Julie’s Story: 3. Oblivious

If you read the previous installment of this narrative, you know that when Julie told me she was divorcing her husband, I leapt to the assumption that this disclosure would segue into a declaration of her love for me, which would itself be followed by the two of us living together happily ever after. You also know that, in actuality, the announcement of her impending divorce led instead to her announcement that she was marrying Philip, one of our English professors. Consequently, you may consider me a bit of a schmuck. Well, if so, you don’t know the entire story; once you do, you’ll realize I was an incredibly naive, best of show, so oblivious as to be a danger to self sort of schmuck.

While one might think that my characteristic cynicism would protect me from such emotional ambushes, my failure to anticipate Julie’s plans was hardly an isolated case. The clue, for example, that led me to figure out that my closest friend in medical school had been romantically involved for years with another of our classmates, whom I also knew well, was their invitation to be a groomsman in their wedding. There are many, many such instances in which  I somehow discounted, misinterpreted, or rationalized away signs and indicators to maintain a blissful unawareness of an important relationship issue it announced itself.

That brings us back to Julie’s Story. During that first year of my obsession with her, there were, in retrospect, many subtle and some not so subtle indications  that something was afoot between her and Philip. Some were ambiguous and could have been reasonably interpreted in any number of ways. At least one instance, however, required all my powers of obliviousness to evade the onslaught of clues, signs, and blatant expositions of the truth.

Perhaps three or four months prior to Julie’s I’m leaving my husband to move in with our English instructor announcement, I happened upon her and Philip sitting together in the Student Union. This was not inherently suspicious; instructors and students often met there.  Julie and Philip motioned me over to their table where we chatted. While we were talking, Philip resumed scribbling something on the inside cover of a paperback book, which he then pushed across the table to Julie, explaining that he was giving it to Julie because it was on a topic of interest to her. Again, there was nothing odd about a teacher giving a student a review volume that faculty member had received gratis from the publisher.

When Julie looked at the inscription quizzically, Philip grinned in self-satisfaction and rotated the book toward me so I could see what he had written, joking that it was a shame that neither of us had a classical education and thus couldn’t read the note he had written in Greek. Well, I certainly hadn’t had a classical education at Oklahoma Christian College or Missouri Southern College, but a bored English teacher who ended up at my high school in the Ozarks had whimsically decided to pull four of us who had thoughts of entering the ministry from Senior English and teach us Greek. While I learned Koine Greek (the Greek of the New Testament), there was enough overlap with the Attic Greek Philip had written to allow me to translate the message as something on the lines of “With great love and care.”

My translation precipitated a flood of stuttered explanations and rationalizations from Philip dealing with the Greeks’ multiple definitions of “love,” the feelings of two academic colleagues for one another, the cavalier usage of the term, … . All these excuses, however, were wasted on me. The notion that there might be a spark of illicit affection between Julie and Philip never intruded into my consciousness. I do recall, to my chagrin, the hope that Julie would be impressed by my knowledge of Greek.

Turns out, she was.

Still, it seems evident that, in this case, winning Julie’s admiration wasn’t the optimal or most pertinent choice of focus.

What I’ve since determined about my obliviousness and its implications vis-à-vis Julie awaits the second part of this posting.

Julie Showalter

Julie Showalter was the fiercely intelligent, sexy, and loving woman with whom I had a outrageously wonderful marriage that ended with her death in late 1999 from cancer diagnosed the week of our wedding nearly 20 years earlier. She was also a brilliant scholar, the mother of our two sons, and a prize-winning author. Many posts on this blog are about her and still others consist of her writings. Julie’s Story is the account of our unlikely romance, Information can be found at Julie Showalter FAQ.

Julie’s Story

Next Installment: 4. Sojourn In The Wilderness, Part I
Previous Installment: 2. The First To Know
First Installment Of Julie’s Story: 1. This Is How A Love Story Began

Note: Originally posted Apr 19, 2006 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

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