Sunday, April 6, 2008

Final's Week Flirtation

In an effort to further my education, obtain a college degree and thereby prepare myself for a successful career of some sort, I attended Brigham Young University full-time on an academic scholarship. I worked 20-30 hours a week at a furniture store to supplement the scholarship. However, I barely managed to buy food and books and still have some money leftover for computer fees.

In an attempt to meet and marry some good-looking, smart chick, DH was enrolled part-time in a few evening classes at the same university. (However, do not falsely assume that enrollment is equivalent to attendance.) When he and his buddies were not challenging the BYU varsity basketball team to pickup games at the Richards Building, DH also worked part-time. His waiting tables gig at a Provo Pizza Hut afforded him all the essentials: 1) A paycheck with which to purchase ski passes and gas for his '79 Honda Accord hatchback, 2) All the pizza he could eat, 3) Cute girls to not-so-slyly leave their phone number on table napkins, and 4) Coins (from cheap tips) for occasionally doing laundry. It was a college guy's dream job.

One evening during December final's, known as the infamous Final's Week, my roommate managed to pull me from my studying to traverse down the hallway of our apartment complex. Her boyfriend lived a few doors down and had proudly called to invite her over to see their apartment which was festively decorated for the upcoming Christmas holiday, although he most certainly was planning to not-so-coyly catch her under the mistletoe hung above the front door. Reluctantly, I put down my books to follow her.

Meanwhile, DH was helping my roommate's boyfriend hang the last cardboard Rudolph Reindeer, and he was realizing some unpleasant news. A quick trip during Final's Week to a friend's cabin for snowmobiling was turning out to be more of a couple's trip. Soon realizing that everyone of his buddies had invited a "date" for the adventure, DH was suddenly worried that the long awaited day was going to leave him an uncomfortable 5th wheel.

"What am I going to do?" DH quizzed his roommate. "I have no idea who to invite."

At that very moment my roommate and I knocked on the door. We walked in, pretending to admire the amateur decorating job in their tiny apartment. As I walked into the living room, acccented with sparkly tinsel hung with scotch tape, DH stood up. We knew each other casually since our roommates were dating, but rarely had spoken.

"Debbie!" he exclaimed, "How'd you like to go snowmobiling up to a cabin with me tomorrow?"

Despite the fact it was Final's Week, and I had a political science and a Hebrew exam for which I was completely unprepared, I readily agreed. Walking out of the apartment I was baffled by my uncharacteristic spontaneity.

Maybe it was the ambiance of a remote cabin in the Wasatch Mountains. It could easily have been the blazing fire and DH picking out Christmas carols that evening on a guitar. Whatever it was, by the time we got back to Provo the mistletoe hung in DH's apartment doorway certainly came in handy.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Boyfriends Can Be Handy to Have Around

I was only eleven years old and in the sixth grade when my two next younger sisters caught wind of my flirty ways at recess and excitedly announced the news to Mom that day after school.
“Debbie has a boyfriend!” they tattled, “She’s going with Steve!”

Mom was shocked at the news and questioned the nature of my relationship with the supposed suitor Steve.

I assured her it was no big deal, while my sisters stood behind me shaking their heads in disagreement. I explained that I did not ask him to go with me, but that one of my friends suggested it to one of his friends. Then they got him to agree to go with me and then confronted me with the proposal. Naturally, I agreed. It was cool to go with someone.

Mom was still more than cautious about the announcement.

“Does this mean you’re going to kiss him?” Jackie asked loudly.

Mom gasped.

“Gross!” I shouted in reply, trying to assure them all, especially Mom, that was not part of the plan.

After a few weeks of nothing between Steve and me, as in no phone calls, no notes, no hanging out together at recess, he broke up with me. While my friends were ready to launch a hate campaign against him, before assisting me in finding my next beau, I was not too upset. And so the going together with some random classmate continued off and on throughout my sixth grade year.

The summer before seventh grade, I was going with Doug. And the relationship was upped a notch. Mostly we played around at the community pool where he and his friends would throw my friends and me into the pool. He was a little taller and definitely stronger than the other boys in our grade, and I had noticed. When an injury kept me homebound for a time, he brought me a gold necklace with a heart pendant and we spent hours sitting on my front porch as my sisters and baby brother ran around us. Mom’s concern undoubtedly increased with this advancement in the "going together" definition.

As usual, summer loves rarely last past September, and Doug and I were no different. But he was quickly replaced when Jeff wrote a note to Becky ,to give to me, to ask me to go with him. And so once again, I was no longer single.

By this point my Mom and Dad were still trying to chart a course in the new territory of boyfriends they had been thrown into several years earlier than they had ever anticipated. Always leery and worrying about me, they asked incessant questions.

However, as far as I could tell, going together meant Jeff and I would say, “Hi” to each other when we passed in the hallways at school. He never called my home, but before his family left for Christmas Break and their ensuing trip to Colorado, we did exchange Christmas gifts. He gave me another necklace - my collection was growing - and I gave him a plastic skiing Smurf.

One spring day I was walking around town with my Dad when I saw Jeff approaching from the opposite direction on the sidewalk with his Dad. My heart started to pound. We always acknowledged each other in the school hallway, but in public in front of our fathers? I did not know what to do, so I let him take the lead. As we got closer he started to look at the store fronts so, I looked out at the street. And so we passed without even looking at each other, let alone speaking.

“Hey, wasn’t that that Jeff kid,” my dad wondered after they passed by.

“Shhhhh, Dad. He’ll hear you,” I cautioned.

After that Dad in jest told Mom I could go with any boy I wanted to because it clearly meant we spoke to each other less than we would a typical classmate. Jeff and I continued to go together for the entire school year and into the summer. However, unlike Doug the summer before, Jeff never visited my house and I rarely saw him at the pool.

That July, as a 4-H member I entered the Cherry Pie Baking Contest, one of the traditional festivities for the Fremont County Fair. On my appointed time I walked into the assigned fair building with tables lined in white paper, manure smells wafting the air. With my flour, shortening, rolling pin and other equipment lined up on the table, I prepared by masterpiece. I did well. While I did not win Grand Champion or 1st place, I did place a respectable second.

The next day, after the judging was complete, we went to the grandstands and stood in the dirt where sheep had been parading only hours earlier and holding our pies, we waited for them to be auctioned off. All proceeds were destined to our 4-H group.

Most pies were bid on by family members - in-laws fighting it out to be the top bidder. Many pies went for well over $100, especially if the participants had placed in the contest. As a transplant to Iowa, we did not have any family nearby, and I knew my parents would be unable to afford a competitive bid on my pie. And Dad reasoned if he wanted one of my pies he could ask me to bake one anytime - in a clean kitchen - with no sheep or pigs nearby.

Needless to say, I was more than concerned that my pie might not even sell at all. My fears were initially confirmed when I stepped forward, and the auctioneer announced the bidding. Since mine was a second place pie, he started at fifty dollars. With no takers, he dropped to forty-five, forty, thirty-five, and then thirty. Finally at $25 a local women’s group offered a bid on my pie. Going once, going twice, and then suddenly a man in the shadows of the back raised his hand and placed a bid for $115! Going once, twice and then thrice, my pie sold for a very respectable price.
Although I did not understand the lack of incremental bidding at the time, I didn’t care either. My father, however, was more then curious and after doing a bit of research found an answer to the mystery bidder.

“Linda,” he warned my mom, “This going together might be more of a concern than we originally thought. Jeff’s dad is the one the bought Debbie’s pie.”

Hmmmm…that was news. I guessed that next time I saw them in town I had at least better say, “Hello.”

Thursday, April 3, 2008

A Very Rich Man

When I was about 10 years old, it seemed everyone we knew was getting a dishwasher. Often it was avocado green and on wheels. The butcher-block top allowed it to double as a kitchen island. When it was full of dirty dishes, you could wheel it over to the sink, secure the hose to the faucet, dump in some soap, turn on the hot water, and wah-lah, 2 1/2 hours later your dishes were clean.

Such luxuries, however, were not for us. Regularly, my younger sisters and I were sent to the kitchen to wash dishes after dinner. With orange vinyl kitchen chairs pushed up to the sink, inevitably, we would get the counters, the floor and our clothes as wet as the dishes.

Occasionally, we hosted guests for Sunday dinner. After the meal, they would begin to rise and offer to help with the dishes.

"Sit down," my dad would insist, "The girls will clear the plates." And even though we really wanted help with our chore, obediently four little girls ages 5-10 would get up and begin clearing the table.

"Well I can help wash the dishes," the guest would often offer, "You don't have a dishwasher do you?"

"A dishwasher?" my dad would brag, "Are you kidding? We've got four!" And with that his four dishwashers would take the dirty plates, glasses, bowls, and silverware and disappear into the kitchen for a water fest.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Dad and His Five "Deere's"

Me (in front of S2 and D2 this morning): When I was little we woke up on Saturdays at 5 AM to watch Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons. We didn't really like that cartoon, but we knew Dad would have us up at 6 AM to do chores, so that was our only chance for Saturday morning cartoons. And when I say we got up to do chores, I'm not talkin' clean-the-house chores. Oh, we did those, and then we went out to work in the garden.

S2: But it's not like you lived on a big farm.

Me: No. We lived in town and gardened a small plot of land in our backyard and another at the neighbor's. I big farm would have been easier! There you have tractors to help you. My dad did not have any tractors or plows. He had five daughters instead.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Helicopter Regrets

S1 was telling a story (and let's hope that's all it was) about some people during a war trying to get two men to talk. Neither captive was offering up much information so they put them both in a helicopter and took off. Once high in the air they pushed one guy out.

"I bet the second guy was thinking I had better start talking," I interrupted, rudely finishing the story.

"And I bet the first guy was thinking I wish I were the second guy," S2 added.