| advance noise
for days of naze
| o zephyr winds that blow
lift me now so I can fly
||October 23, 1998
A Brilliant Mistake
Bob Ross likes to remind us that there are no such things as mistakes, there are only "happy accidents".
Some people think Bob is kind of fruity. You have to admit that a big 70's afro on a middle-aged white guy is a bit odd. And those painting lessons on t.v. with the big 6 inch brush... Sometimes it makes you wonder. Me? I can't get enough of the guy. But that wasn't what I really wanted to talk about.
The happy accident I'd like to tell you of is a reminder of how much Fate or Chance or Luck or whatever you want to call it rules our lives.
It's Fall 1983. My sophomore year in college. I'm sitting in a dormitory basement posing as a classroom. I really hadn't planned on being there. I signed up for the Television Production course only to find later, on the first day of class, that I had been bumped by an upper classmen. (In fact, by the very one who sold me the accursed black polyester suit!)
I was pissed. My whole schedule was already set. What else could I find that would fit? I scanned the course reference book under the Communication section. Hmm. Argumentation & Advocacy. Fancy name for debate. I like it.
Good news: there is room available. Bad news: I've missed the first day. Debate is a team sport, teams of two. Every one has paired off already. The professor gives me some vague assurances that we'll work something out. I leave at the end of the class period thinking yeah, right.
Fifteen of us plus the professor sit in a wide circle as he walks us through the fundamentals of debate, reviewing the reading assignment. He is intense. What little hair he has got is greased back on his head. He laughs with a snort. We find out later that he coaches the school's nationally ranked team. Ten minutes into the lecture, the door opens.
In walks this beautiful woman with bright blue eyes, flawless skin and dressed to the nines in a very smart skirt and jacket. I turn to her, overjoyed to have such a fine looking partner, extend my hand and introduce myself.
"Hi, I'm odd."
In the re-telling of this tale, Cathy insists that she thought I meant "Hi, I'm awed". In fact, I was, but what I intended to convey in those three words was that I'm the odd man out. Damn, I'm glad to meet you! (Regular readers are thinking "I'll bet she thought you were odd!")
The debate topic that year was "Resolved: Pesticides are evil" or something like that. In weeks we would go head-to-head with the other teams and our grade would depend on how well we competed. The desire to win and the fear of failure in front of an audience was more than enough to motivate me.
We weren't very good. In fact, we lost every debate except one where I caught the only other team more lame than us on a technicality. I had started off earnestly researching our topic and structuring the killer case, but found myself irresistably diverted by my winsome partner, who I came to learn was bent on diversion.
Both of us lived off campus and took the bus to school. And the Fates conspired to put our first class schedules close enough that we ended up riding the same bus each day. I shared my chocolate chip cookies with her, which I highly recommend as a flirtation technique.
The course required attendance at a sanctioned event. I drove us to a debate in the town where I grew up. We went to McDonald's; Cathy got a little police car with her Happy Meal. The other debate topic of the year had to do with the difference in the quality of education between public and private schools. In an ironic twist, the local community college team had to argue the superiority of private education and did so with a hamburger vs. steak metaphor that has no bearing on this story but for some reason really sticks in my mind.
The hour drive each way gave us time to talk and as we neared Portland, she suggested we continue at a little dessert place called Rimsky's. It's in an old Victorian house. Young classical musicians play in the evening. Very romantic. Afterwards it dawns on me (very thick head) that Cathy is trying to put the moves on me. Yes!
Two weeks before the end of the class, she proposes we celebrate our partnership with a night out on the town. On the big evening, I score maximum points on the Doofus Meter: 1) I'm wearing the black polyester suit, 2) I'm driving Grandma's Ford Grenada, 3) I bring her a corsage (which she valiantly attempts but fails to attach to her blue taffata dress).
I take her to an under age dance club because I like to dance and, hey, I was an innocent 19 year old to her sophisticated 21. That lasted about 3 dances before the weirdness of the shaking our groove thangs next to high school freshmen became a trifle too much. I selected a moderately nice restaurant in Old Town where we, in spite of the coughs and sputters of the date, managed to sustain a certain repartee.
Thinking ahead, she had stashed a very fine bottle of champagne in the car and as we drove up to the Rose Gardens to enjoy it, big band jazz flowed out of the a.m. radio speaker and droplets of rain painted the windshield.
It was beautiful. The view of the city. The glorious dry champagne. And this gorgeous woman who was now wading in the fountain.
The night ended perfectly in the car outside her house with a smoochfest which fogged the windows. That was how it all started. Eight years later I was eating (well, eating maybe isn't the right word) cake from her hand. And on Monday, fifteen years later, I'll look back on that improbable meeting in that dorm basement and smile.
I'm still odd/awed.
Happy Anniversary (7th), Baby / Got you on my mind.
p.s. "I wasn't ruthlessly jammed onto the new days notification list against my will like most people were, but I'd like to be abused in a similar fashion."
|previously on days of naze:
what have you done for
|May you never be more active
when you are doing nothing.
|in the feedbag:
book: Citizen Soldier by Stephen Ambrose - December 1944 in the Ardennes, the Christmas from Hell.
mag: Mr. Rogers makes the cover of Esquire. Can you say Zen Master?
vcr: Dersu Ozala by Akira Kurasowa (and to assure you that I'm not watching these movies to impress you); The Wedding Singer, which was amusing at about 4 different moments.
server crashes in the woods,
does it make any noise?