After bowling that night in January of 1986 when I [didn’t] meet Jason, all of us bowlers went to a late night café for drinks and cinnamon buns. Jason and I sat together and visited about each of our jobs, getting acquainted. Jason was a commodities broker, which I had never heard of, at a brokerage firm, which I’d barely heard of. Because I was completely unfamiliar with that whole world of finance, he explained what he did by saying, “See that car out there?” pointing to a random parked car through the plate glass window of the café. “I can sell it to you and collect payment, as long as you sell it again to someone else before the date arrives to take possession.” Or something like that. I still don’t really understand how it works.
The next month, February, we were in a dinner group together. The dinner groups were a bunch of Chicago yuppies (who had organized the bowling night) that broke into smaller groups of eight or ten and met weekly for a month to have dinner and get to know each other. After a month, we mixed it all up and did it again. Jason’s and my group had had two dinners so far that month, so we’d seen each other a couple more times since bowling. We just visited like everyone else and planned to all be together again the next Tuesday evening.
That was all during the period in my life when I worked the night shift at Children’s Memorial. Two days after that second dinner group gathering, I was working on a Thursday night before my weekend off. During the shift, I got the idea that with the weekend looming and an entire weekend off for myself, I wanted to go see a movie. Then I thought, it would be more fun not to do it alone. Then I got the inspiration to ask Jason if he would like to come along. (Just coincidentally, that Thursday night shift was dawning onto Friday morning, February 14—Valentine’s Day, which had less to do with my plan than the fact that it was a Friday night and I had the weekend off. Really.)
I’d learned enough about him to know that he left his apartment on the far north side in Rogers Park to take the El to the Loop rooster-crowing early. So around 5:30 a.m. I plopped down at the desk phone in my hospital unit (fortunately I had a light patient load that night) and rang up his number from the dinner group roster. No answer. I’d called too late and missed him. So I’d have to catch him at work. Unfortunately, the roster didn’t have work phones listed. When I got home at about 8:00, I pulled out the big old phonebook. Flipping through, I located Merryll Lynch and found a whole column of numbers. I chose the one that looked closest to the department he’d described as his own and rang it up. A nice fellow answered and I asked if Jason worked there. He didn’t know him, so I described what he did to the best of my understanding. The nice fellow said he thought that sounded like one particular department, so he transferred me there—where I talked to several more very nice fellows. I told them what Jason looked like, and one guy thought he knew him. They all were really quite congenial and eager to help. After being on hold again, another friendly voice answered. He tilted away his receiver and shouted out to his co-workers, asking if anyone knew Jason and took suggestions of where to call next. We did it all again. But after several transfers and many more friendly fellows, I still hadn’t found Jason. It had gotten late enough that I could finally just call a friend in the dinner group and see if she had his number.
She did. He worked at Paine Webber.
I found him on the second ring. I said, “Hey, I’m going to go to a movie tonight and maybe get some dinner. Do you want to go with me?”
Oh my. I had been so absorbed in my search, I hadn’t thought further than that.
So he called out to his co-workers and asked for a suggestion for dinner. “The Green Door Tavern,” Courtney Smith, one of the other commodity guys said. Sounded great to both of us. "Any movie ideas?" Jason added. "That new Woody Allen one, Hannah and Her Sisters?" Fine. So we had a plan. It was a date.
Those commodity fellows are all really quite helpful!
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