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!

Katz! The Musical!

 

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.

He didn’t.

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.

He didn’t.

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.

Simple enough.

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/

Harriet’s Symphonette

Do You Shave?

Halloween 1984

There he Stood in the Doorway

The 2018 All About Richard Calendar

Where Suggestions go to Die

Mercury is Retrograde and so is Uranus

I had never heard of Mercury retrograde until my friend Sharon Rosenzweig enlightened me. While sipping tea at her house one day a few years ago, I mentioned that everything in my life seemed to be going awry and askew and I couldn’t figure out why.

Sharon said, “Well, Mercury is in retrograde.”

I said, “Well, that’s nice, but what does that have to do with anything?”

Ever so patient Sharon explained that people tend to misunderstand each other, transportation can get messed up, and lots of other things can easily go wonky when Mercury is in that cycle. She also told me that the periods before and after retrograde can get messed up, too.

“That’s like my sister Beth,” I said. “She goes wonky before, during and after her cycle. In fact, she doesn’t have PMS; she has AMS!” 

I’m sure I gnaw away at Sharon’s patience, but she never shows it. 

According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, “The planet Mercury rules communication, travel, contracts, and automobiles… So, when Mercury is retrograde, remain flexible, allow extra time for travel, and avoid signing contracts…” 

Actually, Mercury retrograde is an illusion that happens several times each year. When Mercury is in retrograde it appears to move backwards. But, “Mercury is just moving slower than Earth, causing the illusion that it’s moving in retrograde,” according to “Mother Nature Network.” 

While most astrologers and just plain regular folk believe that Mercury retrograde can mess things up in life, most scientists think the whole thing is just plain hooey.

In his blog “Bad Astronomy” Phil Plait wrote an entry titled “Astrology in retrograde” in the October 3rd, 2008 issue of “Discover” magazine. He wrote, “I was called by MSNBC reporter Helen Popkin yesterday because she was doing an article on astrology. And she stumped me with a simple question: “Have you heard,” she asked “about the idea that electronics tend to fail when Mercury is in retrograde?”

Uh. What?

I hadn’t heard of this little piece of nonsense, but according to Ms. Popkin, sure enough, some astrologers say that technology tends to fail more when Mercury is in retrograde… Since, astrologically, Mercury controls communication and technology, when it’s in retrograde things get screwed up. That’s why Hubble is malfunctioning, and why the LHC (I had to look this up: Large Hadron Collider) is having woes.

Yeeeeeeah. Oooooookay.

So for the next half hour we chatted technology, we chatted Mercury, we chatted astrology. You can guess how I feel about all this astrology stuff.”

He went on to say that Ms. Popkin had written “a fluffy humor piece, not really meant to sway people either way. I smiled a lot while reading it, even though astrologers make me want to stick my head in the microwave.”

Well, this is my fluffy humor piece! I am not of science or astrology, but I believe! So, go ahead and stick your head in the microwave, Mr. Plait.

I ask you, “How do you explain this?”

And, if scientific proof is needed, let’s go back in time two weeks to Thanksgiving weekend when winter storm “Bruce” caused, among other things, nearly 3,000 flight cancellations.

Was Mercury in retrograde then? As a matter of fact it was! 

“Bruce” dumped so much snow it was as if the heavy-duty laxatives it had been taking all month finally kicked in.

Many people say that when Mercury is in retrograde we should slow down, as Mercury appears to, and take time to reflect upon ourselves without placing blame.

So, during this time of reflection, I’d like to apologize to Mr. Plait. After watching a video of Taylor Swift explaining the ways in which Mercury in retrograde destroys our lives, I, too, would like nothing more than to stick my head in the microwave.

In the November, 16, 2018 article on vlox.com called “Mercury retrograde, explained without astrologythere’s an embedded video of Swift who says that when Mercury is in retrograde, “You can’t blame yourself. You just have to blame Mercury ‘cause it’s just hella in retrograde.” Oy.

If I really wanted to, I could find out when Mercury will be in retrograde in the future, but I’m afraid that if I know I’ll just sit in the dark worrying and waiting.

Conversely, if I know when Mercury will be out of retrograde, I’ll have no excuses during that time for being lazy, unproductive, and disorganized. 

I prefer the element of surprise, so I simply ask Google, “Is Mercury in retrograde?” Usually, I get this response:

I’m always surprised when I ask and get this response:

But, in case you’re wondering, Mercury will return to its regularly scheduled orbit on November 7th, 2018 and won’t be in retrograde again until March 5, 2019.

It might interest you to know that ALL planets go into retrograde at some point; Mercury just gets the worst rap because of its ability to throw shade on so many important things in life.

You can do the astrological math to find out which planet rules your sign and how it might affect you when it goes into retrograde. But, to make it more fun, why not use that idea as a pick-up line at your company’s holiday party? “Hi! Which planet rules your astrological sign, when does it go into retrograde, and how does this phenomenon affect you?” I didn’t say it was a great line, but it’s something to think about.

I’d like to end with this: I feel it is my duty to inform you that the gassy planet Uranus has entered Aries and just won’t leave until January 7, 2019. My birthday is January 7th, so Mom, I can’t go out to dinner that night because I need to sit here and wait for the gas to pass.

 

P.S. I am still working on my book I Married him Anyway; I just wanted to write about Mercury while it’s still retrograding. 

 

Harriet’s Symphonette

Richard and Uncle D brought my father-in-law, Howard Leslie Korengold, aka Papa Howie, back home from Florida. He’s in good health (poo, poo, poo a million times) and is living in an apartment in a retirement community nearby.

Did you catch that his middle name is “Leslie?” But wait! There’s more! My mother-in-law (may she rest in peace) was Harriet, which is my mother’s middle name. My nephew is Joseph Maurice; Richard’s grandfather was Maurice Joseph. It’s all very Lincoln/Kennedy, but I digress.

Papa Howie has been mailing me his hand-written memoirs for years, and refers to me as his “Literary Agent.” I am honored that he trusts me, the most disorganized person in the world, with the only copy of his stories.

Howard is a creative and brilliant man. For instance, after Richard and I became engaged, Howard said, “If Richard hadn’t proposed, I would have.” See what I mean? He’s brilliant!

To celebrate his return home, I’d like to share a book he wrote and illustrated many years ago called “Harriet’s Symphonette.”