Dear Kids,

It occurred to me recently that you were but 10, 12, and 15 when your parents separated. As such, though you lived through the end of a marriage, none of you bore witness to its ascent, those halcyon days when, inexplicably Opie Taylor fell for Grace Slick. Even in the profound neutrality of today, I think back to those first sixty days and smile. You should, too. This then, is how I met your mother.

My junior year: Living off campus with Arthur I was, not unlike today, vibrant, busy, and loveless. Days were spent not going to classes; nights were with friends or my Dad (who’d taken in Dick Baskin), or cards….or….all of the above. Uncle Hal was but a freshman, Harriet had just shown up…the world was indeed younger.

I’d been given your mother’s name by a still Jeff-less Linda Yankow. Oddly, as insecure as I was, I’d never feared the fix-up. (Snyder once told me the reason I went on so many blind dates was because a girl would have to be blind to go out with me. He had—back then— “street cred.” I believed him).

Saturday, October 18, 1969: Meeting her was NOT the highlight of the day. Indeed, I’d spent that pre-cable afternoon with thousands watching OSU beat Minnesota 34-7 on a closed circuit feed to St. John’s Arena. Your mother was at best, the after-party.

Those days boys couldn’t go to girls’ rooms. Calling from the lobby, I stood at the base of Taylor’s elevators, and still picture this tall, leggy coed strutting past me, aimlessly looking for a more hirsute guy.

We doubled that night. Saw “Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid” with Walt and Andy Wolf (a junior up from Miami). The typically platonic agenda was movie and dinner (Emil’s), a dime in the booth’s jukebox (“I Take Alot Of Pride In Who I Am- Dean Martin), and home. After dumping the ladies, Marc and I returned to his frat house. It was there that I announced in the dorm area that I’d never go out with her again.

Like I said, though, these were busy times. The next week was homecoming and, nerd that I was, I’d had a date for weeks. Brenda was a nice girl…had been to her Cinci home. Still, for reasons I’d come to learn later, we never did turn the corner.

It didn’t matter. I was having fun finally coming into my own! Contact lenses and a new Mustang convertible provided confidence I’d never felt before. I was so happy to be able to talk to girls (without fear), that the thrill of it all trumped any urge for romance.

Take Homecoming, for example: There was the DPhiE Brunch, the Bucks’ 41-0 scouring of Illinois, then the Blood Sweat And Tears concert. My scorecard read clearly: Day full, plate full, life full.

It was my birthday that year that I next thought of your mother. Longert threw a surprise party and in the midst of it all, suggested I call her.

“She thought you were different,” said Linda.
“Good different, or just different?”
“She’s not sure, Bruce…Just call her.”

Our second date was another movie. Safe venue, thought I. Crestfallen—OSU had lost to Michigan that day—I acquiesced to your mother’s eerily prescient suggestion, the stoner film “Easy Rider”. (Was I the only one on campus not to like it?) Afterward we went back to my apartment, sat on the couch, and kissed slightly. (It wasn’t my idea. Snyder said I had to take her back, if only so she wouldn’t wonder about me). Again, though….no magic.

I’d like to say our third time was a charm; it wasn’t. Dateless, sitting on tickets for The Association…it was default and destiny calling. No one hit it out of the park that night. Still, it wasn’t three strikes and you’re out, either. We fouled off a few; we stayed alive.

Something…whatever it was…was beginning to kick in. After days delaying, after sensing perhaps, an emotional investment), I called again. We had a few “study dates.” Nothing major. The worm, alas, was beginning to turn.

Friday, December 12: A month had passed. Fear and Thanksgiving had paused the process and an accident had totaled my Mustang. Still, in an orange Plymouth Barracuda (Al Bogart loved the color), I picked up your mother for yet another movie, another meal. (I just never had GAME).

It was a classic night. We saw “The Sterile Cuckoo,” (starring Liza Minnelli, NOT your aunt). In the dark of the theater, though, I saw only your mother. Gone were her purple sunglasses, on was her Estee Lauder. For some reason, that evening she thought everything I said was funny. Just as suddenly, I began to actually understand her Jersey accent…and thought it cute.

A light bulb went on.

The next night, a Saturday, the Bucks were at home. Basketball. (Wieder would miss the game, going to the hospital with swollen eyes). Me? I saw your mother before the game, having dinner at IHOP. The flag, (no pun intended), was up!

It’s a funny thing about confidence. When I have it…when I’ve got that swagger…I’m fearless.

“You’re funny,” she told me again, (which I interpreted as a seismic pronouncement of emotion).

Buoyed, I asked her for New Years in Cleveland. She passed but it mattered not.  “Going home,” she said, but…”You can take me to the airport.”

Port Columbus, back then, offered metered parking. Right up front.

Tuesday, December 16, 1969: I parked on the circle, walked toward the trunk, and pulled out her bags. She stood there, your Mom did, DPhiE friend to her side. And I kissed her—right then and there, in front of her friend, in front of other travelers, in front of the world.

“Really going to miss you,” I said (to no response). Beet red, flustered, she’d pivoted and scrambled away—MORTIFIED.

It mattered not. I worried not. The future looked bright. (It always does when you’ve got the swagger).

Just remember that,
Love, Dad

2 Responses to “HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER”

  1. stacy says:

    i could have writen this myself – you two are so predictable. love you! keep ones like this coming!

  2. aunt helen says:

    i could have writen this myself – you two are so predictable.

Leave a Reply