“Ben & Allie”… These names probably don’t ring the “ultra-famous couple bell” in your mind, and they probably don’t top your list of Google or Youtube searches. But to me, “Ben & Allie” rolls off the tongue with the same resonance as other legendary name combinations like “Aladdin & Jasmine,” “Simba & Nala,” and, of course, “Beauty & the Beast.”Hey, don’t fault me cuz of my shameless love of Disney romances. You’ve never lived a full life until you’ve wept for joy while watching two cartoon characters finally find true love.
Back to Ben & Allie. Ben “percusses,” which is my shortened way of saying “plays the drums in spectacular fashion.” Allie “snaps…” my word for “takes fantabulous photos.” Both possess a variety of other skills, but these are their main focuses. Because Ben percusses, he and I share a long history that dates back to 2006. At that point, I daytimed as an admissions rep at Spring Arbor University while Ben spent his days in the hallways of a local high school. One day, Ben and his friend visited SAU. I gave them a tour, found out Ben was a drummer, recruited him for Spring Arbor, and asked him to try out for my new band. Ben joined the band, and he attended Spring Arbor for all four years of college.
During the next four years, “the band which we do not speak of” played shows, recorded an album, and broke up. Ben left our group somewhere in the middle of the fray, but our friendship never died. He and I reunited many times to play coffee shops and other small venues. In fact, at the end of his junior year, he played for my first big concert at the Michigan Theater in downtown Jackson. While I was busy making plans for my music career, I, Ben’s former college recruiter, ironically asked Ben to quit college and go on a fall 2009 album tour with me. He enthusiastically agreed, but the tour never materialized.
You see, during the summer of 2009, I was riding my bicycle across America with two other friends, and whenever I would pray about the tour in the fall, God would always say, “NO! Ben needs to finish college!” I tried pushing the MUTE button in my mind multiple times, but the message persisted. Then my sister Kristin, who was planning the tour with me, called my cell phone one day while I was stopped somewhere in the midwest and said, “I’ve been praying, and I think Ben’s supposed to finish college.” Wow! Talk about a confirmation! Shortly thereafter, I brokenheartedly dialed Ben’s number and sealed the fate of our fall tour.
Ben returned to Spring Arbor that fall and saw Allie in a crowd while he was “percussing” on stage. Recently, he told me, “She just stuck out in the crowd to me. There were lots of pretty girls that night, but she was just different, ya know? I had to meet her.” Ben sauntered past her four or five times, but he couldn’t muster the courage to introduce himself to Allie. Later, he facebooked her. She facebooked back. The length of their facebook messages doubled, tripled, and quadrupled exponentially. Then they met, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Last summer, a highway traffic jam and a back road speeding ticket prohibited me from seeing any of Ben & Allie’s wedding ceremony, but the reception equalled LEGIT STATUS! The guests toasted, partied, and danced late into the evening. A genuine sense of thankfulness seemed to float on the breeze that night. It was as if everyone subconsciously agreed that “Yes, this marriage is from God. And it’s good!”
Ben & Allie aren’t perfect people; but, from what I’ve observed, they love each other with a brand of love that legends and fairytales stem from. It’s not the dull “Dang it! You were the only one around” sort of love, or the “We got married cuz we had a kid together” kind of love. Their love seems perfect because they don’t demand each other’s perfection. It’s strong because they forgive each other’s weaknesses. And it’s fun to watch because they don’t care who’s looking. They’re hilarious!
They’re the kind of couple that kisses to celebrate every occasion. “Honey, it’s good to see you!” Kiss. “Goodbye!” Kiss. “I love you!” Kiss. Kiss. Kiss. “Let’s order this for lunch!” Kiss. “Sounds Good!” Kiss. “Did you buy those boots today?” Kiss. “Today, I heard California fell into the ocean.” Kiss. “Another earthquake?” Kiss. Kiss. Partial Makeout session. Kiss… It’s like they have a perpetual mistletoe hanging over them every moment they’re together, and… I love that! Ben & Allie provide a real example of hope for me!
For the last two years I’ve fought many bouts with romantic pessimism. My doubts surfaced in the form of rhetorical questions. “Does anybody really love each other when they get married, or do they just settle for who they’re around?” “Can young love last the span of a whole marriage?” “Should I really expect to be ‘head over heels’ for someone?” Questions and doubts hit me like a tidal wave a couple years ago because of a dizzying combination of things.
Many of my friends got married out of what seemed to be some sense of emptiness, obligation, or guilt. Others were already fighting and complaining about each other’s petty habits and weaknesses. And supposedly rock-solid marriages that I once upheld as models were shattering into ugly divorces. During all this, I and a girl that I loved spun in an endless cycle of breaking up, getting back together, and breaking up again. Marriage became my hopeless maze of confusion.
In spite of all this, I knew that I had seen “the real thing.” I definitely used to see it in my Grandpa Vischer’s eyes when he’d reminisce about “Denell,” my grandma. I saw it in my Grandma Kowalik’s tears when she cried at my Grandpa Kowalik’s deathbed. I knew my grandparents had the real thing, but I questioned whether anyone in my generation or my parent’s generation understood what love’s supposed to be like.
Here’s the part of the blog where I could jump into I Cor 13 and tell you that “Love is kind, etc. etc.” Instead, I’d rather have you read it for yourself. After you read it, start listing the couples you know that seem to be striving for that kind of love. After you’ve made your list, thank them. They’re important! Those couples make the world a better place for each other, for their kids, and for you. They make schools better. They make churches better. They make the government better. They provide hope by simply loving each other.
Disney movies, iconic figures, and chic flicks no longer contain the relationships that inspire me. The relationships of ordinary people give me hope that true love exists. You’ve probably never heard these name combinations, but they deserve to be legendary. “Harold & Denell,” “Wasyl & Mildred,” “Ralph & Nancy,” “Scott & Ruth,” “Wally & Katie,” “Donnie & Abi,” “Dan & Norma,” “Jeff and Becky,” “Stephen & Paula,” “Carrie & John,” “David & Lindsay,” “Terri & Lynne,” “Bob & Jan,” and of course, “Ben & Allie.”
As I read the last paragraph for typos, I cried again as I remembered the love that my grandparents shared. Someday, Ben & Allie, if you continue along the right path, there will be a grandson or granddaughter of yours who cries when they remember the love that you two shared, and those tears will prove that you made the world a better place.
P.S. I’m glad you finished college, Ben!