In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, this week’s One in 2000 column has been replaced by the annual special edition, fittingly titled Two in 2000.
We wanted to find two people who were personable, fun and, most important, going strong enough to risk printing the details of their relationship in the Record. We could think of none better than Abbie Deal ’12 and Fiona Wilkes ’12, who stepped away from the crew team’s annual erg-a-thon to chat with me for a few minutes. Sitting in Paresky amidst the hum of ergs and shouts of rowers, they shared their story and made a compelling case for why love at first sight may be a little overrated.
So I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but you guys are kind of a high-profile couple on campus.
AD: [Laughs] Like Kate Middleton and Prince what’s-his-name!
Exactly! So how did you meet?
AD: We met freshman year. I was in Pratt 2, and Fiona was in Mills 2. I originally befriended someone in her entry, and then I became close with Fiona. Then I took time off freshman year, and Fiona was sort of the one friend that I kept through that time. When I came back, she invited me to join the crew team. But we were only friends then and had no idea of being together.
Doesn’t sound like it was necessarily love at first sight.
AD: No. Fiona was in a long-term relationship at the time and I was . . .
FW: Into boys.
AD: Yeah. I was into boys. It’s not like I’m not into boys now, but I was only thinking about boys then. It never even occurred to us.
FW: The week before we got together, we were sitting in Paresky, being like, “There’s no one at Williams that I’d really be interested in dating.” Abbie was saying, “I’m done with all the boys here!” and I was saying, “There’s no girls here for me!” And a week later . . .
So when did you two start dating?
FW: March 12, 2011. It’s a date that I know well because it’s also my 21st birthday.
How did your friends and teammates react to the relationship?
FW: They were amused at first, I think. I mean, it was not a subtle moment when we got together. We were sitting in the [Red] Herring, and the whole crew team was there. Everyone was like, “What’s going on here?”
AD: They really didn’t know what was going on, and neither did I. Because we’re on the same team, this is incestuous in so many ways! But our friends have been great. We weren’t the first women’s crew couple, and I think it helps that there’s precedent for this.
What about your families?
FW: My family is totally chill. They love Abbie and send care packages addressed to both of us. I never get my own mail anymore!
AD: My parents are working on it. They like Fiona, but they’re still getting used to the idea of liking Fiona as my girlfriend. But my sister is really supportive, and I think it helps to have immediate family members who are on board. But this is something very new for them.
So, Abbie: You said you’ve dated men before, and it seems like that’s the status quo in your family. Do you identify with one sexual orientation?
AD: Unless it becomes inconvenient, I don’t say I’m anything. I’m totally into Fiona, but I find guys attractive. I have really enjoyed being with guys before I was with her. But right now, I’m into Fiona, and it’s hard to say who I’d be into next. It seems like something everyone always wants to know.
In other news, what are you guys planning for Valentine’s Day?
FW: Sit at home and buy a huge tub of ice cream and eat it . . .
AD: [Laughs] We’re both people who stay at home a lot. I’m about to have my big swim meet, so I think we’re going to keep it chill. Since our anniversary’s in a month, we’ll probably have our big celebration then.
What’s a typical date night for you guys?
AD: We go to Spice Root all the time. They know us, and we get complimentary rice pudding.
FW: We went to the [Purple] Pub recently, and Abbie took me to Sweets and Beans.
Sweet! But what would your ideal date be, Fiona? Imagine Abbie wins the lottery tomorrow.
FW: I like just staying at home and watching a movie.
AD: What about some really expensive beer?
FW: Yeah. I’m a beer snob.
What about you, Abbie? What kind of night out would you expect if Fiona won the jackpot?
AD: I would want to go out to a really nice dinner and not feel guilty about whatever I ordered. I think we would have fun sitting there eating our really snobby food and making fun of the people around us. We would be totally into the expensive stuff but laughing about it at the same time. And then maybe a nice walk.
We’re talking about these long, lavish dates, but I know you guys are both crazy busy. How do you find time for each other?
AD: Well, we live together . . . Because I do a cappella, I’m probably out a bit more than Fiona, but the harder thing is actually finding the balance [to have] time apart. I think we’ve done a better job of that since Winter Study. She was in season for crew, and I was in season for swimming . . .
FW: And I was in the library writing my economics thesis. Which I’m just finishing up now!
Congrats! What are you planning to do next year?
FW: I applied to Ph.D programs in econ, so I’ll be hearing back from them soon.
AD: My plan is still a little up in the air. I’m almost definitely going abroad to Germany in the fall because I took time off freshman year and still have an extra semester. When I get back, Fiona will be in grad school, and I will hopefully find a job where she is.
FW: It’ll give me time to get settled and meet new people before Abbie descends [laughs].
That’s a great image! I’m curious – what is something that campus doesn’t know about you guys?
AD: I think Fiona is a lot more down-to-earth and normal than people think [laughs]. She looks a little bit Euro[pean]. People think she’s exotic, but she’s really not.
FW: Abbie’s a big strong athlete, but she’s really cute-sy. Cuddly and stuff. It’s a side of her that only I get to see.
And what’s your favorite quality in each other?
AD: Fiona’s very consistent.
FW: That’s boring!
AD: No! I can always depend on you to be supportive. I value the fact that you’re consistent and dependent. And always snuggly.
FW: I appreciate that we always have something to talk about. You can be totally goofy and ridiculous but also really deep and intense and make me think about things in a way that I hadn’t thought about them before.
Is there anything else you want people to know?
AD: No [laughs]. I think people are going to be tired of us by the time this article comes out!
Somehow, I doubt it.