Let Me Count the Ways



Most columns about Valentine’s Day tend to be no more than bitter screeds by jilted lovers and lonely depressives who mock the holiday as a mere corporate revenue scheme and who dismiss love as an illusion that exists only in storybooks and motion pictures. But this column isn’t one of those attempts to portray myself as some tragic Job-like figure in the Book of Love. Rather, I know that true love exists – I have found it in Justin Shanes.

Some may consider it gauche to publish a piece about how great my boyfriend is in his school’s newspaper. But such petty social concerns simply melt away in the face of a love so awesome and so fiery that its very mention would melt the wings of Icarus. You see, as a supermodel I am constantly traveling the globe and often do not have the time to tell Justin how I really feel. Now, thanks to Roger Pao, I finally have that chance.

I guess what I love most about Justin is his humility. He was born eight months premature at a weight of 0 pounds, 2 ounces, but quickly perfected the skill of self-gestation in order to develop fully. Amazingly he almost never mentions this incident, which most doctors heralded as nothing short of a miracle. “The real miracle is getting to wake up to your face,” he would say to me. Such a charmer. Justin’s resume doesn’t even include his membership in Mensa, his mastery of thirteen languages (nineteen if you count dead tongues), or the doctorate in electrical engineering he earned before attending law school (and actually before attending middle school). He claims that there’s not enough room, but I know he’s just being modest.

This is not to say that Justin is perfect by any means. But it’s the flaws that make him so special. I mean, I find it so adorable how he’s so bad at wrapping the diamond jewelry he buys me every week. Or how the sonnets he leaves on my pillow in the morning before leaving for class are sometimes so transparently derivative of Petrarch. It doesn’t even bother me that he repeats the same expressions over and over, like “Instead of sex, can’t we just cuddle a while longer?” or “Forget that I’m late, I want to hear about your day first.” This may sound sort of crazy, but in a way these imperfections actually bring him closer to perfection. But maybe that’s just the unbridled love talking.

Another thing that’s so wonderful about Justin is that he always makes sure that I feel like a princess. Granted, I descended from British royalty and so I literally am a princess, but he would make me feel like one even if I weren’t. I remember the time that he hired Yo-Yo Ma to play for me on my twenty-third birthday. When Yo-Yo had to cancel because of a grounded flight, Justin taught himself how to play the cello in forty-five minutes and proceeded to wipe me off my feet with a heart-rending rendition of what I think was Witold Lutoslawski’s “Sacher Variation.” One time he ordered three dozen hybrid tea roses for me when we were first dating – “just because” he said. When a snowstorm prevented the florist from making the delivery, Justin fashioned some snowshoes out of two squash rackets and bakery twine and proceeded to hike 114 miles – we were living in the Catskills at the time – to deliver the flowers himself. It was so cold that he actually had to kill a stray dog and slice open its belly so that he could use the entrails to warm his frostbitten hands. Some would call such an act brutal. I say it’s sweet. Potato, po-tah-to, I guess.

My favorite anecdote, though, is the time Justin was performing heart surgery at the hospital – did I mention his medical degree from Johns Hopkins – and he decided to surprise me by placing a box of Godiva chocolates inside the chest of a cadaver he was supposed to dissect as part of a demonstration. To make a long story short, the plans got botched and the chocolates ended up inside of a real patient (I know, right!). The chocolates were ruined, but it was such a funny story, and we were rolling on the floor of the OR for what seemed like hours. Even the patient inside of whom they planted the chocolates laughed hysterically when the doctors told him about the mix-up, or at least he would have had he not died of septic shock within 36 hours. Oh man, that’s a story we’ll be telling our children some day.

Speaking of kids, I hope to one day start a family with Justin. I’ve always wanted at least two children, but Justin’s always saying that “double digits” is the only way to go. Watching him read children’s stories at the local orphanage – which he does every day except on weekends, when he’s either performing pro bono bypass surgery on iterant laborers without health insurance or is simply too weak from the six quarts of bloods he donates every Saturday morning – I can tell he’ll make a great father. Fashioning a wooden crib out of the tree under which we first made out might seem like a bit much to most girls, but certainly not to me. Though insisting upon whittling the wood using only the admission stub from the movie we saw on our first date… ok, that was excessive.

Anyways, it’s probably time to cut this encomium short. 1997’s beloved Swedish songwriter Robin Carlsson once sang, “So, baby, if you want me/ You’ve got to show me love.” Justin, I hope I have shown you a little love in this column. You know, Maureen Dowd has it all wrong when she asserts that men aren’t necessary. Maureen, you just need to meet my boyfriend – Justin Michael Shanes.

Justin Shanes’s girlfriend is an international supermodel who is nonetheless familiar with words like “gauche” and “encomium.”

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