Romance redux (because I love the word redux)

“You were comfortable to be around, smart, funny, not bad looking and there was great chemistry.”

RomanceSo I answer New York Erratic’s question about romance, about me being a good listener. Yet I seem to have disappointed: “That wasn’t the answer I was expecting for the ‘getting girls’ question, but it makes tremendous sense when I think about it.” But I wasn’t some smooth talkin’ dude.

Still, I wrote, in an e-mail titled I’ll take another shot if you give me parameters: “Not sure what kind of answer I could give you about romance. Among other things, I hardly ever pursued a woman, because I’m painfully shy. So she had to be a friend at some level first…” (Indeed, Dustbury speaks well of the anxiety guys like me experienced all the time.)

The reply: “I think you gave a great answer, but I was thinking more like skills or knowledge. Music always thrills me, as does trivia and poetry. 🙂 I know you don’t write poetry, but hasn’t any girl ever said ‘Wow, I love your ___________’ or ‘I think it’s so cool you know _________’?”

Well, not to my recollection. Although “OK. But the air guitar really did lead me to one girlfriend!”

“:-) Humor counts.”

So I asked my wife. She said it was because I was (and apparently still am) so expressive when I sing in the church choir, and that was what made her first notice me.

Then I asked an ex. She wrote: “You grew on me over time. Not very much time, it is true, but sometimes. You were comfortable to be around, smart, funny, not bad looking and there was great chemistry.” She later added: “It wasn’t really a conscious process. I just fell in love.”

I can guess another ex was taken by my love for the Academy Awards and the soap opera Another World. But maybe humor, too, although I cannot give you details. (I DO have some limits.)

I got nothing else, short of asking more exes, and I’m kind of disinclined to do that.
On a related topic, NYE: I overheard this conversation in the work cafeteria. The young woman broke up with her girlfriend, who had seemed to be devoted to her, perhaps overly so. She was telling her friend how unnerved by the fact that her ex was now seeing someone else. I restrained myself from telling her that I knew EXACTLY how she felt because I HAVE been there.


40 Years After: May 1971

She apologized but said she had started seeing someone else, so she had to break up with me.

Here’s a new thing I’m doing on this blog: a periodic recollection of my freshman year, into the beginning of my sophomore year, of college. These were significant events that had medium-to-long-term consequences in my life. If I had the discipline, it’d be an essay or one way-too-long blogpost.

I won’t be writing them even every month, but in September of this year, then in February, May, June, August, and October of next year; maybe a couple of other times. I’ll probably link back to the previous episodes, but I’m not going to write the whole thing then chop it up. But the background from the previous segments should inform the subsequent pieces if I do it write, or right.

I went to college where I did because my girlfriend was already there. But that didn’t exactly work out as I planned.

In the fall of 1970, I was in the second half of my senior year at Binghamton (NY) Central High School, and I would be graduating in January 1971. Meanwhile, my girlfriend, who was six months older than I, was a freshman at the State University of New York at New Paltz, about 150 miles away, in a small town along the Hudson River about halfway between New York City and Albany.

I would visit her at the all-female Bliss Hall when I could, which was difficult because there was no direct bus there. There was no train, and I would have had to take two buses, through New York City or through Albany, to get there by that mode.

The easiest way was to hitchhike. But this not to say it was simple. I had to go from Route 17, an interstate-type road to these series of local roads (52, 209, 44/55, and finally 299) to New Paltz.

I visited her once or twice in the fall and saw her at Christmastime, and perhaps once in the winter.

Then I got a job working at IBM in March 1971. It was allegedly 40 hours a week, from 5:12 p.m. to 2 a.m., with a 48-minute lunch break, but business was good, and I generally worked a 56-hour workweek, i.e., 5:12 p.m. to 4 a.m., then Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. As a result, I was very tired but too tired to spend any money, and I socked away enough for my first year in college by the time I quit in August.

One weekend in May, I must have had a rare Saturday off, so I decided to surprise the girlfriend by hitching out to New Paltz. I got to Bliss Hall, and her hall neighbors said that she wasn’t there. But I had met them a couple of times and they seemed a little weird.

Finally, the girlfriend shows up. She apologized but said she had started seeing someone else, so she had to break up with me. Needless to say, I was devastated, and left. I contacted my friend Steve, who was across the river in Poughkeepsie, hitched over there (or maybe she gave me a ride; I’m not sure), and he commiserated with me. I specifically remember him going on and on about this great singer/guitarist named Bonnie Raitt, who I had never heard of, but who he had seen perform in the area; her debut album would come out later that year.

Then I hitched home.

Did I mention that New Paltz, where I had been accepted, was the ONLY college I applied to? So I’ll be going away to this particular college in the fall for, as it turned out, no particular reason.


Yup, another quiz

I’ve been a renter most of my life, and I think at some level, I still have a renter’s heart.

Stolen, as is often the case, from Jaquandor, who stole it as well.

1. The phone rings; who don’t you want it to be?

You know, I just want it to be someone I know. I love the answering machine. I especially love caller ID. Do we screen our calls? You betcha! All these folks with PRIVATE or blocked phone numbers we wait to hear their voice on the machine. Friends, we pick up…
The only person who knows my cellphone number is one of my sisters. I don’t even know it, I use it so infrequently. I have no desire to be available 24/7.

2. When shopping at the grocery store, do you return your cart?

There’s a designed area in the parking lot; I return it there. Though before they had them, I always returned them to the store.

3. In a social setting, are you more of a talker or a listener?

Listener, unless I’ve had at least two glasses of wine.

4. What was the last compliment that someone gave you?

“You’re a good dad.” This was not from my wife or daughter, BTW. She may be right, for all I know.

5. Do you play the lottery?

Yeah, when it’s over $100 million and I think of it, which is maybe twice a year.

6. If abandoned alone in the wilderness, who would you want with you?

If I were abandoned alone, I wouldn’t HAVE anyone with me. OK, I’ll pick Clark Kent. Even if he didn’t want to reveal his secret identity, his strength and other powers could come in handy.

7. Do you like to ride horses?

Other than ponies as a kid, the only time I did was June 9, 1976, after my very first hangover; not recommended.

8. Did you ever go to camp as a kid?

My family went camping for years. Tent, air mattress, Coleman lantern, and stove. I hated it.

9. What is your favorite party game?

Seriously, what is considered a party game? Charades I don’t hate, but I’m not a big fan. What else?

10. If a sexy person was pursuing you, but you knew he/she was married, would you go for it?

Assuming I were available…well, no. Relationships are complicated, and third parties often complicate them more.

11. When was the last time that you lied?

Probably some half-truth to the Daughter about keeping EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF ARTWORK SHE’S EVER DRAWN.

12. Could you date someone with different religious beliefs than you?

I have, and it’s created difficulties. Not a dealbreaker, but not optimal.

13. If you have a S/O, who pursued who? If not, do you like to pursue or be pursued?

I think was mutual pursuit the first time out, but I certainly pursued the last time around.

14. Use six words to describe yourself.

Learned, contemplative introvert posing as extrovert.

15. Name a song that could make you cry?

There are lots. Sometimes tears of joy. On the other hand: “Sweet Bitter Love” by Aretha.

16. Are you pleased with your education?

Yes, I am. Best thing I learned in junior high: diagramming sentences.

17. How do you feel about gun control?

Why does one NEED an automatic weapon? Apparently, a lot of American guns end up in Mexico, contributing to the death toll there. If you have rules for driving a car, then some sort of regulation of guns (background check, waiting period) seems reasonable. The Second Amendment is no more absolute than the First Amendment is.

18. If your house was on fire, what thing would be the first thing you grabbed?

My metal file box, which contains my passport, my SS card, and some genealogy stuff.

19. How often do you have a romantic weekend?

A whole weekend? Maybe once every 10 years.

20. Do you think more about the past, present, or future?

Yes. The past informs the present; won’t do THAT again, including something in this very quiz. the future is hope, but the future is uncertain, so living in the present is all we really have.

21. What was the last adult magazine that you have read?

Probably the Playboy magazine that had a follow-up John Lennon piece after the January 1981 interview.

22. What are you told about your eyes?

I’m told that they are attractive, much to my surprise.

23. How tall is just right?

For me, my current height.

24. Where is your dream house located?

Is San Simeon available? Seriously, I’ve been a renter most of my life, and I think at some level, I still have a renter’s heart. If I OWN things, I have to MAINTAIN things. Or as a speaker, I heard once said: “The two happiest days in a boat owner’s life is the day he buys the boat, and the day he sells it.”

25. Do you have a secret fetish?

Why would I tell you? Then it wouldn’t be a secret. Actually, not sure that I do.

26. Have you tried bourbon? If yes, what type?

Yup. Jack Daniel’s, obviously, and a few others. It was my drink of choice in college, with ginger ale. (Purists are booing – I hear ya.)

27. Have you ever seen a male or female stripper?


28. When was the last time you were at TGI Fridays?

Years ago, for dinner with a group. I don’t recall the occasion. It was OK.

29. When was the last time you were at Church?


30. Where was the furthest place you traveled today?

Yesterday it was to church; today, I have off and I’m hoping that it’ll be no farther than the local CVS drug store four blocks away unless I ride my bike for exercise.

31. What was your favorite job?

Probably the one I’m working now, though the job at FantaCo was great for a time. And the job at the Schenectady Arts Council in 1978 was nice but lasted only ten-and-a-half months.

32. What condiments do you like at your BBQ?

Mustard on hot dogs, ketchup and mustard on hamburgers, onions on sausage, BBQ sauce on chicken and ribs.

33. Bud is hosting Thursday Thunks this week. Will you play?

Probably not. I think one or two of these a week is enough. (It’s not the writing that’s time-consuming; it’s the visiting. I do these Sunday Stealing things and don’t even post them in Sunday Stealing.)

34. Do you look like your mom or dad?

If you saw me with my dad at Carol’s and my wedding in May 1999, you’d say absolutely related. Just last month, someone on Facebook who knew my dad – this guy and I went to elementary school together – says I look just like my dad.

35. Who was the last person that you showered with (it’s okay to leave out the name)?

Well, the answer here is who you think it would be, but I’m not saying that outright, because, well, you know…. (Answer stolen).

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