...While in our first year of University at UBC, we almost met again in what we call “the vending machine incident." It was on a day in the spring of 1996 when we both happened to want something from the vending machine in the Chemistry Building. Having finished my Chemistry lecture for the morning, I headed to the vending machine in search of some gummies before meeting Jeff at the Psychology building where we ate lunch every day. I was waiting patiently, second in line, when unfortunately the East Indian girl in front of me ran into some trouble with the vending machine. She had pressed the code for an Oh Henry! bar but the chocolate bar had gotten stuck! I thought about charging at the machine and jarring the chocolate bar loose – but how stupid would I look if the machine didn’t even budge and I was lying on the floor with a separated shoulder? I suppose I could have gotten an Oh Henry!, but I had only enough change to get one item – and I didn’t want a chocolate bar! So I did the embarrassingly non-valiant thing of stepping aside and giving up my spot in line for the next person. And who was that next person in line? None other than Gloria! I didn’t really notice her as I decided to forgo my gummies and sheepishly left the building soon after, but she told me almost a year later that she gave up her favourite chips and bought an Oh Henry! that day to free the stuck one!
Later that spring, my high school friend kept telling Eli and I during Physics lectures about this girl on whom he had a crush. He told me that she had recently been involved in a relationship that did not end amicably, and so therefore she was in no rush to get into a new relationship. At the time, I didn’t know that he was in fact courting Gloria. One time while walking across campus, Eli pointed to some girl in a plaid jacket and referred to her as “the girl,” but I could only see her from a distance.
Eli had met Gloria when they started Pharmacy school together in September 1996. They both had equally poor schedules which resulted in three hour breaks on campus, and thus got to know each other well. By early October 1996, Eli was already telling me, “Have I found the girl for you! She’s awesome!” I went on to hear how she was bright, and pretty, and was involved in this and that extra-curricular activity, etc. I was cynical – if she were all this, why would she bother with me? In fact, Gloria and I were both in the same Organic Chemistry lab on Thursday afternoons! Let me say that Chemistry lab is the worst possible place to judge anybody’s appearance. We all wore glasses or awful goggles on top of contact lenses and we were primarily concentrating on how to pass the pop quizzes and how not to break any Erlenmeyer flasks or blow anything up. Nonetheless, I could tell that Eli was right – Gloria was stunningly beautiful.
The propaganda from Eli (primarily in my favour) continued through the fall of 1996. By the end of the semester, I had already heard so much about her and she had heard so much about me through Eli. I even remember very clearly saying to Eli that Gloria met every criterion I had in finding “the one,” and just knew in my heart she was perfect for me in every way. When my sister’s pet rabbits decide to have a cute litter of bunnies around Christmas time, we could think of no better way to get Gloria to come over and "officially" meet me. And so, after final exams, we finally arranged a time when she would come with her friends in a non-threatening first meeting.
On December 18, 1996, the doorbell rang, I opened the front door, and shook the hand of my future wife. As the new year rolled around, we spent more and more time talking on the phone and seeing each other. I won tickets through the Vancouver Sun for the movie ‘Evita’ but did not have the guts to ask her to go with me. Finally, on February 3, 1997, she had apparently had enough of wasting time, and mentioned to me that she had $50 in gift certificates to The Keg Steakhouse & Bar that she wanted to use, and asked me to go with her the following Friday. I asked Eli if this actually meant anything, or if she just wanted to eat steak? Eli reassured me that it was a very positive development and not to worry.
On February 7, 1997, I got off school and went to Thomas Hobbs Florist to get three roses. I picked up Gloria from the Pharmacy building and gave her the roses, and she clearly was surprised. She was wearing a black top and a long floral skirt – which I later learned was out of character for her. We had dinner at The Keg in Burnaby during which she asked if I could cut her steak in half and share it with her. I asked her how she would like it cut and she joked that it needed to be cut lengthwise down the side (along the horizontal plane), and that’s exactly how I cut it for her! After dinner, we went to the annual Sun Brite Lunar New Year Festival at the PNE. We then headed to Cheesecake Etc. to have dessert. Over dessert, I asked her what she thought about where we were going, and she just reflected the question back at me. I told her the three roses represented the three words that said everything about how I felt about her. She smiled and timidly said, “I feel the same way.”
So, by the time we get married on May 27, 2006, nearly 10 years will have passed since that fateful day, and yet it still remains entrenched in my memory forever as clearly as yesterday. We’ve experienced so much together and discovered so much about each other and the fairy tale endures.