After all of the anticipation of those weeks and months of e-mails, followed by endless phone conversations, finally resulting in that fun first date, how could it end with me telling him he was a jerk?
I already knew that this guy had an extremely dry sense of humor. I have always had a sarcastic sense of humor, so I totally got it. One of the things we liked about each other was that we made each other laugh. But I had such a hard time deciding when he was serious that I had asked him to use a code (the symbol ~) to indicate when he was being sarcastic in his e-mail.
I assumed those parting comments were his dry sense of humor, covering up the nervousness of saying good-bye. But I would have preferred honesty at that moment.
By the time I got home, I already had an e-mail with the subject line, “the jerk.”
I really didn’t expect that response.
I was always functioning in “survival mode” that time of year. I would eat on the run, sleep very little and work until late in the evening. I was stressed enough just trying to get through my life, at that point. But there was no way I was going to delay this visit. I was surprised and excited that he was actually coming to town.
I scrambled furiously to clean up my apartment. Springfield is a town with so much history, and it still has streets lined with historic homes. I lived in a four-flat apartment building that was probably built around 1940. My apartment had gold patterned wallpaper and thick shag carpeting. The kitchen had the original stove and refrigerator. I held my breath every time I used a match to light up that gas stove, hoping the whole apartment didn’t go up in flames.
I could look past all of that though because of the thick solid wood molding, the built in bookshelves and the sunroom on the front. Instead of a shower, I had a clawfoot tub, and the place used radiator heat. Above the front door was a plaque that said, “The Berkeley.”
To this day, we still talk about The Berkeley. That place had so much character. It instantly brings back great memories of our early days of dating.
I was working when he got into town.
Instead, I showed him to the gallery of the Illinois House of Representatives and helped him find a seat. He would have to hang out there until the session ended for the evening, and I could go home.
I told a few of my other female reporter friends that this guy had come to visit me and was sitting up in the gallery. I tried to point him out from where we sat in the press box on the House floor.