As George McFly once cooed to his future wife, Lorraine, in Back to the Future, “I’m your density. I mean, your destiny.”
While McFly was short on being smooth, he had the right idea. Finding the right woman has little to do with charm and lots to do with being dense.
With that, I give you a little taste of the moments, people, and forces of nature that came together to bring me to the brink of the altar.
October 1991: During the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation proceedings, my mother details for me in very colorful language that I should have the utmost respect for women at all times. I learn that she took part in the equal-rights marches of the 1970s, and I begin to gain a greater appreciation for all that women have done to break through the glass ceiling.
August 1994: I am harangued by a 13-year old girl, who makes fun of me for having no muscles. Shamed for having the physical makeup of Danny DeVito, I start looking into using my father’s Soloflex in our family’s basement.
November 1994: Being a recently converted gym rat, I’m approached by the captain of our wrestling team, who mentions they’re holding tryouts. Not only does this begin four years of mild anorexia, but the captain tells me about this very cool college he’ll be attending in the fall named George Washington University.
May 1998: Having already sent in my deposit check to another university, I’m surprised to find a message on our home answering machine from the admissions office at GW stating, “Hi, Carl, we have a spot for you open in our class of 2002. Please give us a call back in the next 24 hours if you’re interested in coming to GW.” I’m one of five students to get in off the wait list.
August 1998: I’m hoping to leave my college dorm room before my new roommates arrive to avoid having to help them move in on one of the hottest days of the year. I open the door to find John W., my future best man, and his family standing in front of me—all holding large boxes. At some point in the next 15 minutes, I’m carrying a microwave, a TV, and a trunk of clothes up four flights of stairs.
September 1998: John W. convinces me to join a fraternity with him. While this is a significant event in leading me down the path to meeting Kristin, it’s also a seminal moment in the evolution of my vocabulary, as I start a four-year run of using “Dude!” to begin all sentences.
September 1999: While he’s doing an impersonation of Samuel L. Jackson from Pulp Fiction, I meet Jon G., one of my future groomsmen, during a fraternity rush event.
January 2004: Jon G. calls me at me at the nonprofit where I’m working to let me know that his boss needs me to provide him with some information regarding the World Wrestling Federation, a client of his at the Corporate Executive Board. Moments later, I’m on the phone with Jon’s boss, embarrassingly but energetically explaining the depths of my knowledge of professional wrestling. One month later, I’m hired at CEB.
June 2007: Kristin Franke moves into the office next to mine. She’s hot. Like, she makes you nervous she’s so hot. She’s also dating a guy who likes to go mountain climbing and bouldering. I think hiking involves walking more than five blocks to a bar.
December 2007: John W. calls me from the Hillary Clinton presidential-campaign headquarters in New Hampshire. “Dude, it’s getting close,” he says. “Want to help?”
January 2008: I’m scampering through snowy front yards at 4:30 AM the day of the primary to leave “door knockers” on people’s porches. Hillary wins by three points. Upon my return to DC, Kristin, a women’s-studies graduate from the University of Maryland, stops by my office because she heard I’d been working for Clinton. She’s impressed with the crucial role I played in Hillary’s victory.
June 2008: Armed with some inside information that she might be interested in me, I ask Kristin if she’d like to go out sometime. Her response: “I’m cool with that.”
October 2008: My mother meets Kristin, pulls me aside, and says, “She’s wonderful. Don’t [expletive] this up.”
July 2009: Darth Vader comes down from the planet Vulcan and tells me that if I don’t marry Kristin, he’s going to melt my brain.
April 2010: I fill out the final “single” tax return of my life. And with less than 60 days to go, I can see my density.