By Larry Teren
Sunday evenings in the late 1970s and early 1980s were often spent at these so-called well-chaperoned singles events that were at drinking establishments. Sundays were usually slow nights for bars so they willingly rented out their facilities to groups hoping to get the attendees to buy some liquor. Back then driving under the influence was not so vigorously monitored. I didn’t drink but plenty of others who attended these affairs did enjoy to wet their whistle.
The idea of lowering my self-esteem to go to such an event was to hopefully find someone of interest to date on Saturday night instead of the usual routine of watching The Love Boat and Fantasy Island. Perry, my very good buddy at the time, would occasionally go as well and we usually compared notes the next day. We generally did not have the same tastes in women so there was little chance of competing. The fact was that Perry did have an on-again, off-again girl friend whom he had been seeing for several years. When it was off-again, Perry was ready for the Sunday night extravaganza.
There was that one time that we both saw a raven haired, semi-beauty who turned our fancy. Perry struck up an acquaintance with her first and that was that. I did talk to her but knew it would be awkward if I asked her out as well. I backed down from such bravado but kept the lines of communication open. There was always the chance I’d catch her at another event a few weeks later.
As it turned out, Perry took her out on a date the next week and I asked him how it went. He said she was nice but didn’t want to give me too much information. He then said that he really wasn’t interested but thought I might be a good fit and encouraged me to call her. I thought about it but was a little reticent. After all, how does a guy call a girl and start the conversation off with the fact that she had gone out with his best friend who was now turning over the opportunity to someone else? But as they say- beggars can’t be choosie. I called and she agreed to go out.
I can’t remember anything about the date- that is, where we went, what we did. At the time, all I kept thinking about was whether she would invite me up to her apartment. Her place was a giant condo apartment building off the lake near Belmont and Sheridan Road in Chicago’s Lakeview Area. I knew the location well because I had gone to school around the corner on Melrose back in the mid-1960’s. The landscape changed from mostly two-flat brownstones and mansions to what they called four-plus-ones. These were ugly-looking multi-unit apartment building four stories high with parking underneath for a limited number of cars. What had been a somewhat manageable on-street parking situation in 1964 became impossible by 1968. The condo building itself replaced a nun’s mansion as I recall.
Driving her back home after our evening out I knew the chances of finding a parking spot on Belmont was less than 25%, especially at that time of the night. However, miracle of miracles occurred and a spot was sitting there on the street in front of her building. I parked and turned off the engine hoping that my charm would work itself into convincing her to not end the night so quickly. Sensing this, she looked at me and suggested I come upstairs to look at her stamp collection.
Well hello! That would have been my line. Yeah, sure- her stamp collection. I humbly agreed and followed her up the elevator to her apartment. Once inside, we sat down on her couch and she grabbed off her coffee table- you guessed it- her stamp collection. I wasn’t sure if I was being put on or put upon, but I decided to let the situation flow. She then excused herself saying that she had to get herself comfortable and went to the bathroom. I sat there waiting to see what surprise would be next.
After about a minute or so of waiting for her while she was in the bathroom, I heard a loud thump and what sounded like a crash. I ran to the bathroom to see what had happened and there she was sitting on the floor trying to put her artificial leg back in place.
I don’t remember what I said or did next but I do remember being yelled at and thrown out the door as it slammed. As I was heading back to my car, I was trying to think who was a good enough friend that I could give her number to next.