Steve Martin introduced my fiancé and me. Yes, our minds and hearts and hands united thanks to that wild and crazy guy. On the fine spring day which heralds our story’s first chapter, the arrow through his head was cupid’s, the reflective words of his autobiography dripping not with “affection for the war years,” but aphrodisiacal syrup. Not the resistant father of the bride, but the encouraging hero of amour, Steve played his role with all the grace and charm of his imagined Lacey – minus the art scandal.
But more on that later.
Noah and I met in winter of 2015. He was miserable and fresh out of Washington state, I was newly promoted and feeling hugely plucky. New hires were to be my ducklings, so I was one of the very first to meet Noah and the four other new folks on their inaugural day in Startup Land. Tall, rail thin, and coiffed, he was striking – a perfect Tim Burton illustration, animated death. He was grave-silent, too, but for a few early morning conversations. He emailed me a picture of his cats.
He claims to have had a flash of premonition upon meeting me, which made me laugh and admit the same when he confessed it. But there’s much to tell between that initial spark and falling in love, so let’s rewind to our comedic courtship.
Startups are interesting places, and while I have one to thank for my work experience, the experience was decreasing in value around spring of 2015. And once I realized that I could not in good conscience recommend the company’s work to a relative, I began seriously rethinking my Sitz im Leben.
One path that rethinking took was down Performance Lane. Acting and singing were two of my dedicated activities of choice growing up, and I thought that perhaps I missed the stage. I was also interested in exercising my pen. Who knew? Perhaps I’d ink the next great comedic television show or novel.
Enter Steve, stage left. I zealously consumed Born Standing Up, his autobiography of life as a stand-up comic. He fascinated me, and reading about his experiences expanded his presence in my brain into three dimensions. Before that book, I thought of him as the manic Father of the Bride or cut-up swindler Freddie in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. He was the goof whose movies made my dad laugh.
Turns out, he’s a wildly well-written art lover with an education in philosophy and an even greater one in The World. He fascinated me, and at that time, more than anything, I wanted more Steve.
Enter Noah, stage right. Apparently he’d caught me buried in Born Standing Up and was thrilled to have an excuse to strike up a conversation with me. And strike he did, via G-chat one spring morning. He said he’d noticed my book and was in possession of Steve’s two novellas, and would I maybe like to borrow them sometime?
Not long after, the novellas appeared on my desk aside a hand-drawn ice cream cone and a short, sweet note. I never finished the second novella, The Pleasure of My Company, but then again, what piece of writing could possibly command your attention if you’ve just finished a work that reached right into your brain and repaired a necessary wire that had been on the fritz?
Such was my experience of Shopgirl. I loved everything about the book – its omniscient narrator, its protagonist, its tone and imagery and storyline. Though Mirabelle, the central figure, and I have our stark differences, I recognized many similarities to my headspace at the time. Thus, her story had a slightly mirroring effect – it was if I was reading about an alternate me in some alternate universe. It was cathartic, therapeutic, revelatory. Noah loves this book? Noah understands all of this? There could be a profound connection there. It couldn’t be helped: a flame of interest in Mr. Nofz sparked to life.
That flame reached the blaze of a full-on roaring bonfire following his next recommendations, including but not limited to Steve’s wonderful art world novel An Object of Beauty. As spring rounded into summer, and summer into fall, Noah and I were exchanging email-letters that touched on every conceivable facet of our individual interests. Gobsmacked by similarities and captured by pretty prose, falling in love with Noah was as inevitable as it was wonderful.
If I haven’t already made this clear, as a couple, the two of us do things differently. In-person conversation didn’t commence until after we were hopelessly in love with each other, and our first date was to a controversial museum exhibit of plasticized human bodies, after which he gifted me the film version of one of my favorite musicals, a story of two lovers trapped in a department store who are killed and fashioned into mannequins following their attempt at escape. And once we started seeing each other in person, we simply could not stop. In short order, we hiked around the city, scaled a granite dome, climbed a famed Austin peak, traipsed around a graveyard, lay out on the presidential library’s lawn, and made some truly ambitious meals. Thus, it should come as no surprise that when I invited Noah to move to New York with me, this invitation was presented in the form of a lengthy hand-written letter, penned on my transatlantic flight back from Stockholm. He said yes.
In October, we hopped a plane up north to scope out our future stomping grounds. One evening, while sharing a pizza and a pitcher of Brooklyn lager, we proposed marriage. There was no ring or big, romantic speech – instead, there was a riveting discussion of the very philosophy of marriage – but when dinner was done, we were an engaged couple.
Now, only two months and change from our wedding date, I’m feeling extra fond of those early Austin days and equally excited for those as-yet-unlived future ones. I don’t quite know where we’ll be or what exactly we’ll be doing, but I am sure that there will be adventure, letters, and grand, sweeping, moonlit love. And books. Mountains of them. And at the top of the mountain, we’ll stack our copies of Shopgirl and Pure Drivel, The Pleasure of My Company and Cruel Shoes, Born Standing Up and An Object of Beauty.
Thanks for introducing us, Steve. I know we’ve never technically met, but I feel connected to you and thus comfortable asking you this question.
“What time is it?”