Do you know the Alanis Morissette song, 21 things? It’s a guitar led and gritty song about all the things she wants in a lover. The list isn’t entirely G rated so don’t download it. It might disturb you. The point however is not the merits of this rock song, it is that I had a list like this too.
In 1989 I decided that living with Phil Anderson, even though we were best friends, was not cool anymore. We lived on the fourth floor of Hua Mark Condominiums, just across the street from Ramkamhaeng University in Bangkok. Phil had this habit of blowing his nose in the shower between yodeling and doing bird-calls. Every morning. Really. It drove me nuts.
He was also a large he, not a lithe she. He liked to eat Turian. I describe Turian, the fruit many Asians refer to as “the king of fruits”, as a cross between decomposing garlic and dirty athletic socks with a suspiciously urine hue to it. How much better would it be to wake up with Meg Ryan next to me than waking up to Phil with his Turian breath and bird calls? So I started hunting for Meg.
Until then, I was on a girl moratorium. That’s right, no looking, no playing, no hanky panky. I was a Christian now and I wanted to know God. Get to know Him, not her. Read about Him, not her. Think about Him, not her. So I prayed, fasted, and did everything I could do to get closer to Him. But Phil was the straw that broke the camels back. I was 20 and started thinking, just occasionally (like every 60 seconds) about sleeping in a room with someone other than Phil.
I went away for a week to pray and fast at a retreat center called The Juniper Tree. My project was to seek God and get His advice on who I should look for. As I prayed a list took shape in my journal. I took the list as gospel for Steve Gumaer. This was a God breathed and inspired list, it was my guide for selection. The list for me was like the 1611 KJV bible for KJV only Baptists. According to me, having gained inspiration from God on this, my prospective bride had to possess the following qualities:
1. She had to like books. Not crap romance novels but real stuff like CS Lewis and Francis Schaeffer.
2. She had to be a runner and have a runners body. (God and I were very intense about this point.)
3. Music had to matter to her. If she didn’t like Van Morrison, she wasn’t the girl.
4. She couldn’t be too petite or high maintenance. God wanted me to have a tough girl who could live through bouts of malaria, dysentery, and yellow fever while reaching out to tribes beyond today’s missionary reach –while having babies.
5. She couldn’t be fat or have fat genes. Period. To test this God wanted me to meet the prospective mates mother. If the mom was large, the daughter was out of the question.
6. She had to be dedicated to following God, no matter where He led us.
7. She had to be able to discuss opinions and world events intelligently.
8. Her family can’t have divorce in their recent history.
9. She had to turn me on. No slow burn stuff, she had to immediately produce the right sort of anxiety in me.
10. She had to be American.
11. She had to want to live primitive and hard-core for the rest of her life.
Remember that at this time I was still dressing like a 50 year old, wearing aviator glasses (they weren’t cool back then), and dressing in either grey or baby blue button up shirt-sleeves. The exception of course was the very stylish madras cotton ones, colored like a rainbow, reserved for special occasions. I wasn’t exactly Meg Ryan material.
There were more items on my list, probably 21 of them, but I can’t remember them all anymore. From that retreat at the Juniper Tree until just a few months later, every single girl I met was subjected to the list. I was on the hunt (Lynard Skynard, couldn’t resist). I was ridiculous.
The girl I met, romanced, and married 21 years ago was all but two things on my list. I am glad I compromised.