Apparently, telling the story of how you met your significant is the ultimate way to show love on Valentine's this year. I thought this year we were showing pictures of how long our child’s hair had grown as a symbol of how our low never stops growing and never stops changing. Oh well, I guess that can wait.
It’s actually a pretty funny story of how Cait and I met. It was a few years after the war and a few years before the Keebler elf came out as gay (it was a surprise to us as well). I had just recovered from minor brain surgery to fix a minor defect which caused me to see everyone with the name of George as ferocious man-eating penguin. It had bothered me for some years, but because George is no longer a popular name, I had put off getting it fixed until I could afford the surgery (my insurance refused to cover penguin surgery). Luckily, I won a very small lottery several months earlier that gave me the exact amount I needed for the surgery.
Anyway, so I was just recovering from surgery and I decided to do something to mark my return to a non-man-eating-peguin life. So what I decided to do was hike Penguin Peak (which as everyone knows is the most difficult climb in the bottom third of the southern hemisphere). It was a beautiful day, just after dawn when I began my hike. I received a lot of help and supplies from the friendly penguins along the way (who have developed a communal atmosphere with hikers of Penguin Peak in exchange for Kudos bars, which they love) and the hike had begun beautifully.
Unfortunately, I was not as recovered from my surgery as I had supposed, and by the time I neared the top of the peak, I was nearly delusional with exhaustion and exertion. Of course, if there were penguins around, they probably would have been more than happy to help, but the penguins near Penguin Peak rarely venture up anywhere near the peak, because most hikers expend all of their Kudos bars well before reaching the top.
By the time I reached the top, I was full delusional and seeing all sorts of weird things, like flying pistachios and hula dancers mustachioed. But, strangest of all, I saw approaching me from the opposite side of the mountain the most beautiful girl I had ever laid eyes on, with flowing red hair, which glowed in the light of the setting sun, like some near-flamming cascading halo. I knew this was impossible, because on the other side of Penguin Peak was universally considered to be completely unclimbable, with many of the best climbers in the world trying and failing to scale that path up the mountain.
However, in the moment, I was so exhausted and so delusional that I used the little remaining strength I had to collapse into the embrace of the woman, and knowing her to be only an illusion, I decided I should at least spend my final moments trying to kiss this apparition of other-worldly beauty. To my never-ceasing surprise, the apparition kissed me back.
Here is a picture we captured of that very instant:
The crazy thing about this picture is that, in order to capture it, I had scaled a nearby (but much less difficult) mountain, before dawn, and set up my camera there to capture the moment of my reaching the top of Penguin Peak. Luckily my camera had a 12.5 hour timer, which coincided with sunset and what I hoped would be my arrival at the top of the Penguin Peak. In what I consider an act of divine intervention, the camera’s timer ran out just at the moment of Caitlin and my first kiss. Seriously.
We stayed like this for several moments before my strength utterly gave out and my knees buckled. The last thing I remember of that moment was my fall being stopped by a pair of gentle but strong arms. Caitlin carried me down the mountain, in the growing dark of night, far enough for the penguins to see our need and carry me down the rest of the way (this I all learned later from Cait, of course, because I was passed out at the time). I woke up just in time to snap this picture with my backup camera (I would hike back up the neighboring peak months later to retrieve my original camera) of Caitlin talking to the penguin chief, thanking them for their help. Her hair might look black in this picture, but that is only because of the tricky fog that perpetually covers Penguin Plain, which of course surrounds the base of Penguin Peak.
The rest, as they say, is history. We returned just under a year later to break through the ice of Penguin Bay at the foot of Penguin Peak, where, submerged in that beautiful but chilly water, we held our now-famous undersea wedding. Cait's hair might look brown in this picture and I might look slightly muscular, but that is only the tricky light under the water of Penguin Bay.
We return to the site every year bearing loads of Kudos bars for the penguins. Our kids love it. True story.
Actual story: We met at BYU where, encouraged by social norms there, we married much too soon after our first meeting. However, we are just as happy and attached to each other as if this had been the story of how we met.
If any of the above pictures are your pictures, let us know and we will take them down and bake you a plate of cookies next time you are in Madison. Thanks for stopping in.