Match made by the stars
Margaret Tarabokija picked up a copy of The Daily Targum sitting on a table in her Clifton apartment and flipped to the Diversions section to read her horoscope, just as she did five and a half years ago on her first date with Andrew Stakiwicz. But what was printed under Libra was unlike anything she'd read before.
"I love you, Margaret Tarabokija. You've made the years we've spent together the best years of my life. Nothing would make me happier than spending the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me?"
"Of course," Margaret said with tears in her eyes, as Andrew kneeled on one knee, and held out a beautiful ring just before slipping it onto her finger.
Their story began six years ago, when Andrew was a first-year student residing in Morrow Hall on Busch campus and Margaret was a student at Montclair State University.
She was introduced to Andrew while visiting friends at the University. But for Margaret, it wasn't love at first sight.
"I wasn't too fond of Andrew when I first met him because he made fun of me, and I didn't know his sense of humor," she said. "But later, I found out he was kind of teasing me like you do when you're in first grade and you like someone. That was just a part of his personality. That's actually what I love most about him now."
But Andrew said he didn't realize he had offended her in any way.
"At the time, I thought she had a very nice sense of humor," said Andrew, a School of Engineering alumnus. "She would play along with whatever jokes I had at the time."
After talking frequently online over the winter break, Andrew asked Margaret to go on a date once they were back in school. Soon after, they were on their first date at Busch Dining Hall.
"I picked up the Rutgers newspaper," Margaret said. "I was a little nervous. It was a first date, so being the silly person that I am, I turned to the horoscopes and I said, 'Oh, I want to read my horoscope to you,' and it said something about having a romantic night. It was just a weird coincidence because we were on our first date."
Margaret said she and Andrew often joke about that day, the horoscope and how since then, they've been together.
"I thought it was really creative that he remembered and went out of his way to put the proposal under my horoscope," she said.
Andrew and Margaret may plan to spend the rest of their lives together, but friends say they are very unlike one another.
"They're like complete opposites," said Mary Lou Rios, Margaret's best friend and coworker. "Andrew's very much into books, he's a very intellectual guy and he's into different music. Margaret's very outgoing. She likes to be the center of attention. She's into pop music. They're just complete extremes and it's weird."
Andrew's coworker and college roommate Titus Obbayi agrees.
"They're different - I don't know how they can sit together and watch television at the same time," he said. "The only thing they seem to have in common is watching the Philadelphia Eagles."
But the newly engaged couple has one thing in common - each other.
Since their first year at college, Margaret and Andrew did their best to visit each other as often as possible and enjoy the time they had together.
"He's not the neatest type in the world," Titis said. "I was sharing a room with him and our room was always such a mess. The first time that she was coming over to go on a date with him, he cleaned that place. It was spotless: You could not recognize it."
Mary Lou said Margaret constantly visited Andrew despite not having a car.
"She would literally commute two hours by train, by bus just to see him for a day," she said. "She would have so much homework and she would just bring it on the train just to see him."
Longtime friend and University alumnus Erika Halayko said Margaret would visit her as well as Andrew whenever possible.
"It would be a situation where she'd come over to visit me, we'd have lunch and I'd be like, "Oh Margaret, you're all dressed up,' and she would be like, "Yeah, I'm going to see Andrew later.' It was really adorable."
Erika and Titus said they are surprised Andrew popped the question, considering what he used to say about marriage.
"He always used to be like, 'Oh whatever, marriage?' pretending that he didn't care about marriage and it was no big deal," Erika said.
Titus said Andrew used to say he would never get married.
"He was always adamant about that and it was definitely a shock," he said.
But Erika and Mary Lou said they always thought the couple would end up tying the knot.
"I just knew," Erika said. "The way that they looked at each other - it was beautiful. And he adores her."
Margaret, who teaches math at North Bergen High School and Andrew, who works as a mechanical engineer for Impact Instrumentation Inc., are both pursuing graduate degrees at Montclair State University and plan to set a wedding date for summer 2010 after they graduate.
Margaret and Andrew may not have a lot in common except their love for one another, but their story proves that opposites do attract.