How It All Began...

A famous comedian recently interviewed people walking down a busy street, asking them about the best and worst “pick-up lines” they had ever heard. Their answers ranged from the classic, “Your dad must be a thief…because he stole the stars and put them in your eyes,” to the overused, “You must be tired…because you’ve been running through my mind all day,” to the corny, “If I were to rewrite the alphabet, I’d put U and I together.” One favorite was, “Do you know how much a polar bear weighs? …Enough to break the ice! Hi, I’m ____.”


As I laughed at the silly lines and wondered who in the world had ever fallen for one, I thought back to my freshman year at college. Before even arriving on campus, I had heard the standard jokes about going to college to get an MRS degree or “find a man.” I had responded with disdain, “I’m not dating anyone seriously until at least my junior year, maybe my senior year. I’m going to focus on my grades.”


I had decided that since I felt the Lord was calling me to the mission field, I would only date someone who also was called. That ought to narrow it down a bit, I thought. And I definitely won’t date much for a couple of years; I’m here to learn! My major would be Spanish Education. I wanted to learn the art of teaching in order to help in my future ministry. Studying Spanish would help improve my language skills; I had already had two years in high school and had worked in a Spanish ministry back home, but I wanted to become more fluent. I chose English for my minor because not only did I love grammar and literature, I also knew that English teachers can get into just about any country. I decided to take as many hours as I could handle in order to graduate early. Yes, the plan was to study hard and not date!


The plan went out the window exactly two days after I arrived on campus. I went to lunch with my best friend Summer and her brother Kevin, who brought along his roommate, Robbie Ellis from Kentucky. We all chatted easily, but when lunch was over, the upperclassman with the big brown eyes suddenly caught my attention. Summer asked Robbie what he wanted to do when he graduated. “I’m going to Peru to be a missionary,” he responded without hesitation. Hmmm, I thought. That’s interesting.


“Do you speak Spanish?” I asked him.


“No. But you’re going to teach me!” he declared with a twinkle in his eye.


I felt my face burn, and I quickly changed the subject. But the deal was sealed. This country boy from Kentucky had called his shot. It was the best pick-up line I’d ever heard; and although I didn’t let on, it had worked like a charm.


After a few months, I realized how much I looked forward to lunch with a group of friends every day, because that’s when I’d see Robbie. He would walk me to my box to check mail afterwards, and we would talk about our day. We were “just friends,” but it was becoming clear that there was more to it.


Every week during college, my dad would write me a letter and close with a list of “Do’s and Don’ts,” his fatherly advice for the week. One week, when I received the letter, Robbie said, “What’s on the list this week?” I had finished reading the main body of the letter, so without glancing at the list I said, “Here, you read them out loud.” He read through the “Do’s” and then chuckled when he got to the list of “Don’ts.”


“What is it?” I asked. There in black and white was Don’t #3: “Don’t get stuck on Robbie like a band-aid. Date around.” Oops.


“Well, I guess I wasn’t supposed to let you read the list this week!” I said with an embarrassed laugh.


Later that night, I was still cringing, thinking of Robbie reading that particular piece of candid advice. I pulled a 3x5 card out of my desk drawer and wrote him a quick note to send with that evening’s campus mail.


“Dear Robbie,
It’s too late.
Christine”


I then found a band-aid, attached it with great flair, and sent the note, giggling and briefly wondering if it was too forward of me. Almost as soon as I got back to my room, I began to feel sick to my stomach. I shouldn’t have said that! That’s way too bold! How can I get it back? I wondered what on earth had possessed me to write such a message. It was very uncharacteristic of me to express my feelings that openly to him. I had been very tight-lipped up until this point. I watched the clock and imagined him getting my note, shock on his face. He would be appalled by my candid confession and wonder why in the world he had ever considered me ladylike.
I was so busy worrying that I almost didn’t hear the mail slip under the door. I was surprised to see a small envelope with my name on it. The last mail I'll ever get from Robbie Ellis, to be sure. He had written it hours before getting mine...






That Robbie Ellis sure knows how to call his shots! Eleven years, thousands of miles, and many Spanish tutoring sessions later, I’m still stuck on him like a Band-aid and having the time of my life!
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6 Responses
  1. Kathy Says:

    You're right! That was a new side of your romance to me! Christine, you know how to tell a story with a great hook. Those English classes are also bearing fruit in your blog writing.

    Now I'll have the stupid Band-aid jingle in my head all day: "I am stuck on Band-aids 'cause Band-aid's stuck on me!"

    Love you,
    Aunt Kathy


  2. Anne Says:

    That's awesome! Wow.


  3. What a sweet, wonderful story,Christine! Thanks for sharing!


  4. Becky Bryant Says:

    Cute! We have 400 letters and cards between Fiji and USA. I have 75 emergency love notes made out of 3x 5 cards with the cutest sayings. Treasure your notes!


  5. That was so sweet it brought tears to my eyes! Jason and I celebrate 10 years of marriage this year and your story reminded me of all the short notes and comments we exchanged in college! Time sure does fly when you're loving life! Love you and Robbie and pray regularly for your family.


  6. Kimberly Grainger Says:

    That's really stinkin' cool! It reminds me of John's uber-romantic wooing of me (and my eager reciprocation!!). How sweet!
    After we'd been married a few years, John assimilated the notes into a giant scrapbook. Aren't we blessed with such aMAZing men?!
    Love you, cous'!


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