Fate is said to be a fickle, sometimes cruel, entity that can either make or break us. Fortunately, it was on my side when it counted most. This is the unorthodox story of how I fell in love.
My name is Yulia Wilson, and I’m 25 years old. You might be wondering if I’m Russian. I can say with a certainty that I am not. I’m predominately Swedish with a pinch of German. My parents have an inexplicable affinity for the Russian culture, however, so they named me and my two sisters, Anastasia and Viktoria, accordingly.
Growing up, my teachers tended to assume that I was of Russian heritage due to not only my name, but also because of my pale complexion, light blonde hair, and blue eyes. Occasionally, strangers would stop me on the street and ask for directions in a foreign language. More often than not, that foreign language was Russian. Finding the encounters stressful and awkward, I started pretending I was deaf and began gesticulating wildly whenever anyone approached me on the street.
Then, after a great deal of pressure from my loving parents, I enrolled in Russian 1010 my freshman year of college. Two weeks later, after a tough heart-to-heart with myself in the bathroom mirror, I dropped the class. That language is ridiculously difficult, and I had enough on my plate. My parents would have to live with the disappointment.
I graduated with my associates and began working at a library. People always told me that, while I was smart in my own way, I lacked common sense and was a bit naive. Due to these hurtful comments, combined with my love of books, a career as a librarian seemed ideal. Besides, shushing people had always seemed fun.
It was an unusually hot summer morning when an extraordinary series of events began. Per my workday routine, I stopped at a burrito stand during my walk to the library. Now, this wasn’t any regular burrito stand. This place hand-made the most delicious breakfast burritos anyone with taste buds would ever have the pleasure of consuming. The ratio of tender baked potato to gooey cheese to crisp bacon was otherworldly. If I could only eat one thing for the rest of my life, those burritos would be it.
As I was standing in line for my daily dose of happiness, a gruff cough came from close behind. I shuffled forward a bit. I hate bodily functions of any kind, coughs particularly included. The stranger came even closer as I moved away. I cautiously glanced backward. The middle-aged, gruff, bearded man placed a heavily tattooed hand on my shoulder.
“It’s a fine day to feast on bones,” he coarsely whispered in a thick, Russian accent. His breath brushed across my ear.
Every single hair on my body now standing on end, I remained frozen in confusion and fear. I looked around for a hidden camera, just in case I was on a prank show, but didn’t spot any. With an accomplished nod, the Russian man let go of my shoulder, and I slowly turned around to face the burrito stand. I placed my order, grabbed my burrito, and made my way to work. I shook off the awkward encounter and thought nothing of it. . . until a few hours later.
After my lunch break, the manager asked me to catalog new books. I went to the back room and sat down at the lonely computer. As I double-clicked on the catalog software, my screen suddenly began flashing in a distinct pattern.
“Is this another virus?” I mumbled.
My senior coworker, Marge, made a habit of falling for malware protection scams. I’d asked my boss several times to ban her from the computers, but alas, no battles had been won thus far.
After the flashing ceased, an image popped onto the screen along with some foreign writing. The picture was of a young man, approximately my age.
“Woah,” I couldn’t help but gasp aloud.
This guy was. . . gorgeous. He had cobalt hair, dark brown eyes, an olive complexion, and a jawline that could cut glass. My own jaw dropped for a good thirty seconds before I took notice of the writing around the picture. I didn’t understand any of the foreign symbols. However, my exceptionally brief stint in Russian 1010 told me at which language I was looking.
“Wait a second,” I said slowly, my eyes drifting toward the bottom of the page. In bold red, a handful of English letters were written: “It’s a fine day to feast on bones.”
I sat back in my chair for a moment, considering this phrase the man at the burrito stand had whispered. Suddenly, an explanation rocketed into my brain. Of course! The internet was notoriously good at gathering personal data. It must have known that I was desperately lonely and searching for love.
The only relationship I’d ever had took place during my second year of college. In the end, my boyfriend had only been dating me to get closer to my stunning friend. I received their wedding invitation last month. Ever since then, I’d signed on for every dating site I could find. Between my internet search history and my very Russian first name, it was no wonder that this was happening.
The man from that morning was probably the owner of the small Russian dating website out canvassing the neighborhood. The odd line he whispered must have been his quirky, poorly translated slogan. After all, the man I was looking at was a feast for the eyes. Maybe that’s what he’d been trying to say. This was all adding up to a good-natured, earnest company trying to assist lonely people find love.
“If only I could read Russian,” I remarked disappointedly as I began randomly clicking, hoping a hidden link would take me to a homepage.
Instead, the page disappeared without a trace. Seconds later, the computer started sparking and smoking. I hurriedly ran to the nearest fire extinguisher, tried for a few panicked minutes to remove it from the case, and ended up getting doused by the overhead sprinklers after the smoke detector triggered. I was told to go home early that day.
As I tossed and turned that night, I ruminated upon the handsome stranger. I sincerely hoped he wasn’t the company’s hot model used to lure in desperate women such as myself. Maybe, just maybe, he really was single and ready to mingle. . . with me . . . ‘til death do us part.
The next morning, as I stood in line for my burrito, I heard a familiar grunt come from behind. I turned and looked at the Russian. In his hands, held very closely to my face, was a photograph.
“It’s a fine day to feast on bones,” he said, carefully enunciating each word.
I nodded and looked at the picture, recognizing the snack of a man I’d seen on my computer the day before.
“You know, yes?” the man asked choppily.
“Uh, yes. I know,” I answered. Who could possibly forget a quality looking man like that?
Before I could ask any questions, the Russian turned and made his way into the bustling morning crowd. There wouldn’t be any conceivable way to find him now. I grabbed my burrito and walked to work. Meanwhile, I pondered that the owner of the dating site had a lot of initiative, yet he could potentially benefit from some marketing classes.
The rest of my day was uneventful. No computers blew up, nor did any handsome men grace my desktop. However, my entire life changed the next day.
I rubbed the sleep from my eyes as I looked at the empty curb where the burrito stand normally sat. That can’t be right, I thought. In its place, a sign was erected. It read: “Bombastic Burritos moved. We ask you please go to place where business now,” followed by the address. I shrugged my shoulders and began walking toward the new location, meanwhile rehearsing how I would offer up my proof-reading services to the staff when I next ordered.
I wound my way down the streets until I arrived at the new address. However, instead of a burrito stand, I found a gym. Intrigued and confused, I cautiously entered. I quickly scanned the interior before stopping dead in my tracks. It was him. He was here. He existed and he was here.
“You!” I nearly screeched.
The man from the dating site photo looked up from helping a middle-aged woman properly execute squats. He scanned my short, scrawny physique before approaching. I’d never experienced asthma before; however, I can only assume I needed an inhaler because he took my breath away.
“Hello, miss. Can I assist you with something?” the perfectly sculpted man asked, his tone gentle yet deep.
“Uh,” I replied, still shocked at the coincidence of it all.
“Oh, are you here to sign up? Perhaps you’ve heard of our discounted new-comer rate?” he asked.
“Yes,” I managed to croak out.
Fifteen minutes and a gym membership later, I began walking toward the door. As I reached for the door handle, I stopped short. NO! I thought. Fate didn’t hand me this chance for me to throw it away.
“Dinner,” I said, turning around. The man looked my way, a little surprised.
“Dinner?” he asked, smiling in a way that melted my very soul.
“Dinner. With me. Tomorrow?” I asked him in the most awkward way possible.
“Yeah, that sounds like fun,” the fitness instructor replied, blushing a bit. Shocked that he both agreed and seemed flattered, my confidence boosted.
“Great! What’s your name?” I inquired, the corners of my own mouth lifting.
“I’m Chris. And what’s yours?” he responded.
“I’m Yulia Wilson.” A strange expression flickered across Chris’s face as I spoke. “What kind of food do you like, Chris?” I desperately hoped that the momentary guarded look he wore was a mere coincidence.
His charming smile returned, and we chatted about foods we enjoyed and disliked. Amidst the discussion, I recalled the “feasting on bones” slogan and proposed we eat steak. It was all thanks to those Russian dating pros that I even got this date, so why not pay them homage in the only way I could?
Chris quickly agreed to my steak proposal, and we settled on a time and restaurant at which to meet. As I opened the door to leave, a thought suddenly popped into my head. I turned to look at my date one last time.
“Weird question, but is this gym going to be remodeled into a burrito restaurant anytime soon?” I asked. Chris looked at me speechlessly before chuckling.
“Uh, no, not that I’m aware,” he replied.
I, as puzzled as he, too, most likely was, gave one final wave and left. All the way to work, I giggled and skipped, imagining what the date the next night might be like. I was so excited that, even after I was lectured by my manager about being late to work, I only cried for fifteen minutes instead of my usual forty-five.
The rest of the day consisted of work, makeup tutorials, and trying on different outfits. At last, I crashed onto my bed, hoping desperately that sleep would take me before too long. I already had eye bag issues, and a poor night of sleep would only worsen things. Fortunately, the excitement of the day faded into peaceful dreams.
The next morning, I went to the old location of the burrito stand out of habit. Oddly enough, it had returned. I shrugged off the strangeness of it all and took my place in line. Before the grunt even sounded, I looked behind me. Sure enough, the tattooed Russian man was nearby.
“Target. Will he be taken care of?” he asked in a hoarse whisper.
Of course! I had been the one to ask Chris out. I didn’t know how the Russian dating guy knew that, but he had a valid point. The person asking should be the one to pay. It was basic etiquette. I did my best to keep my cheesy smile from growing too large and nodded.
“Oh yes, I’ll be sure to take care of him,” I whispered back, a suppressed giggle escaping my lips.
The man nodded. It may have been my brain playing tricks, but I thought I saw a hint of terror in his eyes as he turned to leave. That would be weird, though, so I probably imagined it.
The day passed slowly until it was time for me to rush home and prepare for my date. I painstakingly applied my makeup and zipped up the cocktail dress that I’d never had occasion to wear. I arrived at the steakhouse at the designated time and found Chris already waiting.
When I came into view, I heard his breath catch. Shocked, yet pleased, that he would have such a reaction, I took a moment to examine him as well. He appeared quite dapper in a black sports coat, pinstripe dress shirt, and slacks. We were quickly seated and the date began. I won’t go into the details, but I will say there wasn’t a dull moment.
I had so many questions to ask, and he wanted to know all about me as well. The more we spoke, the more we discovered our similar tastes, hobbies, and viewpoints. As the date came to a close, it was Chris who asked to see me again. Completely thrilled, of course, I agreed.
It was a holiday weekend, so I didn’t visit the burrito stand for several days. However, the hole in my heart left by a lack of delicious breakfast food was filled by my growing affection for Chris. On our third date, when he invited me to eat dinner at his house, Chris asked me why I wandered into the gym and asked him out. He admitted to a growing suspicion that I hadn’t actually been there for the membership.
I regaled the entire story of the mysterious Russian dating site and its hardworking, all-knowing owner. When I finished, Chris’s face was clouded. When I asked him what was wrong, he waved his hand and said it was nothing. However, when I was getting into my car that night to go home, he requested a couple of days to get things sorted out before we saw each other again. I defeatedly nodded and drove away.
It was fun while it lasted, I thought as tears ran down my face. I’d been let down easy before. This felt all too familiar.
I called in sick the next two days. I felt so silly. It had only been a three-date romance, but I’d become so hopeful. Chris had been kind, handsome, intelligent, and interested in me. Now, I was back to being a lonely bachelorette.
As I scrolled through the local cat shelter adoption page before work on my third day of melancholy, Chris’s name popped onto the screen as the phone rang. Butterflies raging in my stomach, I answered.
“Yulia? Can you come to my place tonight? I know I didn’t really explain everything to you. . . maybe someday I can. Anyway, everything should be settled soon, and I’d like to see you. I’ll make dinner if you agree,” his voice came through the phone, as gentle and kind as ever.
“That sounds really nice,” I couldn’t help but smile. I didn’t know what was going on, but for some reason I trusted him.
I parked my car in front of his house that night, a few minutes before our agreed meeting time. After taking some deep breaths, I got out. As I skipped up the sidewalk to his front door, it opened. It was dark outside, but I still managed to recognize the Russian man who I’d met in the burrito line all those times. I excitedly ran to Chris, who was ushering him outside.
“Chris! This is the man! This is my Russian Cupid!” I giggled while approaching.
“Is that right? What a coincidence,” Chris replied, his eyes never deviating from the man in front of him. “Well, he needs to be getting home now, don’t you?”
The Russian man nodded and began walking slowly toward the street. It was hard to tell because of the low lighting, but I thought perhaps he was limping.
Too excited to see Chris to think about it any further, I hurried to his side as he welcomed me inside. As I went to sit on the couch, I spotted something peculiar on the floor.
“Uh, Chris? Is this. . . a human tooth?” I asked nervously as I bent down to inspect it. Chris rushed over and grabbed it.
“Your Russian Cupid explained earlier that his daughter recently lost a tooth. He’s the acting ‘tooth fairy’ in his household. He must have lost it. I’ll go run it out to him,” Chris explained. I stayed by the open door as he ran the tooth to the foreigner.
“Be careful. You wouldn’t want to lose any more of these, would you?” Chris asked with a tight-lipped smile. The Russian shook his head, took the tooth, and staggered away.
When Chris returned, he brought me into a tight embrace. Surprised, I hugged him back.
“Is everything okay?” I asked, feeling a bit uneasy for some reason.
“Yes. Nothing will be in our way now,” Chris whispered reassuringly. I smiled and hugged him a little tighter.
It’s been eight months since that day. Chris proposed to me last week, and I couldn’t be happier. He recently confided in me that he’s actually not a fitness trainer. That was a front. It turns out that he’s a spy for the U.S. government, and he spent a lot of time stationed in Russia. Talk about a funny coincidence! Oh well. All is well that ends well!