[Before I share this little story, Joe Biden was talking to some crowd exhorting them to embrace the Obama/Biden ticket, when he told them that Hillary would make a great vice president. Then he said that she probably would have been a better choice than he. Can we have a do-over?]
Don is a friend of mine. I've known him since the summer of 1958. I was a tall, skinny fourteen year old who used to loiter around the lifeguard stand at the beach in my town. He was one of the lifeguards, a former member of our high school swim team and soon to be a freshman at Duke. All summer he put up with me like an older brother with a pesky little sister. Or a clumsy St. Bernard puppy.
I helped my own cause by bringing him homemade chocolate chips and pining for one of the other lifeguards. Except for one disastrous attempt at having a date, years later, we have always been good friends.
One of the reasons I applied to Duke was because Don went there. My first day on campus I saw him on the Quad and he introduced me to Danny, one of his fraternity brothers. I was immediately smitten. Danny had played football back home for our biggest high school rival, Evanston, a team which had beaten us seven years in a row. Big and athletic, he looked like he could take on our team by himself. He had gone to Duke to play ball, but he got hurt so he decided to get an education. Our first date was a boring poetry reading by a popular English professor who, I realized later, had as big a crush on Danny as I did.
Over the next three years, at Duke and later at Northwestern, I wasted a lot of time going out with him. I was even pinned to someone else for a year or so, but when that broke up I went back to Danny. Not that he was ever my boyfriend. I just couldn't get him out of my system.
When I transferred to Northwestern he had already graduated from Duke and was living back home in Evanston, where NU is located. One day he called my sorority house to talk to someone else, but I happened to answer the phone. Instead of just taking his message, he wanted to keep talking. That's because I sounded so seductive. How do I know this?
I should probably mention that I suffered from really bad cramps for years, so my doctor had prescribed a painkiller that had codeine in it. If you've ever talked to someone who is high on dope you will know why I sounded like one of those soothing voices at the other end of a 900 number -- in sharp contrast to my normally raucous, fast-talking, schtick-performing self.
Naturally, enhanced by pharmaceuticals, my voice was so appealing that Danny asked me out again.
I actually laughed when I got off the phone, knowing how disappointed he was going to be when I showed up behaving like good old wacko me on our date.
How bad did I want to keep going out with this guy? That summer he asked me to a concert when I was selling clothes at Marshall Field's. The morning of the concert, someone had brought brownies to work to celebrate a birthday. They were delicious. In fact, I had about four of them before 9:30 in the morning. For some reason, the time of day, or the rich chocolate frosting, they sat in my stomach like a brick. When I got home after work, feeling awful, the last thing I wanted to do was go on a date. But it was Danny. So I upchucked the undigested treats -- seriously, they practically came up whole -- swallowed some strong mouthwash and I was good to go.
Fast forward to 1978, more than a decade later.
I ran into Danny on the street, following my divorce. It turned out we had both been married for the same length of time and our divorces were finalized in the same month.
That was a good enough reason for him to ask me out. And for me to accept. After our second date, he called me up and asked me to help him get a housekeeper for his son. I suggested that he look in the newspaper under household help. No. He wanted me to do it since he considered that a woman's job.
Hello? I declined. Then he asked me to go out that night. I said I had plans with my girlfriends. He said, tell them you're busy.
Apparently he missed the memo. Times had changed and he hadn't. I suddenly saw him for the sexist pig he had been all this time. You never know what will transpire to finally shut down those residual longings for someone who was poisonous from day one. But I was finally done with him.
Meanwhile, Don marries the former wife of my college roommate's husband's best friend. I just had to throw that in.
About ten years ago I called Don to catch up on stuff. We hadn't talked in years. He laughed and said, "Guess who I talked to today?" I had no idea. "Danny." Don hadn't talked to him in years either and strangely, both of us called him on the same day. O-o-o-o-o-o, cosmic.
A couple of nights ago I called Don to catch up again. We keep saying we're going to get together and we never do it. He wasn't home. I left a message, "It's me, Mrs. Linklater. You know this means you're probably going to hear from Danny, too."
I was right, only this time it wasn't a phone call.
I met a couple of people at a new Starbuck's early yesterday, the morning after calling Don. I have never been to that particular one before. We were sitting outside talking bidness when I looked up and there was Danny pressing buttons on his cellphone as he was heading inside. Trying to reach Don perhaps? More cosmic-ness.
He didn't see me. Phew. Except for having gray hair he looked exactly the same. For once I was glad that I don't look at all ike I used to.
Last night I called Don again. He laughed and said Danny hadn't called him yet. I said he didn't have to, because this time, after not seeing him for years, there had actually been a sighting.
Does this mean that every time I contact Don we get stuck with Danny too? What's going to happen if Don and I actually get together for dinner or something? Will Danny be sitting at the next table? Will he be our server? Will he valet park our cars?
Meanwhile, should I call Oprah?