And welcome to lucky 13!
Hope the weekend is going well thus far and that you’re busy enjoying.
Hey, today, let’s shake it up a bit. Yeah, how about going off the board some? I’m up for it if you are.
So anyway, blind dates. Can’t say I had a lot of them, but I did have a few. And while whether or not they were good is decidedly up for debate, I’m fairly confident that neither was a disaster. In fact, I wrote letters back and forth to one of the girls for a few years. She was from Wayne, Pennsylvania, went to Connecticut College and believe it or not, she became an author.
And yes, pathetically quixotic as I was – and even more painfully, still am at times – I used to look for her books. Yeah, everywhere. I even found one once. But I was with my daughter, Alex, who was about four at the time. And I figured the search was over.
As for my only other one, I was a cadet at VMI, and the girlfriend of a guy in my company was driving down to school, all the way from Meriden, CT (about 20 miles south of Hartford). If you punch a few buttons on your phone and hit up Google, you’ll see that that’s just more than 500 miles.
Bottom line, she wasn’t allowed to make the trip without company, and the girl driving down with her needed a date. I never did find out what draft pick I actually was, but when the dust settled, I was the last man standing.
When the girls showed up two days later, as I was walking up to meet them, it hit me that I was about to go on a date with someone I had never even seen a photograph of. (Hence the term “blind date,” I know, but at least on the first go-round, I had some idea of what to expect.)
As for her, I have to believe that she was pretty nervous. I mean after all – and from what I learned later – the only thing she had to go on was a picture of me standing in formation. Pretty romantic, huh?
Long story short, it was pretty OK. Because the dance was sort of a big deal, we got a weekend pass, allowing us to leave campus. We went to this park way out in the sticks that had a picnic area and a big open field. This upper classman let me borrow some of his clothes, and there I was, clad in jeans and a tee shirt, still wearing my black dress shoes.
The next thing I know, I’m playing a game of ultimate frisbee with a few of my buddies, their dates, and several upperclassman. (Maybe we’ll talk some more VMI in a future thread, but rest assured the frisbee game was decidedly not the norm.)
Oh yeah, my date. Where was she in all of this? She was busy starring in the frisbee game. I’m not kidding. Turns out that she was a track runner, a sprinter who could simply outrun everyone else.
For my part, I just stood there in my highly shined low quarter shoes, now all scuffed up, wearing pants that Mr. Green Jeans from Captain Kangaroo wouldn’t be caught dead in, trying to keep up with my fleet-of-foot blind date.
After suffering through a few jokes from the guys (including my favorite: “Fish, you couldn’t keep up with her on a moped.”), we ultimately made it to the dance. And I ‘gotta say, I really had fun. As you can imagine, my spritely date, was a ‘helluva dancer. (And you think I couldn’t keep up in that frisbee game?)
A few years later, I learned that she ended up running in college and later became a high school track coach.
So, two for two, right?
A few years passed, and after graduating from college, I moved to Washington, DC, then working in film and TV on the production crew of a short-lived TV show called “A Man Called Hawk.”
The job was hard, with long hours and a six-day shooting schedule, leaving me dog tired pretty much all the time. Sunday was my catch-up day, getting some much-needed sleep and having a few meals sitting down at a table vs. standing in the street, eating with plastic wear. And that was the day I usually did my laundry.
It was a freakishly warm day in late February, and I walked along 13th Street Northwest, lugging my laundry bag and a book I was reading. Not in much of a hurry, I stopped at a bench, sitting down to enjoy the warmth of the sun. I read a little of my book and thought about heading to the laundromat. Something made me sit back down, though, and I decided to do a little people watching.
I sat there watching a small parade of smiling faces, all enjoying the sun-splashed sky, and I suddenly found myself smiling back, making eye contact with a pretty girl who was walking right toward me.
It wasn’t like I was ogling her or anything, but I suddenly got embarrassed and got back to my feet. I didn’t get too far, though.
“Would you like a date?” It’s nearly 35 years ago, and I swear I still see her walking, stopping near the corner of 13th Street and Rhode Island Avenue, as I hastily tried to pick up my laundry bag. And then that voice again.
“Well?” She sat down right next to me. “Do you want a date or don’t you?” I swear she asked so nicely, I felt like I was getting punked – like on a reality show or something. (Reality TV didn’t really exist back then, but I think you know what I mean.)
I wanted to answer, but I was so taken aback by what was happening, I couldn’t get any words to come out.
“Don’t you talk?” Again, she spoke so softly and nicely, I almost felt like I was being rude.
“No thanks. I’ve ‘gotta go do my laundry.” I have laughed at myself for that response so often over the years, it’s no wonder I remember it this clearly.
And then it got a little weirder.
“OK if I go with you?” She sort of grinned when she asked me that, dangerously pretty, but somehow sweet, too.
“To do my laundry?” I was readying to walk away, but somehow, I just stood there.
“Sure. I’m not really doing anything just now.” (After all these years, I have to paraphrase much of this, but I swear this was a
“Well, I appreciate the offer, but I really have to get going.”
“You sure you don’t want company?” Her persistence was commendable.
“I really don’t, but thank you.” And I began walking, heading for the far corner of Rhode Island Avenue. Then she followed me.
“Don’t you think I’m pretty?”
“No,” I lied. “Now will you please leave me alone?”
I began walking at a faster clip, looking back over my shoulder.
As I turned around (yeah, I guess I just couldn’t help it), she waved at me. Then she turned around and walked up 13th Street in the other direction.
Wishing you all a great night, and I’ll meet you back here tomorrow.
@Copyright 2023 by John L. Fischer