Lennart's Loser Friend
I had gone out three times with this guy Lennart, when I got email from him, saying he didn't think I was the perfect woman for him. He was overly apologetic and concerned with my feelings so excessively, and made a point of mentioning that he had this friend. He was sure I'd like him because we both liked opera.
I was a little bemused by his worrying about my feelings. It was almost like he was afraid I'd start stalking him if he weren't very careful. I thought he was thinking a little too highly of himself - I hadn't exactly picked out a china pattern yet. I told him I was fine with not being the light of his light.
As for his friend, it sounded to me like Lennart was casting around for something to distract me, to deflect attention to the fact that he was not going to grace my future with his presence. "You both like opera?" That sounds like a pretty flimsy basis for a relationship! This friend was obviously someone that hadn't had a date in sixteen years, didn't bathe regularly, and probably tortured small animals. This friend was undoubtedly someone Lennart had taken pity on, and Lennart was killing two birds with one stone: get rid of the stalker and find a date for his loser friend.
Lennart wrote back that he was relieved, and mentioned that if I didn't want to go see him sing in a musical (called Myoptica), that, well, he'd understand -- but that his friend was also singing in the show, so if I came, I could meet his friend!
Again, I thought he was flattering himself. I wanted to go see the show because it sounded interesting. It sounded like I'd have to meet this friend of his, but I guessed I could put up with that.
I emailed back that I did in fact want to go, but that I needed a ride. My RSI was bad enough at the time that I couldn't drive to Berkeley and back in the same day. "Are any of your friends going up to see the show that day? Could I get a ride with them?"
Lennart wrote back very quickly and excitedly that, if I didn't mind going up early and staying late, I could ride up with him and friend - and then I could meet his friend!
Oh brother. "Alright, Lennart", I thought to myself. "I'll meet your loser friend!"
So on March 3, 1996, I knocked on Lennart's friend's door. This guy answered the door right away. My first thoughts - verbatim - were: "HEY! He's kinda cute! HE must be the housemate - I couldn't be so lucky."
But no, in fact, it was Lennart's friend, one Jim DeLaHunt. He invited me in and offered me a choice of beverages. I said, "You know, I'll just have some of that yummy Hetch Hetchy water." (The tap water in Palo Alto comes from the Hetch Hetchy reservoir, up in the Sierras, and tastes much better than the well water that San Jose gets.)
Jim nodded, and asked, "Would you like benzene-enhanced or benzene-free?" (This was a reference to the scandal Perrier faced when benzene was found in its mineral water.)
I considered, then gravely said, "I don't think I've been getting my RDA of benzene, so you'd better give me the benzene-enhanced." He nodded, equally gravely, and got me the water. "Hey! I thought to myself. He plays with me!"
They did the show, with Jim pretty obviously playing to me. It turned out that four friends of Jim and Lennart's had also come up to see the show, and the whole group of us stood around and talked for a few minutes after the show. At one point, Jim and I did a duet of "I Hold Your Hand In Mine" by Tom Lehrer, a very sick, very funny love song.
The electricity between us was so great that when the other group left, they only got as far as the front door before asking each other, "So who is this woman that Jim's been dating for the past six months???"
Jim and Lennart changed out of their costumes, then, since we were in Berkeley, decided to dine at one of Berkeley's fine eating establishments. As we were driving, I noted that I had about two dollars in cash, so would need to either find an ATM or get a loan. Lennart noted that there were lots of ATMs around. "See, there's one". We were stopped at a light, so I just hopped right out of the car and got some money. Now, people around me sometimes are startled by things I do, or embarrassed, or confused. But when I got back, Jim and Lennart were completely unfazed by the fact that I'd abandoned their vehicle with little warning in an unfamiliar town 50 miles from home. Cool.
We had a wonderful dinner, with Jim and I doing most of the talking. Lennart was being very quiet. For the ride home, he claimed to be exhausted, and sacked out in the back seat -- meaning that Jim and I had to talk to each other the whole way home. Darn. To this day, Lennart sticks by the story that he really was asleep and was not deliberately assisting our courtship.
Well, that was the start of a beautiful friendship. On December 9, 1996, I proposed to Jim at a San Jose Lasers basketball game. We gave Lennart flowers the next day. On August 22, 1998, we got married. We gave Lennart flowers again. :-)