I’ve been thinking back on my life with Dona and tabulating the lessons I learned from her – too many for one blog. So I give you three lessons I learned before we even dated. The first requisite was: We meet.
Don’t Be Too Quick to Judge
Dona and I almost missed each other.
And I almost blew her off.
Dona had just graduated college but had decided to return for one more year to get her masters. I was a college senior then. We had both been active in the Baptist Student Union but had never met.
It was a big group. Easy to miss someone. Don’t be harsh on me… yet.
To set up the story honestly, let me confess what a dweeb I was: insecure, skinny, critical, prideful. Okay, okay, not too much different than today.
At that time the Baptist Student Union had a Leadership Team. This was a small group of upperclassmen who, I guess, the staff thought had some leadership potential. Sound impressive? It was a big deal…
To us at least.
These were the guys and gals who had been active for a while, the people in the know and to know. I suspect the staff figured we were in need of extra guidance.
Anyway, the director comes into our second meeting followed by this new girl – this stranger – and says, “We had wanted to put Dona on the Leadership Team but didn’t think she was going to be around this year. Seeing as she is, we’ve ask her to join.”
“Well,” I told Wade, “Who is she? I certainly don’t know her. Never seen her. Have you?”
“No,” he answered.
“I tell you what,” I said, “they’ll put any yellow dog on the Leadership Team.”
You know, some words you end up eating are easy going down. The new girl became my wife and Wade my best man.
Quick to judgment is almost always incorrect.
A Scar Can Be a Mark of Remembrance
Dona and I got to know each other over the next few months.
I was never a player. Surprised?
By the time Christmas was rolling around, I was really getting interested.
She was on my short list. (See what a dork I was? I didn’t even have a list, short or long.)
Yellow dog? No way. I liked her. She was pretty and intelligent. She had a cute smile. She seemed a calm soul and I found that attractive.
That year at the Halloween party she had the creativity to come dressed as Jacqueline Kennedy. Quite chic. I went as Popeye. And yes, I had to pad my forearms. As a curious side note, Wade came as a preppy mummy – gauze bandages with an Izod alligator and golf hat. Martin and Diane came as a punk rock couple, Diane’s long, black hair pulled through a 45 record. (One of her dorm mates asked if she could borrow her outfit sometime. Diane lived in an odd dorm.) Mickey and Tom, though housemates, had separately decided on gorilla costumes. I don’t know which was which.
Anyway, the BSU had a big Christmas party that year. A group of us were put in charge decorating the tree. (That’s how important we were.)
Dona was there. She held a glass ornament she thought needed to hang just a bit higher up. Or maybe I thought it would look good higher.
Whichever, I was the one to help her. O yeah, big man on campus.
She gave me the ornament. To reach the spot, I stepped up on this kind of couch, which was really an iron bench with cushions. Even standing on the seat I couldn’t quite reach.
Like an idiot, I stood up on the bench’s arm rest.
As a scientific aside, when weight is concentrated on one side of an elongated object, that object’s center of gravity shifts. This makes the opposite end rise.
Sure enough: The bench tilted.
I went down – a wonder the tree stayed upright – and the ornament broke in my hand.
Another by-the-way, with a deep cut in your palm, you can see the fat that makes up the palm’s pad. Cool.
Jim was there. He looked at the wound and being the concerned person he was, he said we should go over to the university clinic to see if my hand needed stitching.
O, now that was reassuring. The university clinic was such that I might come back with an amputation if I was seen at all.
I wasn’t in any pain, or none that I remember. I was more embarrassed.
But Dona didn’t laugh at me. And that meant I was fine, happy in fact.
Nevertheless, at Jim’s insistence he and I walked over to the clinic. No stitches necessary.
To this day there is a small scar on my palm.
I like that scar. It always reminds me of Dona, like a brand in my flesh. More us than my wedding band.
So, a scar can be a mark of remembrance.
Just Because a Girl Friend-Zones One Guy, Doesn’t Mean She’ll Friend-Zone You
As winter turned to spring, I decided I would like to ask Dona out.
But she was “Dennis’s girl.”
At the BSU, if a couple went out twice, they were an item.
One day I was at Wendy’s with Jim confessing to him that I liked Dona when guess who walks in but Dennis followed by an entourage of his friends. He always had a collection of lower classmen about him.
He was in a foul mood. Sour face and muttering, he plopped himself down at our table and gave vent to his complaints.
“All she wants is to be friends,” he said.
“Dona just told me she only wants to be friends.”
The death knell to any male/female relationship. Especially when you’re in your 20’s.
Jim and I gave Dennis such condolences as he would have, though Jim kept eyeing me in that knowing way.
As Jim and I left Dennis to commiserate with his troop, Jim said, “Now Dennis isn’t standing in your way. Call her.”
“But didn’t you hear? She just wants to be friends.”
“Yeah,” Jim said, “with him.”
“O, I’m sure it’s a blanket assessment,” I said. “Why would she want me?”
“Still, Drew, you don’t know. Maybe just with him. Not necessarily with someone else. Not necessarily with you.”
And I found out later this was the case.
My kids are glad, otherwise they and I might not have know each other.
And so, one friend-zone doesn’t follow another.
In Part II, maybe I’ll get to the dating. Enough lessons for now. Dona would not want to overtax anyone’s learning.