My mother and I were rehearsing our tap dance routine for “Katz! The Musical!” on the makeshift stage for the first time. As we were “Shufflin’ Off to Buffalo,” Richard’s mother, Harriet, was running over to say hello.
Harriet told us she was on the Dinner Party Committee for the benefit and was looking forward to watching us perform in the show in a few weeks. Harriet said she’d tell Richard she saw me and tell him to come see us in the show. She also said she’d tell him to call me.
I hadn’t seen Harriet since Richard and I dated in high school four years earlier. Even though Richard was the nicest guy I’d ever met, I broke up with him before we left for college. We were going to different schools, and I thought I wanted to dip my toe in what turned out to be more of a cesspool than a dating pool.
Well, that was stupid. As it turned out, Richard really was the nicest guy I’d ever met.
I had been thinking about Richard for months, ever since I’d transferred from Indiana University to Lake Forest College to finish my Creative Writing degree. Since I was living at home, I wanted to get in touch with him but didn’t know where he was living or what he was doing.
I was also a freelance reporter for “The Singles Spirit,” a newspaper for singles (duh) published by my brother-in-law Sam. Part of my job was doing interviews about people, places, and things, you know, basically nouns.
I started to think I’d run into Harriet for a reason. Maybe it was Divine Intervention at the Temple, which, by the way, would make an excellent name for a band.
I ran into Harriet again two weeks later at Burlington Coat Factory. How could that be explained? It had to be Divine Intervention at the discount coat store, which, by the way, would not make an excellent name for a band.
Harriet told me Richard had graduated from Miami University with a degree in Theater. He was living at home and working at Steppenwolf.* She asked me if Richard had called. I told her he hadn’t. She rolled her eyes and again said she would tell him to call me.
All my life I’ve been told I have an over-overachieving imagination so it was perfectly normal for me to think that Richard hadn’t called because he hated me for breaking up with him before we left for college.
I hated me for breaking up with him, too.
But, since I’d run into Harriet twice in two weeks, I knew I had been given whatever the Divine equivalent is of a thumbs up to find Richard.
The only longish-term boyfriend I had in college was Jeff. I’d ended our relationship when I realized he wasn’t that great of a boyfriend; just ask all the other girls he was dating behind my back while we were going out.
I should have known our relationship was doomed; Jeff threw up on our first date.
I’ve been told I make things much harder than they need to be. I could have just called Richard, but that would have been too normal.
And what would I say if I called? “Hi! It’s me! The girl who broke up with you! Want to go on a date?”
I needed to find a way to accidentally bump into Richard on purpose so he could just start falling in love with me all over again.
But how? I knew I’d need help, and I knew just who to call.
Laura Wool has always been my partner in misdemeanors. When we put our heads together anything was possible. She was the beauty and the brains. I was there, too.
I called Woolie and said, “Here’s the 411. I have an Alfa, Beta, Foxtrot, Richard, and I’m bringing bagels.” Woolie said, “Roger that, Chester! I got your 6. Be here at 14:00 on Saturday. I’ve got lox and cream cheese. We’ll think of something.”
And, we did. We decided I needed to stalk him.
Since Harriet told me Richard graduated with a degree in theater and worked at Steppenwolf, I assumed he was an actor.
All I had to do was call Steppenwolf and set up a time to interview the actor Richard Korengold for “The Singles Spirit.”
I just needed a nom de plume and a phone number he wouldn’t recognize.
Laura got to know Richard when he and I dated in high school, but he didn’t know her phone number. So, Laura said we should use her phone number to leave as a call back number at Steppenwolf.
But, what if Richard actually called?
Laura came up with fake names for both of us. If Richard called my fake number which was Laura’s real number to reach the fake me, the fake her would take a message faking that she worked for the newspaper, too.
During the next week I called Steppenwolf several times and left messages for Richard. He didn’t call back which almost always makes doing an interview so much harder.
Well, I never heard back from Richard, and, as far as I know, he didn’t come to see mom and me in “Katz! The Musical!” but I wasn’t going to let a few minor details like that get in my way.
I was determined to keep my eye on the prize. I was not going to give up. And, if I found him, I was going to marry him anyway.
*Richard was not an actor at Steppenwolf. He worked in the box office. I’d been leaving messages for him with the business office instead of the theatre, and no one ever told him I’d called. Somehow, the Managing Director of Steppenwolf Theatre intercepted my messages and asked Richard if he had been telling people he was an actor in The Company.
Also, Richard’s actual degree is a B.S. in Business Administration with a Minor in Theater Arts Management. He had acted in plays at Miami University, but was always cast as the bartender whose only appearance was in the final scene.
This post is another chapter of my book-in-progress I Married him Anyway.
These related posts can be found at lesliejochase.com/blog/
Do You Shave?
There he Stood in the Doorway
The 2018 All About Richard Calendar
Where Suggestions go to Die