For this section, please consider the following timeline:
- August 2, 2001 – A Thursday; my first date with Katherine (aka KFlo)
- August 5, 2001 – A Sunday; I officially girlfriend her up
- September 9 – A Sunday; last day of Pro Tour New York
- September 12 – A Wednesday; (note the date) get engaged
- February 2, 2002 – Wedding day
So I met Katherine on a Thursday.
Like I said in the previous section, I had pre-existing plans on Friday and Saturday, which allowed me to seem less-than-overeager about our next date, and granting me important leverage when dating someone several levels above my station (which I would later cede by giving her all my money, complete and slavish lifelong devotion, and so on); that Saturday I was hanging out with BDM and we were debating whether it was the best or worst first date of my good dating year. On the one hand I was already pretty sure I was going to marry her, on the other hand… never mind the other hand. BDM pointed out I should probably clear it with her that she was officially my girlfriend, which I did the next day (you know, the day I had already told my mommy I had met the woman I was going to marry).
About a month later was Pro Tour New York 2001, which was my first Pro Tour money finish, and still my best one, at 17th. At this point, Katherine identified [playing] Magic as a +EV activity.
Two days after that Katherine had to go on a business trip to… Somewhere. We were already spending most of our time together, but I stayed at her place to take care of her then-dog Frank. It turns out I was feeling a bit ill that Tuesday, so I didn’t go to work. I worked in downtown Manhattan at the time, and would often switch trains through the World Trade Center, which was just a few blocks from where I worked, as well as the block of a falafel place I would sometimes frequent.
So… That was lucky!
Many New Yorkers have stories about how they avoided the chaos on September 11, 2001; mine was just that I stayed home sick, dogsitting. My office-mates from that era have pictures of themselves fleeing, mummified head to toe, and covered with snowstorm mantles of gray dust. One of them broke her ankle leaping to the Staten Island Ferry, in retreat; she did nit live on Staten Island.
Katherine was in Queens; LaGuardia Airport, attempting to get out of her cab as she was flooded with a tidal wave of humans fleeing the airport. Obviously she lost her cab, and was stranded without transport. She took in a penniless but wildly attractive Australian couple (if you took her new buddies as a microchosm of “down under” you would be convinced of a populace exclusively composed of young Ben Afflecks and Gwyneth Paltrows), and let them share her hotel room for the night. The Aussies had what we presume is the last-ever footage ever taken from the top of the WTC, which they had acquired sightseeing the previous day.
On September 12 Katherine finally walked in the door, exhausted and crying. “They’re all dead,” she said, talking about a floor full of financial clients her agency had – she had – based in one of the two fallen towers. “And yes,” she concluded. “Yes, I’ll marry you.”
Now I had started bugging K about marrying me starting with… Probably our first phone call.
Obviously, as an HB10 with quite a bit more dating experience than I had, she thought I was a lunatic. I mean she had told her best friend on August 3, the day after our first date, as she unwrapped the single white orchid I had sent to her office, that she had met the boy she was going to marry; but she still – to my face – accused me of immature hysteria.
So that is the story of how, about one month after we met, we decided to spend the rest of our lives – however long they might be – together.
It’s been ten years, and I realize most of you don’t live in New York. But having even my own small experience, I can tell you that we didn’t know how long those lives were going to be. Was the world going to end tomorrow? Most people weren’t going to work, we didn’t know what the protocol was; we didn’t know what we were supposed to do, or how we were supposed to feel.
Wasn’t this supposed to be the greatest city in the world?
Weren’t we invincible Americans anyway?
For her – she wanted to spend however long she had left with who she wanted to spend it with; lucky for me, that was me. For me – Honestly I had quickly figured out that I was never going to do any better. I have had modest success dating some pretty decent looking girls, but my wife is a stone kold 10. She’s dropped two kids and just crossed into her fourth decade and still has a – I spit you not – a six pack, and is a size 0-2. Given that she eats better than anyone I’ve ever met and loves yoga and running, I can only presume she is going to be exactly this gorgeous well after I have been returned to the earth. Katherine is an unambiguously awesome person; the most loving mother I could ever hope my children could have, and amazingly, good at everything. She’s won awards as both a writer and an advertising executive, modeled for Levis, run a sub-four-hour marathon, finished second in her class in college… and holds Masters Degrees in both Philosophy and Theoretical Physics. I don’t think it is sexist to observe how uncommon it is for a young girl to be completely driven and focused on math, science, and overall excellence at age seven… By my best guess Katherine is more a reason we have one of those than I am.
Sure, she likes to spend money… But luckily (and largely due to her continued support) we make a fair amount of money. All marriages have their ups and downs, trials and tribulations, but I can tell you that given what my little family has been through, she loves me completely and unswervingly and I could not have chosen a better partner. Her greatest quality today — among quite a few fine qualities of intelligence, good looks, and success-driven mindset — is her constant drive for self-improvement. Which is infectious. So in a masterstroke of gamesmanship and decisive bias for action… I had to put the platinum shackle on her before she figured it all out and married someone else! There is no doubt as to who got the better end of the deal.
Katherine had this awesome idea of getting married on 02/02/02, which was the six-month anniversary of our first date. It was also just an awesome day to get married from an aesthetic standpoint. If we didn’t get married then, we would have to get married on 03/03/03, 04/04/04… or like Thea Steele did, 10/10/10 (obviously copied me).
We decided to basically elope, shoestring it together, get married in our new apartment (which we moved into less than a week before 02/02/02) and all of that. We were just going to City Hall it, but 02/02/02 was a Saturday, meaning that City Hall wasn’t open; and we would have to find our own Justice of the Peace or whatever.
I used Google* to find ours and we ended up with this goofy lady with tons of hair who prayed over crystals and was also a part-time life coach or therapist of some kind. Her “office” was the lobby of an Upper East Side luxury hotel (she said “they had an understanding”) and the whole initial interview ended up exactly how you are picturing it in your head right now.
On the downside, getting married with very little notice, in your apartment, by the crystals healer you found on the Internet limits your guest list somewhat, so the birth of Team Filipino Dress Shirt would have to wait for some months. Katherine just had her superhot best friend, her sorta-sister (and that sister’s new husband and rugrats) on her side; I had my parents and kid sister, and in terms of friends, Jeff Wu, altran, Tuna, and John Shuler. So, super small, etc.
I mean there were countless adventures leading up to this date.
For example the previous month Katherine had the trial of meeting my mommy. She was basically terrified of my scary old mommy. Today mommy likes Katherine much more than she likes me (not uncommon amongst non-Josh Ravitz humans who know us both), but that was a stress that could only be alleviated by diamonds. Luckily (or probably unluckily) my parents’ hotel was near New York’s diamond district, and just walking by a showroom window tragically reversed our original decision of not getting a stupid engagement ring.
But she was just so cute bouncing up and down chanting “Ooh can I have one please?”
Or there was the first meal we shared in our new neighborhood. We walked by a local BBQ. Katherine grilled the waitress over every appetizer and side dish. “Is there pork in that? Well… Is there pork in that?” I don’t remember what she ordered but I can be reasonably sure there was no pork in it. So when I got my dinner she gave me the stinkeye, leered over the tops of her Lisa Loeb cat’s-eye glasses, and queried, “Aren’t you going to ask me if I want to try some?”
“Um,” I responded. “I would, but I am pretty sure there is pork in this.”
Or there was the Thursday before 02/02/02, my bachelor party, which – I don’t know how much better or not-better it was than April 1, 1999 – but I declared it the funnest night of my entire life. A cadre of mono-Magic players including Jon Becker – all the way up from Philadephia – Brook North (master of the tournament report), and the local members of Team Discovery Channel took me for an orgy of crackling pork butt, braised lamb shank, and assorted other prime, dead animals served with firecracker apple sauce (exactly what it sounds like).
Because New York is awesome like that, we came into our Round Two venue at the same time as Ice-T from Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. Brook went up to Ice-T, stuck out his hand with that friendly Southern boy man-shake of his, and said “Mr. T, great to meet you; I am a big fan of your work.”
I was at this point unused to the luxury that my friends were heaping on me.
“Never get divorced,” said Brook. “Because if you do, the party’s all on you.”
How to Grow Taller:
I have been trying to step up to this challenge for literally the last nine years. Katherine challenges me like no one else I’ve ever met.
When I talk about the circumstances surrounding the opening salvo of my marriage, listeners are often shocked. We knew each other for the blink of an eye. I really did hire some kind of crystals life coach off the Internet to legally staple us together. We got married in our apartment instead of a synagogue or whatever.
But you know what?
Do exactly what is right for you. Be brave. Take a stand and stand by what you’ve done.
The eleven-year-old version of me would be proud.
How to Grow Darker:
I wish I could tell you. But there is absolutely nothing that stems out of this seemingly-impulsive, best, decision I have ever made that would lead me to believe I could.
How to Get More Handsome:
This is a trick that I have picked up, but unfortunately it is ultimately pointless, like nipples on men, or for that matter, on Joel Shoemacher’s Batman costumes.
All you have to do is stand next to someone super good looking, and you automatically seem more handsome! It’s like it rubs off or something, or maybe actually good looking people have a halo of attractiveness you can share or whatever.
One weird side effect of isolated perceived possible increased attractiveness is that your life flashes into stark relief. Once upon a time I had a lot of women friends, some of them pretty cute. About five minutes after I met Katherine, they all disappeared without a wink, which I didn’t realize for years later.
Additionally Katherine basically jettisoned my entire wardrobe from before we got married (I used to have so many black tee shirts because instead of doing laundry, I would just buy more black tee shirts), and has re-made me in whatever image she thinks I should dress as.
So instead of black tee shirts I mostly have brown tee shirts (she assures me this is better with my coloring). And instead of lots of casual slacks from Banana Republic, I now have lots of Levis jeans. My daily uniform is usually a nice oxford shirt, a kicky tie she probably bought and certainly chose to go with the shirt, and Levis; in addition, I have a girl-like collection of shoes; more than my wife, in fact. I guess the sad part of that is that I almost always wear Crocs sandals in the summer and Adidas Sambas all the rest of the time.
I don’t know how effective this ultimately is, because even if I got infinitely more handsome, I get no utility out of it, on account of being stapled to Katherine in perpetuity.
In 1999 Dave Price told me that the line between his “friends” and his “Magic friends” had blurred almost to nothingness. At the time I still had girls bucketed in a different group, and even if I hung out with certain girls alongside Magician friends, I would still think of the girls one way and the Magicians another way.
Today I still hang out with people I know from Magic. I would wager that I spend more time talking to Brian David-Marshall and Patrick Chapin than anyone other than my wife. My groomsmen and bachelor party friends were all Magicicians. Today – almost ten years later – the social center of my week is Movie Klub, the stone nuts put together by Lan D. Ho at Jon Finkel’s apartment.
Who are some of the founding members? Jon’s Antarctica teammate Daniel O’Mahoney-Schwartz, troll-slaying Tom Martell, and secret MTGO grinder Webb Allen. An early irregular was – and this was amazing to me – Eric Tam, Canadian National Champion and alumnus of the Top 8 of Pro Tour One. Who did I bring in later? Luis Neiman (aka Luis not-Vargas), who himself brought in the first-ever StarCityGames.com Premium writer Mark Young to join the squad. Late Wednesday nights who am I hanging out with after Movie Klub? Tony “the Shark” Tsai and his lovely gf Hsiao (who isn’t a Magician but actually one of my ex-co-workers)!
Jamie Parke told me if I could guarantee we would just run Role Models every week (or at least switched over to Survivor Klub), he would join, too.
What a stack of misers! Might as well be a squad of Grand Prix grinders. But like, with jobs.
* This is a complete lie. It was 2001 and I used Yahoo. Don’t tell anyone.