Dave called me at work at 7:00 in the morning just before the end of my shift and told me to come to Schwelitz’s lab at the University of Dayton at 10 o’clock. He wanted me to go to a movie and get some lunch with him and a woman named Judy. I wanted to drive home and go to bed, but he was insistent. Judy arrived shortly after I did, and she and Dave began a lively conversation that barely included me. I struggled to stay awake and drank a second cup of coffee. I wondered why my attendance at their outing was necessary.
Dave had been trying to fix me up for the past few weeks after my most recent, disastrous relationship had crashed and burned. I wasn’t sure if this get together was another of his attempts at matchmaking. He usually didn’t give me any warning and would spring a complete stranger on me without allowing time for me to prepare. But this time I was somewhat forewarned. As he tried to persuade me to come along he mentioned that Judy and I had both read John Gardner’s novel, Grendel. He seemed overly excited by that coincidence.
I wasn’t all that attracted to Judy, but I should have been. She was tall and willowy, had long brown hair, golden skin and big hazel eyes. It was obvious that she was smart. But she talked about nothing but biology and didn’t seem to notice my presence in the room.
We sat at a table in a diner after the three of us went to a Woody Allen movie (Zelig), and Dave dominated the conversation as usual. Judy jumped in enthusiastically whenever he paused for breath. I sat there thinking about her laugh while they rattled on and on about research. Several times during the movie she had whooped very loudly and sounded like a crazed loon.
We finished our meal and left. Dave drove. Judy rode in front, and I sat in back. Their conversation gradually died down, and there were opportunities for me to speak. I leaned forward and asked her a few questions, listened to what she said and asked a few more. (What’s your research about? Where are you from?) She was pleasantly surprised that I took an interest in her. I looked in her direction when she got out in front of her address on Wyoming St., and was surprised to see her staring at me as she stood on the sidewalk. Her expression was a study in concentrated intensity. She seemed to be sending me a message, or willing me to do something. I was a little stunned as we pulled away from the curb, but said nothing to Dave. In the deeper recesses of my brain I may have understood that my fate had just been sealed.
I couldn’t forget that look and thought about her off and on for the next two weeks. I had no intention of asking her for a date, but couldn’t seem to put her out of my mind. Dave filled me in on a few more details: she wore gypsy skirts, made her own mint tea from leaves dried in her attic, told eccentric tales about her life growing up in eastern Pennsylvania, and meditated. He made her sound like a mystical, witchy chick. Dave liked girls who appeared exotic when compared to the conformist Midwestern women that surrounded us. He considered Judy to be one of his unique finds.
I decided one night to visit Dave on campus. He was working late on his research. I asked him a few more questions about Judy, and he told me that she was down the hall giving a test review to freshmen. We walked into the back of the lecture room and sat down. She was a good teacher who engaged her students in an open, vivacious way, and I enjoyed watching her in action. She smiled brightly when she saw the two of us, and I was surprised when I realized that she was focusing her charm on me.
The three of us met back at Schwelitz’s lab after the class ended, and Dave stepped out for a moment. I took advantage of the opening. I stammered when I proposed a Dave Brubeck concert, but her answer was swift, sure and adamant: “Yes!” She had been impatiently waiting for me to make a move. But she said nothing more, and an uncomfortable silence fell between us. We barely knew each other. Dave returned and released us from the awkward moment.
The three of us talked for a few minutes, and Judy and I decided to leave him to his work. As we walked down the hall I thought about our upcoming date and remembered that Brubeck wasn’t coming to town for another two weeks. I didn’t want to wait. I proposed that we go out to a movie later that week, and she said “Yes,” in a more gentle tone of voice. Our paths split at a stairwell, and she gave me a wistful parting smile. I still didn’t feel all that drawn to her, but as I left the building I noticed pleasant butterflies of anticipation fluttering in my stomach.
Our first date lasted ten hours. Time seemed to change its course of flow when we kissed. It was as if she had pulled me into another dimension.
On our second date she wore a gypsy skirt and made me mint tea. A few weeks later she enrolled me in meditation classes. Four months later we were engaged, and six months after that we got married. We’ve been married for thirty years and the connection between us seems to be getting stronger and stronger. I can’t imagine going through a day without hearing her voice.
At odd times I remember my initial indifference toward her and turn to her and ask, “What did you do to me? What kind of hold do you have on me?” She’s smiles mysteriously and doesn’t answer, and I think, “Damn, that’s attractive.”