Fredrick and Elizabeth’s first encounter was in Chicago in the winter of ‘88, at Newbury Medical Center’s maternity ward, when Fredrick’s father mistakenly pointed out Elizabeth as his son. His best friend Robert reciprocally pointed out "that baby is a girl", and that Fredrick Sr. had had a lot to drink. This was the beginning of Fredrick Sr.'s "stating the obvious is funny" phase. And though, in reality, there was no comedy, they both laughed over it.

The second was the first day of third grade, when Fredrick’s mother escorted him onto the wrong bus, and he ended up at the school across town. While waiting in the office for his mother to pick him up, Elizabeth came in to see the principal on account of the fact that she called another girl an “ugly twit”, and her teacher “had no time for such shenanigans on the very first day of school”. Elizabeth informed Fredrick of this and he laughed. Every time after this that he heard the word "twit" he felt compelled to repeat it.

The third was prom at Elizabeth’s high school, when Angela Sachs, the school’s resident wheelchair girl couldn’t get a date, so she asked a boy from her church to go with her. That boy was Fredrick. Elizabeth came with Jeremy Fischer, the linebacker from the school football team. Fredrick caught her spiking the punch and was the second to partake. Elizabeth had offered him a cup, and after he declined, she threatened to flash her boobs to the whole school if he didn’t drink it. Fredrick could not allow a girl to degrade herself that way, so he downed the whole drink while she watched. She laughed at him then made him drink more. Elizabeth lost her virginity that night, but not to Jeremy. Or Fredrick.

The fourth was in Rome where Fredrick was studying Classics and religion. Elizabeth was taking the semester off and vacationing at her aunt’s in Florence. They accidentally backed into each other while staring at the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Fredrick recognized Elizabeth and they ended up sharing a bottle of wine, which Elizabeth’s Italian plaything, Fernando bought for the three of them at a local bar. Fernando told a joke in English, but switch the first part and the punchline. They both knew the joke and decided to "ha-ha" laugh anyway.

The fifth was in Fredrick’s dream, or nightmare, rather, where he was sadistically chopping Jesus’s fingers off one by one, until he looked up and saw Elizabeth. The look of sheer horror on her face startled him awake. He laughed at the fact that Jesus was in his dream. He needed a vacation.

The sixth was at the presidential inauguration ceremony in 2009. Elizabeth saw Fredrick on the big screen and realized he wasn’t far off. So she abandoned her friends and found him near the southeast corner of the mall. She grabbed his hand and poked his forehead with her mitten-covered finger like she’d known him forever. Fredrick was surprised, but didn’t say anything. A recording of a violin played a sad melody that hovered over the crowd. Fredrick and Elizabeth's teeth chattered in the cold as they smiled about it.


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