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?”


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.


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Do You Shave?

This is a chapter from my book-in-progress, I Married him Anyway.

“Do you shave?” Richard asked me.

We were on our “First Date; The Second Time Around.” “The First Time Around” was when we dated on and off during high school. We’d break up every summer when he’d leave for camp. After all, I needed my freedom.

After seeing a student production of “Once Upon a Mattress” at Lake Forest College, we stopped for dinner at The Aardvark Pub. As we waited for our orders to arrive, we sipped our Cokes, talked about the Star Wars movies, college, our parents, siblings, and even our dogs.

Up until he’d asked me if I shaved, being out with Richard that night was so easy, comfortable, and familiar. I was so happy to have found him (more on that in another chapter) and that he wasn’t dating anyone at the time.

We both seemed happy to be in each others’ company. We picked up right where we’d left off four years earlier, except we were now four years older, and much more mature.

Well, I was. He needed a few more years in the oven.

I remembered Richard as being the nicest guy I’d ever met. I was going to be moving back home after attending Indiana University so I could finish up my English, Creative Writing degree at Lake Forest College. I hoped Richard had come home from Miami of Ohio and was living with his parents.

While at I.U., every frog I’d kissed wasn’t capable of turning into a prince, and I chucked every fish I’d dated back into the sea. I was in yet another a dead-end, unhealthy relationship at the time. In fact, it was so dead, it needed to end.

I finally realized it was time to be in a meaningful relationship with someone who I cared about, and who cared about me. I just knew Richard was that person, and I couldn’t get him, and his hair, out of my mind.

On a puddle-jumper from Bloomington, IN to Chicago, the only other passenger on the plane was Barb, a mutual friend of Richard’s and mine. She was sitting across the aisle from me. Coincidence? I don’t believe in them.

Before the plane took off, and it was quiet enough for us to hear each other, Barb and I caught up on life. The topic of conversation finally landed on Richard. I told Barb how much I’d missed him, and asked her if she knew where he was, and what he was doing. She didn’t, but she gave me great advice, and I’ll always be grateful to her for that.

So, after transferring to Lake Forest College, I began a quest to find Richard. If I was successful, I was going to ask him out.

That’s all I had to do, but, as I’ve always been told, I make things more difficult than they have to be. I didn’t just call him; I took the scenic route.

With Barb’s words of wisdom in my head, and a lot of help from my friend, Laura, which involved stalking Richard, and several other misdemeanors (which I’ll elaborate on at another time,) I was finally on a date with Richard.

And, that’s when he said those three little words.

It was such a strange question, I wasn’t even sure I understood what he meant.

“Do I shave what?” I thought to myself. “Poodles? Sheep? A little off the top?”

I still needed time to process his question.

Thankfully, our food arrived, giving me a few more seconds to try to formulate an answer.

So, I picked up a French fry, and said, “Well, I get my legs waxed, if that’s what you mean.”

He glanced up from his plate. The expression on his face looked like I had just told him one of my favorite hobbies was blood-letting. He had obviously never heard of waxing.

I thought that if I explained what waxing was, I’d get closer to understanding why he wanted to know if I shaved. “Well, it’s kind of like shaving,” I said.

He looked relieved.

“Was that what you meant? I asked, as I picked up another fry.

“Yes,” he said, with a smile. I was happy I had finally cracked his code.

I took a bite out of my burger, being careful to be lady-like and chew with my mouth closed, waiting to speak until I’d finished swallowing, and asked, “Why did you ask me if I shaved?”

I picked up another fry, dipped it in ketchup, and was about to take a bite out of it when he said, “I wanted to find out if you were one of those European-types who doesn’t shave her legs and armpits.”

I dropped my fry. Getting reacquainted was one thing; asking me if I had hairy armpits was an entirely different animal.

Barely looking up from his plate, therefore not seeing the look of bewildered disgust on my face, he said, “I was just wondering if you’d become one of those chicks who went away to college, and decided to go all ‘natural,’” he said, while making air-quotes with his fingers.

I was offended on behalf of my friends who had decided to go the “natural route,”and, I finally understood his question. He wanted to make sure, before he “got with that,” which didn’t happen as quickly as he always tells people it did, that my legs and armpits were as smooth and silky as a Mexican Hairless cat.

At least I knew he wanted to see me again.

Let’s get artificial here, for a moment: I looked completely different from the last time he saw me, and he didn’t notice?

I looked the best I ever, or will ever look, thanks to my very gracious, aforementioned friend, Laura, who spent 2 1/2 hours working magic on my face. As a model, Laura knew what she was up against, and was more than happy to put her talent to good use. Maybe she saw me as a challenge.



My own mother didn’t recognize me when I came home from Laura’s house to get dressed before Richard picked me up in his Red 1974 Plymouth Duster.

Laura had applied her own expensive makeup with her own expensive brushes to turn this frizzy duckling into a sparkling swan. She even lent me one of her favorite necklaces. I have to say, I looked exquisite and radiant. And all Richard wanted to know is if I shaved?

Finally, I figured out why Richard hadn’t noticed Laura’s handiwork. There’s a step at the entrance to my parents’ house, so when I opened the front door to let Richard in to pick me up for our date, I stood about six inches taller than he. Richard failed to look at my face, or make direct eye contact because his eyes had made direct boob contact. That’s when he said these five little words, “Nice to see you both.”

I guess I’d overlooked his comment because as soon as I saw him, I fell hopelessly in love and was busy planning our wedding in my head.

A paper bag over my head would have sufficed, as long as the girls were front and center.