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Meg Cooch, LLP


"Grandma, hey, it's your grandson Justin."

"Oh, hi Justin!!  How ya doin'?"

"Good, Grandma, good...hey, I'm calling because I have good news: I got engaged last week!"

[audible sound of breath being taken away]

"You did!  Oh, that's great!  Well, you listen, you take care now, you hear?" (All of my calls to Grandma end this way, even when I get engaged.)

Grandma's reaction was not much different than other family folks who I talked to, mainly because I don't talk to some parts of the family as much as others, but I think that this reaction is also common because I had told a ton of people over the years that--much to their disbelief--I really was okay going through life alone if it came down to that.  I never felt rushed into a decision to marry, even as (literally) scores of personal friends tied the knot over the last ten years.  At times, I have been frustrated by even light pressure put on by family and friends who have made the decision that because marriage was right for them, it should be right for everyone; hey, c'mon, everyone's different, right?  While I was excited about the possibility of a life partnership if I found someone who I felt was as strong a match for me as I was for them, I wasn't making that my life's pursuit.

Which is maybe why Margaret Emily Cooch came along at just the right time...which is to say, no particular time at all.

I've known Meg (I know, she should be Margie, Marge or Peggy--hehehe--but she insists upon Meg, which makes others call her Megan by mistake, which drives her even further into insanity and me into howling fits of laughter) for more than six years now.  What's important to note here is that while I met Meg through friends, I had NEVER considered dating her because she was dating someone who at the time I had full respect for and had no inclination that later she could be a potential mate.  What's also important here is that while I met Meg through others and that at least a few people have already taken credit for my future union with this woman, I'm here today for one simple reason--I called Meg every couple of months for four years just to check in, see how she was doing, and generally build a friendship, because to be honest, Meg and I weren't really friends who talked with any regularity until about 15 months ago.

That's right!  Like most of my friendships, I utilized the power of phone persuasion to keep Meg in the mix, because Meg would literally not return calls for months at a time.  Like a stubborn old bastard, I would call Meg again after a couple of months if she hadn't called me back; I would call Meg when I was in Boston (where she lived for a couple of years) just to say hello and see if she had time for coffee; I would invite Meg to dinner in DC if she was ever home visiting her family in Annandale.  Wasn't hitting on the girl, wasn't looking for anything more than conversation (at which Meg is quite good), wasn't prowling on any of her friends.  Things started to change a bit last summer, when Meg and I had a couple of long phone conversations about life, love, blah blah; we had drinks last Labor Day weekend, after which time I think we both thought the, ahem, "dynamic" had changed; and then, we hung out last October in San Francisco, and from there, the rest is history.

Given what many of you know about my dating habits, you'll be surprised to know that from essentially our first weekend together, I knew with about 75% certainty that Meg was The One (like Neo, but with less ability to break out the roundhouse).  The only thing I really needed to see was how our second weekend was together, to validate that it was Real.  When that went off with flying colors, I had already started to draw up a long-term contract with this girl; having gotten to know Meg a bit more over the summer and early fall of '06, I already thought that Meg was the kind of person with whom I could envision a life of love and happiness.  No joke--Meg and I talked about getting married after just two months of dating, but in order to make sure we didn't scare both our families and our close friends, we didn't tell anyone that until we got engaged in August '07.

But, what would any woman do to make me say that this lovely run of The Bachelor Pad Lifestyle should be over?  It's sounds almost cliché, but in a world where I know some incredibly stellar ladies Meg truly is the Package Deal.  In no particular order, some things that I love about Meg (besides, well, everything):

  • Meg is incredibly intelligent.  Meg doesn't want to tell you where she got her masters, but if she did tell you, she would say it using some of the biggest, nastiest, hardest, most out-of-the-blue words I have ever heard.  If forced to choose between the Webster's Thesaurus or Meg, I would go with Meg almost every time.  Meg also has the most stunning recall I think I have ever seen, except when it comes to famous actors in major motion pictures, which is funnier when you see her do it just after recalling word-for-word conversations you had exactly 74 days, six hours and 14 minutes ago.

  • An energy level unsurpassed by any woman I know.  Meg claims to not realize this, but she literally can't sit still for more than about 30 seconds at a time; she can talk faster than nearly anyone you will meet; and, the girl can CRUSH a 60-hour work week.  But this energy is generally what her friends love about her--she's always up for another chance to hang with her good friends, or listen to their problems, or spend time pursuing interests as varied as reading, the arts, and chili dogs.  Speaking of which,

  • Meg LOVES to eat.  We have spent much time in this space talking about my desire to never marry a vegetarian, so at least we knocked that out right away.  With Meg, she is a self-proclaimed "snacker", so even when her eyes get big she's only ever good to go for a small, maybe a medium, size meal.  But, she will knock down almost any kind of food you can think of.  She's also a wiz in the kitchen--I like to think we are similar in this regard--and, she'll eat at McDonald's or your local five-star ristorante.  I think, during that second weekend together, she talked about how sushi and chili dogs are her two favorite foods, and if that didn't make this love at first sight I don't know what the hell would.

  • A genuine curiosity for things that she doesn't understand.  Some of this must be her curiosity with some of my strange habits, but I think that with Meg, she truly has a interest in soaking up what people do for a living, or what they believe in, or why they think that the burgers at Wendy's are so good.  This curiosity also lends itself to Meg's interest in trying new things, be it visiting new places or eating at different restaurants or getting to know different kinds of people.  Many people I have met pay this lip service, but with Meg I have truly enjoyed watching her make this the real deal.

  • The sexy nerd thing.  Let me be frank--I think of Meg as a cute little nerd.  Having finally embraced that I may not be as cool as I want to believe, I'm very happy to be with someone who truly is a bookworm, because that way, I'm with someone who's exactly what I need.  Meg's got the body and she's in MUCH better shape than I am (that was easy), but that just means she's a good-looking girl who listens to NPR, keeps eight internet browsers open at a time, does "tea" with friends and consumes books faster than you consume air.

  • Meg is very tough-minded.  For a sexy, curious, high-energy nerd, Meg will debate your ass off.  And while she can be the mouse in the corner when it comes to larger social gatherings (even my writing about her embarrasses her to no end), in one-on-one conversations, she'll put up a fight when it comes down to something she believes in.  The only time she has dressed me down in front of others--at least, so far--I made the mistake of talking slightly negatively about something she's into, and that left lash marks all over my face and neck, friends!  When I am not the victim, this is fun to watch, but generally, it's fun to watch someone who stands 5'3" and doesn't exactly have a bellowing voice box calmly break out her opinions for her audience.

  • People really like her.  In some ways, I am kind of embarrassed about this one.  I always wanted to believe, you know, "Forget my friends, man!  I like _____, and my friends will like her eventually because they like me, blah blah blah..." with some people I dated in the past.  It's pretty simple, really--everyone who meets Meg likes Meg.  I know that they're not doing it to be nice to me, they're doing it because they mean it.  They're also doing it because Meg is just really nice to everyone, which is key, because I sometimes have a tendency to not be nice to everyone that I meet, and in the game of checks and balances, this is very, very important.

As great as Meg is in all of these ways and so many others, the reason we are here today as a happily-engaged couple is that we are both so good at the art of communication.  We talk openly about everything, and I mean, everything...and, this has already built a strong, a super-strong, foundation of openness that I always wanted to have in a relationship but maybe never truly embraced until now.  With any long-distance relationship (Meg is still living in San Francisco and plans to move to Washington in January '08), the phone time is vital to success, but we both committed to spending time in person at least every three weeks to build our interpersonal relationship, too.  We've held to that, with many visits coming every other week for a long stretch of time in early to mid 2007.  We've also done a sick amount of travel in just 11 months of dating--in addition to the back-and-forths of San Francisco and DC, we've hit Atlanta, Seattle, Vancouver, Chicago, New York City, Charlottesville, Bethany Beach, Iceland, Playa del Carmen, and upstate New York coming soon.  With so many more destinations to hit, I'm excited to have a travel partner even more excited to see new places than I am.

The other reason why I'm here today--I had the chance to date so many great, great women over the last 15 years and they helped form the version of me that Meg has had the chance to fall in love with over the course of our dating relationship.  Lots of women kicked me to the curb, and I had the chance to punt on fourth down with a ton of other women, too...but, through it all, I kept it friendly and I learned a ton.  A testament to this is just how many women who I dated are still somehow involved in my life or whose weddings I attended or whose children I have had the chance to meet.  Through it all, I took a little something from each relationship, and for that, I want to thank those lovely people who taught me something on the great path to glory. 

And, with that, I must say that I am fired up to begin the next stage of my life.  Now that Meg--amongst her printable nicknames is LLP, for Lovely Life Partner--is primed for a long-term contract, I guess we need to figure out how to make our wedding the biggest blow-out of the modern era!! 


Random Bellviews, courtesy of Bell & Longer Community Trust:

  • Michigan losing at home to some tiny-ass Division I-AA school from North Carolina:  Opening Weekend

  • $119 one-way fares from Dulles to SFO on Virgin America:  $9.50 Show

  • Losing to Wyoming...with the prospect that losing to Duke could mean your coach's job:  Matinee

  • Anything on FOX News:  Rental

  • Watching your dog get the $12 million inheritance while you get squat:  Hard Vice

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09