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!

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.


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

Oh, Great! Now Bath Fitter Thinks I’m Crazy, Too

The first time we called Bath Fitter to replace a shower stall was after “The Spew of 2002.” The sewer line in front of our house had become clogged with tree roots and waste from neighbors whose faces we’d never seen, but whose feces was now gushing like geysers from the shower stall, toilet, and sink in the bathroom/laundry room just off the family room.

Because he’s the only person in our family who has stricter disinfecting standards than most surgical suites, Richard donned one of his Hazmat suits, goggles, latex gloves, and a mask, and bleached the crap out of the bathroom. After that, he only entered that bathroom to do his laundry. He conducted all other “business” in one of the bathrooms upstairs.

He didn’t want to have to be the one to remove the still-soggy wood molding or stained wallpaper, and I couldn’t blame him. After all, he had just survived the river rapids of every neighbor’s waste who lived up-stream.

So, I volunteered to do it — but only if I could decorate it Leslie-style.

First we called the plumber to rod the pipes. Then we called Bath Fitter to replace the shower that needed a face-lift anyway. It was 30 years old, and not in a good way.

Bath Fitter did a fabulous job, so we were good to go.

Inspiration for the redecoration came to me in the form of a ukulele I had recently seen at Ron Jon Surf Shop in Fort Myers, Florida while visiting Kelly, Scott, and Dylan. I had wanted to take it home, along with every other way-cool surfer-dudette-type accouterment they sold, but I knew I’d never be able to fit it in my suitcase. And, even if I did, where would I put it once I got home?



I had Richard sign a waiver stating he had granted me permission to redecorate the bathroom, and then had it notarized. I typed into my computer and bought that ukulele with the adorable flowers on it, along with a matching throw rug, wooden wind chimes (for the backyard,) and various other beachy things.

I hit the paint store for palm-leaf-green, and middle-of-the-ocean blue, and Home Depot where I bought the one thing I’ve always thought our house had been lacking: Astro Turf.


Astro Turf







I borrowed one of Richard’s Hazmat suits, covered my face with a mask and goggles, and put on latex gloves. I used a crowbar to shimmy the wood molding off the walls. Then I pried off the wallpaper.

When  my mother got wind of what I was doing she said, “You do know you’re Jewish, right? You were not born with the skills it takes to do what you’re doing.”

“Maybe not, Mom,” I said “but it’s just a bathroom so if it stinks, who cares?”

I used huge sweeping strokes with giant sponges to apply the blue and green paint to achieve a jungle-like look on the walls. Then I attempted to cut the Astro Turf evenly, and glued it to the bottom of the walls to replace the wood molding. It looked fabulous.

The next day I found matching, delicate, hanging shells at World Market that I cut to use as vertical blinds above the loo. I fastened the chains of shells to the existing track for the old blinds using tiny paper clips that I hid beneath the valance I had covered with (what else?) Astro Turf.


Jungle bathroom







I have created lots of art, most of it crappy, except for my prized Menurkey for Thanksgivukkah last November. But this bathroom was a masterpiece.

Menurkey 2013

Bath Fitter and I had created the “hang-ten” bathroom of my dreams. Mahalo, my friends at Bath Fitter, Mahalo.

About a year ago, Richard thought he saw a wet spot in the family room ceiling. When his finger went through the ceiling, we were pretty sure he was right. Because no one could tell where the leak originated, our handyman Hunter created an opening the size of Rhode Island in the popcorn ceiling. Just as I was beginning to get used to the exposed pipes, Hunter, determined that the leak was coming from the shower door in our bathroom. He patched thceiling, and Bath Fitter installed another beautiful shower stall.

But over the past few months, Richard and I noticed that a pool of water would appear on the floor right by the shower door about ten minutes after either one of us had taken a shower. Preferring not to repeat having our family room ceiling cut into the shape of another state, I called Bath Fitter.

I told Richard that we shouldn’t use our shower the morning Ignacio from Bath Fitter was scheduled to come in case he needed a dry surface to apply some kind of epoxy.

Well, that was stupid because there was nothing to show Ignacio when he got here. I had just taken a shower in one of the other bathrooms right before he arrived and my hair was still dripping wet when I let him in.

I explained the problem and we tried and tried to recreate it, but no matter how hard we tried to make the shower leak by running the water up, down and sideways, it wouldn’t. It had happened every single day for the past few months. Where was it when I needed it?

Then I had an idea. I said, “Ignacio, you would be here anyway if there was something to fix, right?” He nodded. “Okay,” I said, “This is going to sound weird, but would you mind waiting in your truck for ten minutes while I take another shower, this time in this bathroom, and then I’ll get dressed and let you know when you can come back in.”

Ignacio looked perplexed. He told me he believed me and that this type of thing happened all the time. He said he’d come back when it did. He also told me no one else had ever asked him to wait in his truck so she could take a shower before. Shocking.

I convinced him it was the only way to prove there was a leak. He complied. I prayed he wouldn’t drive off.

I took another shower (I was incredibly squeaky clean that day!), and got dressed. I waited for the pool of water to begin to appear. Not a drop. I put schmutz in my hair and wasted a few more minutes, thinking the shower needed a moment to gather its extra water to drip onto the floor.


So, I went out to the truck and asked Ignacio to come back in, telling him that nothing had appeared but maybe by the time we got back up to the bathroom we’d be in luck.


The shower hasn’t leaked since. But it will. Oh, I know it will. And when it does, I will take a few pictures of it and call Ignacio to come back. Most likely he’ll ask a different installer to come to our house because I’m sure he’ll never want to go back to the house where the crazy lady asked him to wait in his truck so she could take a shower after having just taken a shower to prove her point. I don’t think I’d want to come back here, either.