MONTEREY, CA — Do you speak the language of love? Well two students at the Defense Language Institute certainly do.
Private First Class Mike Keenan, 19, and Private First Class Tina Lowry, 21, are from two different worlds. He is a small-town farm boy from Wisconsin, and she is from the suburbs of Philadelphia. He is in the Arabic basic course at DLI, and she is studying Korean. He likes quiet evenings playing video games, and she likes spending evenings down the hill at the Mucky Duck, a local bar popular with students.
But despite their differences, Keenan reports that the two are very much in love and will be together forever.
“I went to community college for a year before I joined the Army,” Keenan said. “I dated a couple girls there. But no one makes me feel like Lowry does. She is incredible.”
About three months ago, the two met at Combs Dining Facility during breakfast. “She asked to sit at my table because it was real busy and there was nowhere else to sit. We talked, and then I asked her if she wanted to go see a movie. She laughed at me at first, but when she kind of, I guess saw she had hurt my feelings, she said, ‘Ah, sure, why not?’”
It hasn’t been all flowers and roses, though. “It’s been tough communicating,” Keenan said, “especially with the language difference. I asked my teacher how to say ‘soul mate.’ She told me it’s ‘rooh-sadiqa.’ So I told Lowry that she was my rooh-sadiqa, but she didn’t know what I was saying.”
The couple has also had to deal with Keenan’s insecurity. “I get a little jealous sometimes. Like, we went to an 18-and-up club together in Salinas, and she started dancing with some asshole Marine in her class, Yung Jae. Like, not just dancing, but dancing dancing. I pulled her away, and was about to punch that guy in the face, but she kept screaming, ‘Me and Yung Jae are just friends!’ I was so pissed, but we left the club together and she tongue kissed me in the cab, so I knew everything was going to be okay.”
Despite the fact that they have only been dating a short time and that their different languages will likely send them to separate duty stations thousands of miles apart, Keenan is sure that their love is strong enough to overcome all obstacles.
In fact, Keenan is planning to ask Lowry to marry him.
“I’m going to pop the question on Sunday night, after she gets back in town. I’d ask her tonight, but she and Yung Jae went up to San Francisco for the weekend for some kind of class trip or something.”