The City of Big Shoulder Pads

In case you missed the past few chapters of I Married him Anyway, here’s a quick synopsis:

I’d broken up with Jeff, my college boyfriend, after finding out we had different ideas of what it meant to be in a relationship. I thought we were dating exclusively but found out he was dating so many other girls behind my back his idea of a relationship was as all-inclusive as a resort in Cancun.

I’d moved back home after transferring from I.U. to Lake Forest College to finish up my Creative Writing degree. I was also working part-time as a reporter for “The Singles Spirit,” a newspaper published by my brother-in-law, Sam. 

It had been four years since I’d last seen or spoken to Richard, the nicest guy I’d ever met. I realized I’d made a horrible mistake by breaking up with him in high school and had been wanting to get in touch with him, but my over-achieving imagination led me to believe he’d want nothing to do with me.

Twice, out of the blue, I’d run into Richard’s mother, Harriet. Divine Intervention was intervening! Harriet told me Richard had moved back home to Glencoe after graduating from Miami University with a Theater Arts degree and was working at Steppenwolf Theatre. Both times I saw her she said she’d tell him to call me, and both times he didn’t.

Was he playing hard to get, or did he hate me? There was only one way to find out. I needed a plan to try to win him back but I couldn’t do it alone. I called in reinforcements: Laura.

We decided that all I had to do was call Steppenwolf Theatre and leave a message for the actor, Richard Korengold, saying I wanted to interview him for an article I was writing for “The Singles Spirit.”

Obviously I couldn’t say who I really was, so when I left messages I used a fake name and Laura’s phone number to throw Richard off course. If and when Richard returned my call, Laura was going to take a message for the fake me and arrange a time for the interview at Steppenwolf. Richard would be expecting the fake me, but the real me would show up, instead. He’d take one look at me and, after an extensive makeover from Laura, start falling in love with me all over again. 

The only reason the plan didn’t work was because he never called.

Ok. You’re all caught up now!

I finally decided to act like a normal person, to the best of my ability, and just call Richard. He seemed genuinely happy to hear from me, so I threw caution to the wind and asked him to be my date for an upcoming ORT dinner dance. He accepted and said, “Why wait two weeks? Are you free this Saturday night?”

 

Saturday, November 12, 1983, ORT Dinner Dance
Get date! Got date!

 

On November 5th, 1983, Richard and I were finally on our first date The Second Time Around.

After dinner we went for a drive in the red 1974 Duster I’d been in so many times before. I relaxed into my seat, happy to finally be on a date with Richard again.

I wished I hadn’t wasted so much time letting my imagination, once again, run away with me.

Or, had I?

Richard parked the car at the entrance to the Glencoe beach that night at 11:00 PM and suggested we go for a moonlit walk down to the shore. I began to think something was fishy. Before I knew it, my over-achieving imagination kicked into overdrive.

Maybe Richard was still mad at me for breaking up with him in high school. Maybe he had spent the past four years devising seemingly innocent yet diabolical ways to get back at me.

Why were we going on a moonlit stroll when there was no moonlight by which to stroll? 

There were also no streetlights. Or witnesses.

I was still under the impression that Richard was an actor with The Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Was he so good at his craft that he’d been pretending he was happy to be with me that night, all the while planning to leave me swimming with the fresh water fishes of Lake Michigan?

We made our way around the metal gate that prevented cars from going down the driveway after 9:00 PM when the beach officially closed each night.

So, it was cold and dark and the beach was closed. Why didn’t I just tell Richard I’d prefer to be somewhere warm, well-lit, and open for business? Because telling him would have gotten in the way of my habit of making things much harder than they needed to be.

I could tell the driveway was steep because as soon as we began our descent from the precipice my toes were facing south. There was no tow-rope, or a phone booth with instructions on how to reach the on-call Sherpa.

I was dressed for a date, not rappelling. Richard was wearing Wallabees hiking boots. I was wearing Corkys Wedges, which, to my knowledge, have never been featured in “Field and Stream.” 

The only thing keeping my Corkys from sliding out from underneath me was the combined width of the shoulder pads in my Norma Kamali blouse and winter coat ricochetting me between the retaining walls, turning me into a human Weeble.

Any woman who ever wore Norma Kamali clothing knew the shoulder pads were so big they were supposed to be worn in either a blouse or a coat, but not both. But looking like a linebacker that night probably kept me from face-planting over my Corkys.

There’s nothing more offensive than shoulder pad buildup – – Isaac Mizrahi

Norma Kamali wearing Norma Kamali with only one set of shoulder pads

I finally told Richard I wanted to go back up to the car. I tried to turn around but couldn’t. Due to lake-effect humidity, my shoulder pads had inflated, wedging me between the embankments.

To my surprise and relief Richard came to my rescue. He gently exfoliated me from between the retaining walls and helped me back up the hill. Due to the size of my shoulder pads, and my hair, he had to physically stuff me back into his car.

As he drove me home he told me he thought going for a walk along the shore in the dark would have been romantic. So as not to sound crazy, I decided not to tell him what had been going on in my head. Instead I told him about the plan Laura and I had come up with, as if confessing to stalking someone at their place of employment was something normal people did.

“That was you?”

Uh-oh.

Richard said he’d never received the messages I’d left but he knew about them because the Managing Director of Steppenwolf had intercepted them. He confronted Richard and asked him if he had been claiming to be an actor with the Steppenwolf Company. Richard worked in the box office.

Thankfully, my antics hadn’t gotten him fired. The last thing I wanted was for things to get awkward.

He parked the car in my parents’ driveway. As he leaned over to kiss me someone started wildly pounding on the passenger side window. 

I looked up, and there was Jeff.

 

Related posts at lesliejochase.com:

Do You Shave?

The 2018 All About Richard Calendar (part I)

There he Stood in the Doorway

The 2018 All About Richard Calendar, April

Halloween 1984

Katz! The Musical!

15 Comments

  1. I love this! You are talented and hilarious! I love how Richard loves you!

    • Thank you so much, Elizabeth! You’re the best! Yes! I’m very lucky…and so is he!

  2. Can’t wait for the next chapter

  3. Well done! I could picture everything. I remember wearing shoulder pads too! That was so scary about Jeff pounding on your window

    • Scary, but true!

    • I think women with long necks looked great in Norma Kamali. The shoulder pads looked like ear muffs on me, and my earring backs always ended up embedded in them somewhere.

  4. OMG, OMG! Can’t wait to read what happened next!!!! 😱

  5. wow, super creepy with the window knocking from jeff and super great about richard.

  6. Can’t wait to read the upcoming chapters. What a catch I was, you lucky girl!!

  7. Great story Leslie! I also have a shoulder pad experience from the 80’s. Had dropped my daughter off at pre-school and was really tired on this particular day. Went home to get a nap before I had to return for pick-up. Set my alarm for 30 minutes earlier than I needed to as I wanted to run a few quick errands. Took off my shirt as I didn’t want it to be all wrinkled from napping in bed. Alarm went off and I jumped up, put on my shirt, and headed out the door. Stopped at the dry cleaners and ran into the grocery store — I had encounters at both places with people I knew (not to mention everyone else that saw me). Got to the preschool just on time, picked up Whitney, and drove back home. Upon arriving at home, I happened to look in a mirror and realized that while I had run those errands, talked to those friends, and picked up Whitney, the entire time I was wearing my shirt inside out with the shoulder pads on the outside! Mortified I called my friend at the dry cleaners to ask what she thought when she saw me and why she didn’t say anything. Her response was that she “didn’t want to embarrass” me. Really?

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