted the last 3mins. JeongHa was still wearing the shoes HyeJun gave her and appears to still be carrying a torch for him.

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        IDK, I still don’t understand why they broke up in the first place.

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          They broke up because Jeong Ha cares for him too much and she knows he will sacrifice his career for her if it comes to that. Hye Jun can potentially be liable in his endorsement deals due to her. It was shown in a preview or Min Jae mentioned it to Jeong Ha. Also after that scene when she read comments to her blog abt ppl saying that HJ is too good for her that her inferiority complex kicked in.

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          Not a lot made sense in this drama anyway.. 😅

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        @jillian: Agreed, they were tentatively being drawn back towards one another again. The fact that the last scene showed just them on a road alone together, bantering away like when they first met, implied (to me) that the roots of their relationship (the easy conversation, the bantering, the honest) were all still there and a solid foundation with which to rebuild.

        We knew from episode 3 that Jeong-Ha had a string of short relationships, none which seemed to have a lasting impression on her, so wearing the couples shoes Hye-Joon gave her two years earlier really did mean something. And we know that Hye-Joon is not fickle with his love, so it can be inferred that he still loves her. So, it’s open-ended but with a definite pull towards a reunion.

        I mean, I get it. But, I would have wanted more, honestly. There were so many loose ends that could have been pulled together, but the writing was sloppy and loose. Such a pity.

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Watching Record of Youth episode 15. I REALLY don\’t like Jeong-Ha\’s mother. She gives me the creeps.

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I\’m a bit late to the game, but were there any recaps for Mystery Queen 2? Did people like the show, who were able to watch it?

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    Many of us have agreed to pretend it never happened. It wasn’t terrible, unless you watched Mystery Queen 2 and hoped for a sequel with the same vibe that would continue the story of the leads.

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      @ndlessjoie: Awww, that’s too bad! I can’t recall why, but I never got the see the end to Mystery Queen itself. I seem to recall that there wasn’t a love line between the two leads, but there was always an underlying flirtation. Did they not end up together in the sequel?

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        No they didn’t. It really wasn’t given much time during Mystery Queen 2. It just wasn’t as good as the original.

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        Nope they did spend too much time on a ring ml was going to give the fl though 😅. I still haven’t finished it yet but yeah they didn’t get together.

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    Part 2 had a different director ….. and it showed. It just wasn’t the same, as the first one.

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Record of Youth – episodes 13 & 14

I’m finally on board with the Show. It just took 14 episodes. HAHA!

I came in with the wrong expectations. Most Korean Dramas tend to follow certain formulaic plot or character developments, and how the audience judges the execution of the drama is how well it manages to make the tropes new, fresh, subversive, or thought-provoking. In particular, the leads must vanquish the insurmountable challenges, whether it is different social statuses, character flaws, time warps, etc.

But, in Record of Youth’s case, I feel like our leads, whilst still imperfect, are the only sane people in an insane world.

The subtle and nuanced story the drama seems to be telling is how hard life is no matter what.

Whether it is the struggle uphill or the struggle to STAY on top, it’s always a fight and never easy. There will always be people who exploit you when you’re starting out, with little clout or backing to protect you. Once famous there will always be people who either want to capitalize on it, or try to tear you down. If anything, this Show tells us that fame and professional success isn’t a guarantee of a happy life, or that everything is “sorted” afterwards. The problems don’t just go away, you get new ones. In a world like this, who could possible survive with his/her integrity in tact?

Hae-Joon is about as perfect (professionally) as one can envision. He has integrity, honesty, and a strong work ethic. He never exploits. He never takes revenge. He values both family and friends. Fame and money didn’t change the core of his character. He remained level-headed and clear-eyed on his goals and his decorum. He never took the easy way out, even when it costs him. Professionally, you don’t get more perfect than that. Maybe this is why it felt as if the episodes were stagnant before. I expected him to be growing and changing, when actually, he’s this normal (but upright guy) working in a corrupt and capricious industry. He doesn’t need to change. He just needs to remain standing. And that’s quite hard!

Remember when his first drama was a success and his manager wanted him to take a romantic comedy next, but he wanted to do a sageuk? I understood where that manger was coming from. Fame is so fickle and frail, you need to keep the momentum going, and odds are that people tend to like romantic comedies, and sageuks do not tend to do well in the ratings. But, Hae-Joon stuck to his instincts and his desire for a good story. How gutsy and rare!

For all of Jeong-Ha’s flaws, she also is fairly irreproachable. She’s fiscally responsible. She prevents herself from relying too heavily on others, she works to be independent. She has vision for her life, and takes steps to realize it. She’s sensible. She’s classy, and professional with that terribly colleague of hers from episodes 1-8. She recognizes the stresses that Hae-Joon is under, and so whilst we would all prefer her to share her struggles and lonelines with him as he gets famous, she’s actually wise in recognizing that he also has tremendous pressure on him, and does her best to be accommodating and considerate to his emotional needs. Again, not perfect, but if you think about it, most girlfriends would be like Do-Ha’s girlfriend from episode 1 – neediness, demanding, and tacky; or like Ji-A, manipulative.

This is not to say that their relationship is perfect. I’m still not entirely sold on why Hae-Joon fell in love with her in the first place, nor what keeps the flame going. I would agree with all the other commentators that their communication still needs a lot of work. But, I don’t think we’re meant to find something wrong with them that they need to fix. I think the Show reveals to us that even with the most sensible and loving couple, the struggles of youth can tear them apart.

It is really rewarding, though, to see the family’s divisions and tensions start to melt away, apologies expressed or implicitly spoken, and breaches healed between the different members. I like that Hae-Joon’s fame didn’t make things better with the family. They had to come to a decision to bring about the healing themselves. Grandpa giving his son an allowance in episode 13, it was so touching to see Dad’s face light up – not because he’s materialistic but because he’s had to bear the brunt of fiscal responsibility most of his life and at the cost of his health, but finally he got “taken care of”. Even in the earlier episodes, we could start to see Gyeong- jun’s implicit affection and loyalty towards his brother by taunting the mean commentator. Then, in episode 14, the Sa brothers working together to write that apology letter was just adorable. I almost cried.

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    But don’t Hye Joon and Jeong Ha seem too idealistic and perfect then? I mean obviously characters can be perfect but I didn’t watch the show after a few episodes but I thought it would inevitably go that route where fame changed atleast his personality.

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      @wapzy: Yes, I agree with you that Hye-Joon and Jeong-Ha are idealistic, but I would think that makes them imperfect. Yet, aren’t all youths idealistic? It’s only once they enter the big bad world that they realize that life isn’t fair, goodness doesn’t always win, and innocence can be twisted to make someone appear guilty. The show is called “record of youth” and it’s supposed to be a coming-of-age story. So, I think it’s about growing up and growing into the harsh realities of life.

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        Oh I agree that youth is idealistic and so were the characters at the beginning but what I’m saying is that shouldn’t their idealistic beliefs and perfection be reduced by the end (again pointing out, I’m saying this just by reading your post not actually watching the show). If they essentially remined the same then where is the character growth? For the episodes I watched, both these characters seemed real, perfect and idealistic to begin with, the only thing they lacked was success and I thought that the idealistic beliefs would be shaken and the perfection would be altered as the episodes pass by.

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          @wapzy Ah, I see what you mean. My initial thought is that their idealistic beliefs may need to accommodate the harsher reality, but a reduction in perfection would turn things to tragedy rather than hard-won victory. I’m guessing that the ending will be bittersweet.

          I don’t think the Show will have character growth in quite the same way as, say, some cold-hearted chaebol learning to relax his defense mechanisms to love. The character growth will not be to jettison idealism, but operate it wisely within the framework of corrupt and corrupting reality.

          In terms of relative “perfection”, I wouldn’t necessarily want Hye-Joon or Jeong-Ha to become “less perfect”. That would be awful!! That would mean they deteriorate into all the other scum in the entertainment industry (Do-Ha, the rude and arrogant Hallyu actor; Jin-Ju, the senior make-up artist who bullies).

          The challenge will be to remain perfect when everything (and everyone else) around them are trying to taint and spoil them. I suppose this is where the drama ventures into “fantasy.” Most people cave, compromise and concede long before Hye-Joon and Jeong-Ha did/does.

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    I’m not following this so closely, but I do agree that the show becomes better/more manageable as it goes on. If I have one complaint, it’s that Hye-joon and Jeong-ha are too good? I don’t see myself in them — although I try every day to be the best person I can be, to be a person of integrity and honesty, I sometimes don’t do as well as I wish. So I don’t see myself in these characters, although I def wish I could be more like them.

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    I still really like this show and look forward to it every week. I didn’t expect a formula, but did expect an introspective look at what life has given these characters and how they navigate it. I really love the family dynamics that finally showed itself in episode 14, like this family has finally figured out how to support each other. And I totally get how difficult it is to have a relationship with someone at the beginning of your careers and how busy they are and you are. It’s sometimes like ships passing in the night. You never see them but have to have faith they still love you and care about you. I do like how Hye Joon is able to tell Jeong-ha in just a few words and looks that she’s adored by him. But she’s busy too. And less inclined to be swept up by romance. I feel like many people who don’t care for this show have a bias against girls who aren’t just head over heals in love. She’s so level-headed, but she has to be. She has been since supporting herself on her own. I like her. And as much as I hate to admit it, she’s very much like me. I’d totally break up with my boyfriend under the same circumstances. I would think I was running on borrowed time. I’m not emotional. Breaking up is easier the earlier you do it. The only boy that I never broke up with was my husband—I initiated all my previous break ups. You see where things are headed and that they aren’t working faster than the other person. She’s used the seeing several steps in front of her. I get her. She’s totally independent and definitely not anyone’s potted plant (although a prominent potted plant is noted these last few episodes). This show feels like real life and their decisions feel real.

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      @allyyymalditaa: Agree, I totally agree with you. She does think several steps ahead.

      I’m also rather level-headed, so I completely understand her position and her choices. They are sensible, frankly! Given the same circumstances, I would also feel we were on borrowed time. She may have a difficult start to her professional career, but I love that she’s no “candy.”

      Even Hye Joon might veer close to a male-version of a candy, but he isn’t. I like that.

      I like that none of our characters are genuine victims or needy. They are just normal people with flaws, dreams, fears, and aspirations. They are relatable.

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    Glad to find another fan of the show and I agree with all of what you said! I’m so glad that the drama really shows what happens behind the scene with the stars that we love (not really accurate but there’s some realness to it).

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Just finished watching Record of Youth episode 12, and I found it MUCH better. The plot and relationships are developing nicely. I just wish this had happened about 4 episodes ago.

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