I t was the fall of 1977 as I skipped down the stairs into the basement of the Student Union. The semester had just begun and I was one of thousands of students at the busy beehive of higher education called the University of Arizona in Tucson. Already in my mid-20s, I was making a career change from law enforcement to journalism. While taking a full course load, I had also landed a part-time job right there on campus to help pay for my living expenses – working in the games room, where many students killed time in between classes to meet friends, release tension, socialize, and have some fun. My job there entailed overseeing about 50 pool tables, several dozen pin ball machines, and other games that students could rent out. It was really convenient and easy for me to attend classes and then just walk over to another building right there on campus for my four hour shift working in the Student Union several days a week. Not knowing many people there either, the job gave me a way of meeting new students and making friends.
Adnan came into the games room almost daily to play pool. I discovered what his name was because whenever anyone wanted to rent a pool table, he had to leave his ID at the check-out counter where I worked. Even Adnan's name sounded exotic and exciting to me. I was definitely interested, and I felt strongly that I wanted to get to know this tall-dark-and-handsome mysterious stranger.
One night several weeks into the term while I was working the evening shift, Adnan came in to play pool. Lo and behold, THIS time Miss Priss was nowhere in sight! THIS time he was there to play pool with another guy. So, I decided to seize the opportunity – Carpe Diem! This was my big chance to try to make an impression, to make this oblivious guy who made my heart flutter notice me. As I handed them the rack of colorful pool balls, I assigned the two young Arab men to the pool table closest to me, just a few short yards away from the large counter where I worked. Lucky for me, it was a very slow night in the games room. Miraculously Adnan and I occasionally made eye contact and exchanged a couple of brief smiles while he played. But what could I do to really make him notice me, to make myself stand out? Trying to be charming or cute was out of the question - when he was around, he made me feel tongue-tied. So as Adnan and his friend played pool, I hatched a plan. I decided to draw a sketch of Adnan. So I got out a piece of blank paper and a pencil and began drawing him.
When Adnan and his buddy finished playing pool, they approached the desk to return the rack of balls and pay. I presented Adnan with the sketch I had made of him, saying simply, "I made this for you." It had actually turned out to be a pretty good likeness of him - although admittedly, he was fairly easy to draw since the sketch consisted mostly of his big curly afro and beard!
I was so anxious about our date, I must have changed outfits a dozen times before I settled on a pair of cream colored jeans and a purple sweater. I applied minimal fresh faced make-up, tossed my hair, and I was out the door, arriving promptly on time for our first date. But to my surprise, Hassan, the friend he had played pool with the night before, also showed up. However, it was okay because it actually helped ease the tension I was feeling and made me more relaxed and not so nervous. We laughed and talked while we played pool, and I discovered that Adnan had a great sense of humor, one of the most important qualities I look for in a man. I learned my first Arabic words that day, "Darba helwa!" which means "Good shot!" I found Adnan to be very likable and easy to be around. My nervousness at the thought of being near him quickly vanished. He was smart and witty, and I thought he was very handsome, of course. He was the whole package. And I was smitten.
The following week after I drew his picture was my 26th birthday. Adnan invited me to his tiny efficiency apartment for a birthday party. I had no idea what to expect. Again I became nervous about what to wear and I fussed about styling my hair. I decided to wear a fairly simple brown faux suede sleeveless dress with narrow cream colored lace and brown satin ribbon adorning the fitted bodice and straps. My shoulder length blonde hair was flowing loosely, with soft gentle curls framing my face. I kept my makeup to a minimum, and in the end, I was quite happy with my appearance that night.
The birthday party turned out to be a party for just the two of us, although he had arranged for his friend Hassan to come over and act as the photographer and take pictures for a while. His stereo lightly played typical 70s music, like the Bee Gees, Donna Summer, Kool and the Gang, Barry White, and Irene Cara. The small but tidy space was decorated with a few streamers and balloons and lit candles were set about the room for mood lighting. Spicy incense was sweetly burning. The table was adorned with a cheerful tablecloth and offered an assortment of goodies like cashews, chips, pretzels, veggies with dip, other munchies and delectable chocolate truffles. Plus a birthday cake and ice cream - all that, just for the two of us!
And that was the beginning of what was to be our twelve-year long courtship. Yes, you heard it right! Twelve long years before we finally tied the knot! True to his word, Adnan framed the drawing I had made of him and we still have it to this day - it is part of our history together, what initially brought us together in the first place.
Oh! And remember that gorgeous blond, Miss Priss, who used to come into the games room with Adnan to play pool? Adnan told me that they were just friends, that she was actually the girlfriend of another friend of his. He was apparently just keeping Miss Priss company and babysitting/watching over her for his buddy while he was in class. I don't know how true that story was, but I just let the matter drop since the Miss Priss no longer came around anymore once I entered Adnan's life. And that was enough for me!
Over the years when people have learned that my significant other is from Saudi Arabia, often the very first question I will inevitably be asked has been if he is a prince. My answer has always been a resounding, "Yes! He is a Prince ... Among Men!" Adnan is MY prince, and I feel like a very lucky woman, indeed.