There’s a Jeff in the Driveway

Previous blog post: The City of Big Shoulder Pads

When we last left Richard and Leslie…

It had started to rain while Richard drove me home and parked in my parents’ driveway. As he leaned over to kiss me someone started wildly pounding on the passenger side window. 

I looked up and saw Jeff’s face. The rest of his head was covered by a blanket he’d also wrapped around his shoulders. His clenched fists held the two sides of the blanket together at his chest. The rain began dripping down his face and from the blanket. All he needed was a hatchet to complete the look.

Jeff and I had broken up. I hadn’t seen or spoken to him in months. I thought he had moved back home. I was so shocked to see him my shoulder pads deflated.

I didn’t know what else to do so I locked the car door. “Great idea,” I thought to myself, “that’ll help.”

I looked over at Richard who was staring at Jeff.

This had to be the worst end of a first date ever. EVER!

I had to do something. I wasn’t going to let Jeff ruin whatever chance I hoped I still had with Richard so I took a deep breath, unlocked the door, and started to reach for the handle.

“What are you doing?” Richard said. I told him I was going to tell Jeff to leave. I said that I wasn’t afraid to stand up to all 6-feet, 4-inches of him, and that I didn’t want him to feel obligated to get involved. 

But Richard The Brave refused to let me face Jeff alone. It was a rather romantic moment, well, as romantic as a moment like that could be. 

I had no idea what the proper etiquette and protocol was for a that kind of situation, but since we were on my driveway, I was technically the hostess. 

My parents had raised me to be polite in all situations, and, even though I’m sure they would have let this one slide, I felt compelled to introduce Richard to Jeff, and Jeff to Richard. I also thought it would help diffuse the situation, whatever the situation was, if we all appeared to be as calm and cordial as possible. I can’t remember, but I think they shook hands.

I don’t think any of us knew exactly what to do, so we just stood there in the rain. Richard and I looked like soggy, well-dressed parents taking their giant son Trick-or-Treating in his serial killer costume.

Richard offered to stay, and even though I wanted him to, I didn’t want him to be any more involved in this drama than he already was. I told him I could handle the situation. I really didn’t want to talk to Jeff, but I had to. I told Richard I’d call him later that night. I just hoped he’d answer the phone.

Richard watched me walk to the door with Jeff. I rang the doorbell, instead of using my keys, because I knew my father would answer the door. My parents were happy I was no longer seeing Jeff, and were thrilled I was out on a date with Richard that night.

My father looked a little perplexed when he came to the door and saw me standing there with Jeff who looked like a tall version of “Igor” from Young Frankenstein, minus the hump.

As soon as Richard saw that I was safely inside I heard the screech and smelled the burning rubber of the Duster’s tires.

My father told Jeff he could stay and talk to me for ten minutes after which he would call the police. 

I found out later that my father, who was the funniest person I’ve ever known, walked into the bedroom and said to my mother, “I don’t understand. Leslie left with Richard but came home with Jeff.”

Jeff and I walked into the den. He was soaking wet so I didn’t let him sit on my parents’ furniture. I had so many questions, but decided not to say anything. I just stood there, looking at Jeff, waiting for an explanation.

He said he wanted to try to patch things up, so he came to the house. He didn’t ring the bell because he “had a feeling” I had gone out on a date. He had parked his car around the corner so I wouldn’t see it. He was cold so he wrapped himself up in a blanket he just happened to have in his car and hid in my parents’ bushes waiting for me to come home. 

I said, “That’s called stalking.” I asked him to just leave me alone once and for all. He promised he would and left before my father had to call the police. I never heard from him again. 

I went into my bedroom to call Richard. I was relieved when he answered the phone, and happy to hear his voice. 

I never even thought to tell Richard about Jeff because there was nothing to tell. I wouldn’t have blamed Richard if he didn’t want to be my date for the dinner dance the next weekend, but he said he wanted to honor his commitment. Not the most romantic sentiment, but understandable. 

I told myself that everything had to go well the next weekend at the dinner dance. No surprises! I put myself on double secret probation because I knew I’d never get another chance with Richard if anything went wrong.

Nothing terrible happened the night of the dinner dance. However, my front-loading bra burst open causing a “Girls Gone Wild” situation, my mother ran after The Chicago Bears to say hello, and all the cocktail waitresses knew my father and called him, “Normie Baby.” After witnessing all of that, I think Richard was quite amused, and seemed happy with what he had gotten himself into. But I’ll tell you more about that in the next chapter.

Related posts at

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

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

When Mom, Paul, and I Were Famous for 30 Seconds

I’ve always loved to dance; just not in front of an audience. My parents were just the opposite. In fact, my father used to tell everyone, “Dancing is my life!

Mom and Dad Show portraits
Mom and Dad’s Headshots. My father’s famous quote was, “Dancing is my life!”

My parents performed in as many PTA, ORT, and any other shows they could. They could both tap dance, sing, and act. My father also had the gift of knowing precisely when to ad lib a line in a song, causing the entire cast to crack up during live shows. He was like Tim Conway of “The Carol Burnett Show.”

In one particular show, the director wrote new lyrics to the tune of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Each person in the number would stand up to say their line. My father’s line was, “I’ve got a headache,” but each night, when he stood up to say his line, he’d change it. One night, he sang, “I’ve got cramps,” and another night, he sang, “I’ve got gas.” There was no way for the cast to recover, but it was okay, because the people in the audience were laughing so hard, they wouldn’t have been able to compose themselves to hear the rest of the song, anyway.

As much as my mother loved to perform, she would get extremely nervous before each show. It’s no secret…well, it might have been, but, it won’t be after I spill the beans: she almost always tossed her cookies before going onstage. In fact, before every show, the entire cast waited anxiously for her to run to the bathroom to, let’s just say, “purge her nerves.” If she was successful, the cast knew they’d put on a great show. If she didn’t “belt out a tune” in the bathroom, the cast feared the show might not be as good as it could have been, plus there’d be six more weeks of winter, even in the summer.

Paul Chase (or Carlos Santana?) with some of the dancers he performed with in the AADC.
Paul Chase (or Carlos Santana?) with AADC members, c. 1975

Literally wanting to follow in my brother, Paul’s, footsteps, I auditioned for, and was invited to join, Indiana University’s African American Dance Company (AADC) in 1981, which was Founded and Directed by Professor Iris Rosa (ProR0) in 1974.

Photo of the AADC copied from the 38-page program booklet when we performed at the Murat Theatre in Indianapolis in 1981. I kept everything I ever had when I was in the AADC. It was so cool to find the program and see the letters from Richard Lugar, and Dan Quayle inside.
Photo of the AADC copied from the 38-page program when we performed at the Murat Theatre in Indianapolis in 1981.

I loved being a part of the AADC family, but I was never able to shake the sweaty-I’m-not-good-enough-I’m-going-to-faint-I’m-too-fat-feeling I’d always get before taking the stage, even though, for the first and only time in my life, I weighed exactly what my driver’s license said I did.

In the middle of the show at The Murat Theatre in Indianapolis, I decided I was just not going to go onstage during one particular piece. I was one of six dancers in a tap routine. No one would notice I was missing, would they? Normally, no matter how nervous I was, I’d go out, do my thing, and then exit, stage left, or stage right… whichever was closest.

But, this time, I was more nervous than usual because our “costumes” consisted of purple tights, a purple leotard, and tap shoes. Period. Nothing else. I was just one, thin, purple layer of spandex away from being completely naked onstage, except for my tap shoes.

It didn’t help that my boyfriend at the time saw me in all my purple glory, laughed, and said, “You look like a grape!” I dumped him shortly thereafter.

So, the other five dancers took their places onstage as the lights went up, and began tapping away as the music began. Where was I? Hiding in the wings, hoping no one would notice I wasn’t onstage.

Now, when there are only six people in a piece, it’s pretty obvious when one of them is missing; especially when she is the first person listed in the program for that particular dance because her last name begins with a “C.”

ProRo found me cowering in the wings and told me to get my purple butt onstage.

I rolled – – I mean, tapped – – into place onstage, making my entrance look as natural as possible.


Fast forward to 1986.

Besides performing, my mother taught tap at The Carol Walker Dance Studio. My father started as a beginner, and never advanced during Mom’s 25-year tenure, so she referred to him as her “best beginner.”

While Mom was sitting in the office of The Studio before one of her classes began, she received a phone call from the producer of an upcoming Famous Footwear commercial. He called the studio looking for tap dancers who would be willing to work a 12-hour day for next to nothing. Mom told him she would round up dancers, and that we’d be delighted to shoot the commercial.

“We” consisted of some of Mom’s students, Mom, Paul, and me.

Well, I wasn’t exactly “delighted,” but, I realized that if the three of us were in the commercial together, we’d have an opportunity to create a life-long memory.

On the “set” (because I’ve been in one commercial, I know the lingo,) Paul was given a top hat, cane, and tails, and told to “just improvise” some tap movements.

What none of us knew at the time was that the director was shooting, “Honey, I shrunk the Paul.” (See below)


Famous Foot wear Commercial; Paul

Mom and I brought our own black leotards, tights, tap shoes, and those black wrap-around tunics with little skirts that were popular at the time because they were adorable, and covered up any excess adipose tissue in one’s midsection.When the director said it was time to film the tappers, I realized I hadn’t yet cased the joint for an escape route. That’s when I heard ProRo in my head, much like Yoda, saying, “When a grape life hands you, roll with it you must.*”

Famous Footwear Famous Label Sale

Thankfully, the director told us the camera would only be shooting our feet…or so I thought.

After we shot the tap dancing scene, and I thought we were finished, I was handed my wardrobe change for the next part of the commercial.

What? Hey, Mr. Director-man, Sir, Mom only signed me up to tap dance; and, against my will at that! Now you want to put my entire body on camera in just a leotard and tights? No one wants to see that – – especially me – – and, by the by, everyone knows the camera adds at least 10 pounds!


Famous Footwear Exercisers

So, there I stood on the set in a very, very, very light gray leotard, an oh-so-flattering elastic band around my waist, a sweatband I had to wrangle around my very-1980’s asymmetrical fro, and a pair of gym shoes.

I was going to be filmed exercising with Paul, who was given an outfit worse than anything Richard Simmons ever wore, and another woman wearing exactly what I was wearing, only taller.

Did I mention that part of the wardrobe was a pair of purple tights? It was grape déjà vu all over again.

It turns out I had nothing to worry about. If you blink, you’ll miss me, so please blink. Also, because the real stars of the commercial were the Famous Footwear shoes, we were blurred out in the background.

As much as I love to dance, I’m very content being a humor writer, which, by the way, is an excellent career choice if you don’t like performing in front of an audience, or earning a living.

Enjoy watching my 30 seconds of fame, because, if I have my way, there will never be a second more.


*A fruit salad attempt of an homage to one of the AADC’s most powerful works, “Lemonade Suite.”


Fro-Back Friday! When Dad got Stuck in our Driveway

Norman with pennies on his head
My father could make almost anything stick to his forehead. It was one of his many talents.

The kids and I were in our usual positions; kneeling on the blue pleather-covered, retro sofa in the living room with our behinds facing the middle of the room and our noses pressed against the bay window, waiting for my parents to arrive.

Lucas and Veronica were always excited when they knew Grandma and Papa were coming over. My parents would often come to the house to visit before we’d all go out for dinner.

As soon as my father’s Lincoln Town Car pulled into the driveway, both kids bounced up and down on the sofa, causing me to bounce, albeit involuntarily. Physics. Can’t live with it; can’t live without it.1978_Lincoln_Town_Car





Screen Shot 2013-06-24 at 10.45.51 AM



Our driveway was wide enough for one car only, and as steep as a double-black diamond ski-run. At the bottom of the slope sat a one-car garage.

My Dad let my Mom out of the car and then decided to pull further up, which was, in reality, down  (oh, so down) the driveway. The only plausible reason for this was that my sister, brother-in-law, and their son, Joey, were coming over, too, and he wanted to leave room for them to pull up behind him.

It was so cold that year the Canadian geese, that usually hung out across the street at the golf course for the winter, completely bypassed Illinois and headed straight to Arkansas. Even though he’d placed the car in “Park,” Dad’s rear-wheel-drive car continued to slide down the icy driveway, inching itself closer and closer to the closed garage door.

Richard, my mom, the kids, and I watched through the front window of the house as my Dad’s car disappeared between the embankments on either side of the bottom of the driveway. We could see the back end of his car, but no Norman.

Richard ran outside and watched as Norman’s car stopped just short of the garage door. Richard came inside to tell us the good news. But the good news was short-lived.

Because of the embankments, my Dad couldn’t open his door more than an inch. If he had tried to slide over to the passenger’s side, he wouldn’t have had any better luck there. Even if he could physically climb over the back seat, those doors wouldn’t have been able to be opened either.

As soon as we realized what was happening, little four-year-old Veronica asked, “Will we ever see Papa again?”

2014-06-05 10.48.11

“Good question,” I thought to myself. How is he going to get out of the car? But before we could figure that out, he began trying to back up, only to spin his wheels which had the reverse effect, sliding him closer to the garage door.

I ran downstairs and opened the garage door to see if he would be able to slide in, get a smidge of traction, and then back out. But Richard’s car was parked in the garage, leaving Dad shipwrecked.

Time for some quick thinking. Richard and I sprang into action to rescue Papa from the Town Car. We placed floor mats behind Dad’s back wheels, as we tried not to slalom down the driveway ourselves. He put the car back into reverse but his wheels only spun and spun. They spun so much, in fact, that the smell of burning rubber triggered the smoke detector in the garage.

Ok. It was time for some more quick thinking. Richard and I tried to push the car back up the hill as Dad’s wheels spun in reverse. That may have been quick thinking, but it was also stupid thinking. There was no  way the two of us could have pushed that Titanic of a car back up and over the death-drop steepness of our driveway.

Finally, The Voice of Reason, also known as my Mother, said we should call a tow truck, which we did. However, it was going to be about two hours before the tow truck could get to our house due to the inordinate volume of calls the company had received about cars stuck on steep, double-black diamond ski-run-worthy driveways. Dad would just have to sit and wait in his car while we waited inside the house for the tow truck to arrive.


I called Dad on his cell phone to see if he was thirsty and wanted a Diet Coke, or need an old coffee can in which to pee. He she was fine and was even laughing about the situation.

Back in the house, we all just stood there waiting for the tow truck. If Dad was stuck in the driveway, we were going to be stuck watching him be stuck in the driveway because that’s what our family does. It made no sense, and makes even less sense when I think about it now, but we all stood there glued to the floor, as if we were trapped, too.

Finally, the tow truck arrived. A giant flatbed tow truck. In my driveway. had no idea what the guy was going to do or how he planned to get my Dad’s car out of the driveway, but he did. He somehow got these big metal things under the wheels of my Dad’s car and magically began to lift the car up — with my dad in it — using metal chains, and a hook that looked like it could support a prize-winning Marlin.


As we all stood there watching, Dad’s car was eventually dragged onto the flatbed. The tow truck driver returned to the cab of his truck and pushed a button that elevated the flatbed, the car, and my Dad as high as the 50-year-old Arborvitae trees that flanked either side of the embankments. As the driver pulled his truck out of the driveway, there was Norman sitting in his car waving at us as if he were in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes I never would have believed it, but it worked. The driver lowered the flatbed, and then unhitched the Titanic so my Dad could drive off of it. He moored the car on the street, and got out to tip the tow truck driver as we all watched and cheered. He was a little stiff from sitting in his car motionless for two hours and he had to pee, but other than that he was fine.

We snapped out of our stupors of disbelief and did what we had planned all along. We went out to dinner. Nothing, not even a perilous mountain of ice, could keep this family from going out for dinner, because that’s what Chases have always done and always will.


Dedicated in loving memory of Norman. M. Chase

June 17, 1931-June 6, 2014