Knightly News (KN): Hi, guys. I’m glad we could find time to do this.
Fred Assaf (FA): We’re happy to be included.
KN: Awesome. Well, let’s begin with a simple question. How did you guys meet?
Martha Assaf (MA): Oh, well, there are two versions of this answer! His is, ya know… the revisionist history.
FA: Yes, this would be a good exercise for AP Lang to figure out where the truth lies. You know how there can be some disinformation sometimes!
MA: I guess I’ll tell my version. I went on a tour of a place where I had a job offer to teach math, and they toured me around and showed me all the important buildings, and because it was a boarding school, I was shown what was supposed to be a typical apartment… And he, of course, had the nicest apartment on campus with the cutest puppy. And, naturally, I was given the crappiest apartment on campus.
FA: You’re missing the point here, Honey! All of that was to say that you met me while you were visiting campus. And that’s why you took the job, because otherwise there’s no reason why a cute girl like you would have taken a job in the middle of nowhere.
MA: Now, I just don’t think that’s true! Again, he’s the revisionist, ha ha.
FA: No, that’s it. You came, met me, and thought “Oh my god! Look at this guy! Better take the job!”
MA: Oh, please. To answer your question, we were both teachers.
KN: I see. We’ll let the readers discern for themselves which story was fact and which was fiction. Anyway, can you tell me about your first date?
FA: Go ahead, Martha. You remember it for sure, ha ha.
MA: Of course I do. We went to Baltimore, went to Gampy’s.
FA: Yeah, Gampy’s. And we’ve since gone back and have a picture of us together there now. We literally lived in the middle of nowhere at that boarding school so we drove about 90 miles to Baltimore. So we went to Baltimore for that date to a restaurant, a really cool restaurant.
KN: You drove 90 miles for your first date?!?!
KN: What type of food was it?
MA: American. I had just been to Europe and Fred was asking me what type of food I wanted, like French or Italian… So I was just like, “Let’s do American.”
FA: Burgers and such. That classic kind of thing. The restaurant is unfortunately now closed, though.
KN: Oh, dang. Well, at least they ended on a good note, being responsible for such an iconic romance.
MA: Ha ha ha! Yes, for sure.
KN: How long were y’all dating before marriage, and can you retell the proposal story?
FA: We were dating for two years before we got engaged.
MA: OK, and the proposal?
FA: I’m getting there! So we were both grad students at UVA, and Martha, as you probably know, loves sports. We were at the Virginia vs. Georgia Tech football game. And I proposed to her on the Jumbotron, which was just a blurb on the scoreboard basically. So at the end of the first quarter, it came up on the scoreboard: “Hey, Martha. Will you marry me?” So that’s how it happened.
MA: It was pretty ambitious.
KN: I know! What would have happened if she said no?
FA: I had to actually pay the guy for advertising time on the scoreboard. And later on, the guy asked me if I wanted him to advertise that she said yes. I was like, “Well… We probably won’t be there still if she says no, so go ahead.”
MA: Luckily, I said yes.
KN: That’s an awesome memory. My next question is: What’s the best vacation you’ve ever been on together?
FA: Oh, that’s a good question. Hm… You go.
KN: Wow, there must be so many to choose from!
MA: Let’s say it was biking in Prince Edward.
FA: Yeah. We took a 10-day bicycle trip around Prince Edward Island. We took all our gear and we cycled around the whole island. It’s in Canada. It’s pretty cool.
KN: Nice, that’s awesome. My next question is a bit sappy and tender, but have you identified your favorite things about each other?
MA: Easy. Fred’s funny. That’s his thing.
FA: Funny. Yeah, funny looking…
MA: Well, that too. But mostly just funny.
FA: Hm. Do I have favorite things about you? Sure, I’ve lots of things. Number one is that I probably wouldn’t be able to find my way to work in the morning without Martha. She has this, like, really great mind for how everything works logistically. She’s just so much smarter than I am in that way, and it’s super helpful.
MA: Aw, well, I’m helpful. But I don’t know about the smarter part…
KN: Well, I hope you’d be able to find the five-foot walk in the mornings from your home to work without much assistance, but I get what you mean. What about pet peeves?
MA: He doesn’t put the pistachios away.
FA: I’m guilty.
MA: I’m sure he has a lot of things to say about me here…
FA: I don’t. I don’t really. I’m not bothered by much, to be honest with you.
KN: Well, that’s a very healthy marriage, then.
KN: So, how do you guys typically spend Valentine’s Day?
FA: Oh, I’m just going to turn the tables on you, because with having five sons, Valentine’s Day is always challenging for us. I never know what to get or what to do. And so, I was going to say that I need advice from all the girls out there. I think Martha suffers from the idea that not only am I not good at planning Valentine’s Day, but also none of our children are, either. Therefore, she usually finds herself asking us last-minute, “Who wants to go to Buffalo Wild Wings?”
MA: There’s not really a lot of planning that goes into it. And I would say that in Atlanta, probably most of the past Valentine’s Days have been at sporting events for the kids.
FA: Ha ha ha. Yes, at a basketball game or something for Pace.
MA: An NYO game, something for lacrosse… So it’s usually a nice, romantic hot dog or something from the – Well, now that the concession stands are closed because of COVID-19, I’m not sure what we’ll do!
KN: Perhaps there’ll be a little Chick-fil-A moment on the way home.
FA: Yeah, that’s kind of it. We don’t have plans for this year as of now, but I’ll take all the suggestions that any readers want to offer. God knows I need the help!
KN: Oh, of course. All the Knightly News readers know your emails! Before we conclude this conversation, is there anything else the two of you want to say about each other on record?
FA: I would say that I’m still hopelessly in love with Martha after all these years.
KN: Well, that’s encouraging to all the romantics out there! Thank you so much for sitting down with me today, and have a great day.