The future union of Eric and Marla began innocuously enough as being little more than acquaintances, Marla being known mainly to Eric as the 1.5' shorter girlfriend of a physics major friend. This came to mind on those odd occasions when the two met, but did not seem likely to ever impact either life. In hindsight, the foundation was laid when Eric learned of Marla's summer job dressing as an alleged lobster to greet freshly arrived Americans to Yarmouth and -- in theory at least -- to tempt them to head straight to a local restaurant to sate their seafood cravings. Since she was occasionally accused of being dressed as the devil, it seems as though this was of dubious value to the eatery. Still, this (some might say "crappy") summer job proved to be the initial spark that would lead to what the author assumes will be a lifetime of happiness for each of our protagonists.
Knowing of Marla's trials, the ever-delicate Eric would yell to her across campus "Hey Lobster-girl!" and burst not-so-spontaneously into a lobster dance with "claws" waving in the air. Marla feigned amusement. This seems likely to be a recurring action throughout the rest of Marla's life. Others noticed the good humor with which Marla received Eric's antics. Neither Marla nor Eric realized how deeply such chicanery would influence their lives.
Here the story peters out for a span of several years. Marla graduates and moves to Ottawa to pursue more writing opportunities and a change of scenery. Eric graduates and moves back to his home in New Hampshire, bringing with him one of his best friends from Acadia, Chris Boran, to work at the now defunct Opticom. This too had unexpected consequences.
While working at Opticom Chris met a woman, Erica, who eventually became his wife (this story omitted for irrelevance to the current yarn). At Chris and Erica's wedding the lobster dance returned to reshape Eric and Marla's lives. Some mutual friends who had witnessed Eric's predictable but strange outbursts at Acadia had also moved to Ottawa and become or remained friends with Marla -- of particular note here is Windy Tam. Windy passed along an apocryphal greeting from Marla to Eric; Marla denies ever sending such a message.
Still, the damage was done and Windy compounded the situation by giving Eric Marla's email address. For several months Marla and Eric exchanged harmless, conversational emails. A second wedding -- perhaps a portent for the future! -- was to rejoin Marla and Eric's lives, if only for an evening. This joining, however, was much more by design than those that had preceded it. Eric asked Marla to be his date to Todd and Linda's nuptials at the end of August, 2003. Many thanks must be given here to several drivers who made this night possible. The first are Eric's parents, who waited for him to get out of his job -- Opticom having laid him off twice by this point -- as the chief overnight box hefter in a grocery store and drove him to Ottawa for the wedding. Thank you also to Amanda Jenkins, with whom Eric was staying on this trip and who graciously agreed to drive Marla to the wedding with them. So yes, Eric had both his parents and another woman drive him on his first date with Marla. Again, Marla put on a brave face and gave Eric a chance to prove himself. Both Eric and Marla had a good time at the wedding, in spite of the fact that Marla was actually sick and had considered not going at all. Many of their friends knew there was something special brewing as Eric actually agreed to dance with Marla a couple of times.
A couple of cars and many thousands of driving miles (along with a plummeting US exchange rate and skyrocketing gas prices!) later and Eric was nearly prepared to propose. Ethics and personal taste made Eric want to buck the tradition of a diamond engagement ring, but that meant he had to find some suitable replacement. A lot of time was spent thinking about how this could be resolved before the answer came in two parts. The first was Eric's flash of inspiration: they could mine their own stone to put into an engagement ring. That only left the minor detail of figuring out how on earth to go about doing it. TV provided the answer just days later. The Travel Channel ran a special on "treasure" vacations which featured the Sheffield Mine in Franklin, NC. This open sapphire/ruby (it turns out they're the same thing) mine was just what Eric needed. Now he just had to find the right time -- and of course that time had to be while the mine was open (April to October only) -- to find out if Marla would go for his plan.
Several months later the time was unexpectedly (even to Eric) right as our heroes found themselves sitting beside each other at Little Mexico restaurant in Hampstead, NH. The moment revealed itself to Eric between the second and third taco (you simply must try them!), prompting him to finally*
ask Marla if she would be able to take some time off work to fly to Atlanta to mine a ruby to put into an engagement ring. The fact that you are here reading this and have hopefully looked at the pictures should tell you what her answer was. Other people's weddings have played such a role in bringing Eric and Marla together that it was only a matter of time before they would have one of their own. June 9, 2007 they will have their day.
Special thanks must to be given to Will and Windy, who have oddly been present for every event that brought Eric and Marla together--sometimes only passively, others actively pushing things along, but always there. Looking back, this is actually kind of creepy. . . but thanks just the same for all the support and help you both have given.
"finally" added by Marla