Background: How We Started Dating

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So that’s how Holly and I met.  Here’s how we started dating.

Maybe a year after her announcement that she knew my secret identity–after we’d spent much time in class together, catching concerts, eating meals, participating in study groups, not always with other friends and fellow students present either, but my point here is after we’d gotten to know each other quite well in circles platonic, more or less–I realized I was thoroughly stricken, smitten, and afflicted.

I remember the February day this hit me, in fact, though this is not exactly what led to our first date.  We were catching a lunch together at a Chinese buffet.  Hey, it was raining and cold outside and dry and warm inside and the company was pleasant so don’t hack the choice of cuisine!  Anyway, Holly was at this time dating a guy she’d met in San Luis Obispo over Christmas break, a long-distance relationship that seemed off to a good enough start, though I remained somewhat skeptical.  But some trigger was pulled in me that day, eating an egg roll and drinking hot tea from a way-too-small cup across the table from her.  I was acting goofy.  And I became aware of my goofiness.  And despite my attempts at reining it in I couldn’t seem to get control.  Something inside was no doubt off-kilter, a kind of dizziness, but not, if you get what I mean.  And it hit me at once that I was a little jealous of this SLO guy.

Now, Holly is a perceptive person, this much at least I knew already.  So, perhaps abruptly, sensing my inner drama and not wanting it to become any more outward than it already had, “I gotta go study,” I said, “see ya in class tomorrow,” and left.

Incidentally, when I rehashed this scene with Holly later, maybe on our honeymoon or something like it, she said she hadn’t noticed anything.  Perhaps she’s just being kind.

Also at this time I was living with four other guys in a big house in town.  It was a four bedroom house, so somehow three of us decided we would share two of the bedrooms, making one a sleep area and the other a study area.  Might sound nice for the other two who got their own rooms, but, crazy, it worked out well, so well in fact that the three of us guys–Derek, Paul, and I–decided to spend Spring Break together that year.

My dad let us borrow an old van–this a 1976 Sportsman, an upgrade from the 1968 model–which we fitted out with a place to sleep over a place to keep snow skis, camping equipment, and luggage.  We did just about everything you can do in eight days in March in the western U. S.  We drove from southern California, where we’d retrieved the van, to Lake Tahoe where Derek had access to a family cabin for spending a night and trying our luck at nearby slots; then through Nevada to Utah where we skied at Snowbird; then to Colorado where we holed up for one night in Rifle and camped the next just outside the Garden of the Gods in freezing weather; then to southern Utah where we camped, fished, and swam in Lake Powell–and Derek ran over a few hares, we all hiked some natural arches, and Paul nearly destroyed the van; and finally back to southern California.  All three of us were in between dating relationships at the time.  None of us had brought razors; and if my memory serves one or two even forgot toothbrushes.  (Paul visited me just last week in fact and we couldn’t help reminiscing over this very trip.)

Having barely made it back to school in time for spring quarter then, as I walked across the courtyard in front of the music building, who should I see but Holly?  Mind you, I still hadn’t shaved since before leaving for Colorado, something like ten days before.  She smiled nevertheless.  And after I’d barely said hello she said, still smiling,

“Guess what?”

“Uh, what?”

“Darren and I broke up.”

“Oh,” I said, stalling for time, thrilled as a roller coaster ride inside but looking for signs outside.  She was still smiling, maybe even more broadly.  But was that enough?  “So, um,” I decided to risk it all, “let me take you out to a movie, er, to cheer you up?”

“Okay!”  No hesitation.  No reticence.  Nothing.

Well, no way was I as perceptive as she, but at least this time it seemed to be working out.

Next night we dined at Cafe Italia and took in an appropriate movie for music majors, Beethoven.  Except it wasn’t about the musician at all, just some St. Bernard pups.  But I couldn’t have cared less.

The following day I overheard Holly telling a fellow music student, Helena, that I’d taken her out last night.

“Finally!” Helena smiled.  A lot of other students agreed, and maybe even a faculty member or two, when Helena shared Holly’s news out loud.

By some strange serendipity, Derek and Paul were in dating relationships again within a week.

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