POSTCARD FROM NEW ROCHELLE
Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places
Alright, so I lied. I admit it. But, believe me, you would have done the same in my position. You don't think so? As "The Golden Girls'" Sophia used to say, picture this: suburban New York, July 1998. A lonely girl sits in her house perusing the Princeton alumni directory for her boss. She makes a list, noting the names of the men. The class of 1983 seems to her a microcosm of successful Americans--Vice President of this company, CEO of that firm. That's now. Flashback 15 years though, and they were probably as unexciting as her male classmates at Harvard. Sigh, the boys. Suddenly, she sits up at the rumble of a truck, realizing that she must show the garage repair person the ailing pulley.
This is where the story begins, because that girl, otherwise known as your author, was expecting a man. That is to say, I had expected a fatherly looking repairman, perhaps one with salt and pepper hair.
Instead, the repairman was young, tall and trim. He had a tan, freckled face and dark hair, and brunettes are a personal favorite. But enough about my taste.
After I had played Vanna in our garage, our young Pat Sajak wanted to replace bolts. My mother did not want new bolts, so I had to stall until my mother arrived to argue against the unwelcome bolts.
No complaints from this corner. Why, I still had work to do. I noticed that his T-shirt and jeans were streaked with oil and grease, but he did not mind.
Mr. Fix-It seemed to revel in his dirt as he perched on the wide ledge on the truck's rear. I seemed to be facing a real-live manly man, who was a real cutie in the bargain.
Morphing into Barbara Walters mode, I interviewed the man of the hour. I asked him if fixing garages were his summer or permanent employment; it turned out to be permanent and he, the company owner's son. I asked if he had a lot of business, did peoples' garage doors really break so frequently? Yes, it turns out that klutzes and shlamazels comprise a large portion of the local population.
He beat me to the punch with the age question. I swear he almost fell off the ledge of his truck when hearing "almost 20." It would be interesting to find out his low ball estimate. He was 21. How perfect, someone my own age. Why, we should have lots in common.
We compared high schools. My mouth closed on itself as I realized that I needn't ask the college question. Fix-It-Boy popped the question instead. Did I go to college, why of course. Where? Well...I searched for an answer. Harvard meant the end of the conversation, and our girl on the scene knew that.
"I go around here," she floundered, making circles with her arms, "to Purchase College." She had no idea whence that response hailed.
Purchase is the local state school, and it is shall we say, not so intellectually strenuous. Beyond that, our heroine was largely clueless, flying blind. She assumed she was safe though, that all should now return to equilibrium. Wrong!
Beefcake asked about my major. How could I say Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations? Not only was the name a mouthful he'd never get his mouth around, but I'd also out myself as a brain. That would mean the end of the conversation.
"English," I volunteered, proud of my save. "Why?" he pursued. "Uh, because I like to read." Oh, I realized, that was not the right answer. What was anyway? Handy Man was becoming anxious, wondering where my mother was so he could finish and go home. I needed to keep the conversation going and distract him so he didn't just up and leave. It really was a challenge though because Sexy is as intelligent as the garage door he is waiting to fix.
He began to ask about my local haunts. Good! At least one of us was going to keep the ball rolling. We discussed the local high school bar and agreed that was company neither of us aspired to keep. This up-county boy was impressive.
Why, he seems to know every bar in New Rochelle, none of which I have ever frequented.
Greasy was undeterred. (I do so like perseverance.) He started on the clubs. Inspired, I launched into a story about a recent trip to a club in downtown New Rochelle. I was so thrilled to have something to say, that I almost told the part of the story about why I hated the club--all the guys were grease monkeys. I didn't know about their occupational titles, but each head of hair stored enough gel to fill a swimming pool.
A white flag fluttered in my mind. Just in time, too. I ran up the driveway to greet my mother. This situation was a disaster. There was to be no future for Manly Man and me. Ah, well. Maybe Harvard men aren't so dull after all.
Melissa Rose Langsam '00 lives in Kirkland House. Now that she is done with this piece, she will return to pontificating about human nature, watching Ally McBeal and other meaningful summer activities.