The Rest of the Story (Habit: Selective Memory)

Years ago, I wrote a book (never published) about all of the habits of mine that my wife finds annoying. I contend that these are typical male habits. My wife says that they are specific to me. Love to hear your thoughts. I’m now posting these habits weekly on my blog. Please let me know if you agree with me or my wife. The habit below is from the section First Comes “II Do.” Then Comes “You Don’t.”

In January 1994, I faced a huge problem. At the time, I was living in Tokyo and worked in advertising sales for a magazine publisher. Due to problems with my visa, I needed to leave Japan within two weeks. I’d lived there over three years and wanted to stay longer. However, as the Japanese government views overstaying one’s visa as breaking the law, I spent my remaining time trying to fix the situation. During those two weeks, my then girlfriend visited me in Tokyo. While we were discussing my options, she asked if I wanted to get married. Unbeknownst to her, I had my mother’s engagement ring. I pulled it out and said, “Yes!”

Of all the stories I tell that bother my wife, the one about how we became engaged annoys her the most. The story is accurate, though, in her opinion, I leave out numerous details. However, it’s not only my recollection of that evening that she questions. She claims my memory of our entire dating life is faulty.

I met my wife in Japan in March 1993. At the time, I worked for a company in Osaka. She worked for a hotel on Awaji Island, a tourist spot off the coast of Kobe. My friends and I went to Awaji during the off-season, hoping to get away from the city. We succeeded beyond measure; the place seemed deserted. More people visited Gilligan’s Island than came to Awaji Island while we were there.

The hotel where my wife worked offered monthly classical concerts as part of a weekend package to increase off-season business. With NOTHING else to do, my friends and I went into the hotel to ask about the concert.

The front desk clerk saw us enter and, concerned we might not speak Japanese, fetched my wife as she speaks English. We ended up at the concert, even attending a party afterwards. At the party, I got my wife’s phone number and called her a week later. What really happened that night, though, is still a debated topic. The stories from each of us:

Me: I was immediately attracted to her from the minute I saw her and decided I had to get to know her better.

Her: You hit on the violinist, an attractive Japanese woman in a low-cut blue dress with a huge stuff job. After striking out, you introduced yourself to me.

Me: Our first date was at a nice Italian restaurant in Osaka.

Her: The food wasn’t great, but Walt was paying.

Me: I was devoted to her from the beginning.

Her: You were dating other girls besides me. They just lived farther away.

Me: I knew she was the only girl for me.

Her: You knew you would never find anyone else to put up with you.

So, when I tell people that she proposed, she lets them know her side, stating I’d already mentioned prior to that evening that I wanted to get married and that she had turned me down, saying we should date for at least a year. That January night, her question of us getting married was a discussion item; she was caught off guard by the ring (as well as my “crying” about possibly being deported and not knowing when I would see her again).

Oh well. It’s been 28 years since that night in Tokyo. And after all that time, how we got together is less important that the fact that we still are together, which will likely end as soon as she reads this essay in print.

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