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  • Writer's pictureerikaraskin

On Our 41st Anniversary: Opposites Laugh

Keith creates to-do lists with little boxes for check marks to be ticked off. I've lost almost every list I've ever written. He plans trips with sightseeing goals and travel contingencies. I don't like to leave home. An anesthesiologist with an electrical engineering degree, he loves building gadgets and adding their updates.

I just want things to work.

Keith grew up on a farm in upstate New York, I grew up in a political family in DC.

We met a few days after I turned 18.

I was unpacking at Columbia after transferring from the University of Wisconsin, where it had been




when the guys across the hall threw a back-to-school lobster party for 50 of their friends/hot girls. Keith was one of the hosts. He'd worked at a restaurant on the Cape and brought the shellfish back with him.

Because we hadn't yet met them my roommates and I weren't invited to the seafood extravaganza. (Though that would have been the, you know, neighborly thing to do). Instead we listened to the debauchery.

For hours.

Rude as that was, the true issue festered over the following days.


It was like 120 degrees and the trash wasn't being collected from the un-air conditioned garbage room next door to our suite. Getting off the elevator on the 11th floor was like walking into a well-stocked aquarium a couple of days after a power outage. It was beyond funky. I'm not sure what I thought it would accomplish but I decided to confront the culinary offenders.

Keith does a (ridiculous) impression of me rapping on their door, him swinging it open, staring into empty space.

He's 6'3, I'm 5'1.

I was not amused, demanding to know what they were going to do about the maggoty mess composting down the hall.

He snorted. Asked what I suggested.

I may have stomped my foot.

We went on a date that night.

Keith (bizarrely) chose Kentucky Fried Movie. It was excruciating. On the way out I explained that only an excursion to a strip bar could have been more unseemly.

We moved in together, (semi) shared household responsibilities. Also, I cut his hair for him. Think Jim Carey in Dumb and Dumber.

(It was a preventative measure.)

We studied differently, he and I. As in, I did, he didn't. He rarely went to class.

Occasionally Keith would accompany me to the library where I'd copy my class notes ad infinitum (a technique that vastly improves informational osmosis--see my TedTalk) and he'd reach over and draw inappropriate marginalia in my binder, causing me to wet my pants in public.

Despite all my note copying, I had to drop statistics. Twice. Keith got into medical school. I may have suggested he sucked.

We married right before my 21st birthday.

Throughout the good times and maybe more importantly, the bad, we have always found the punchlines -- dragging each other over to them when necessary.

When I look back, I'm amazed by our immediate attraction to the foreign in each other. And I'm grateful all over again that I wasn't invited to his stupid party.

He's laughing on the inside.

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Lori Chen
Lori Chen
24. Juni 2021

Thank your making me smile!

You must know that when I read your writing I hear it in my head in your voice!



(I love that you are in a Columbia shirt in both photos. Does Keith only own plaid shirts?)

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