FC, As many of you know, I have a passion for the “market”. Especially “valuation” stuff. With lots of fancy math back-up data. And as a few of you also know, the market was the “lesser” though “most talked about” of my two passions. This is the only place in the cyber-world I feel comfortable talking about both passions, because this is the only place in the cyber-world that I have actually met people who really seem to understand both. And so I'd like to share with you a few memories about the day my first passion became my first passion… September 23rd, 1968. Who could possibly forget this important date in history? • Mayberry R.F.D. debuted. It was in reality just the next generation Andy Griffith Show. In episode 1, Andy & Helen get married & Aunt Bee becomes Sam's housekeeper. • A rather famous priest, Padre Pio died. He was reported to have painful, bloody wounds on his body for 50 years, similar to those of Christ. The wounds mysteriously disappeared shortly after his death. • The USSR launched Kosmos-243, a satellite which studied methods of remotely probing the Earth. • A kind of nerdy second year engineering student named Ralph met his future bride.... It's Monday afternoon, and there is a definite autumn chill settling in on Detroit. It feels good to be inside the building. The basement of the student union was crowded as usual, with virtually no seats available. The tables were piled high with books, coffee cups, stale bagel-bits, and playing cards. Man, I wasted a lot of time in that smoke filled room between classes, playing Pinochle and Pooch with a group of friends I'd met during my first year. The card games never really ended; someone just took your place when you left for class. This room, called the “Red Door”, was where I was, unless of course I was somewhere else. The Red Door also provided a good view of the game room, through a glass wall, where you could watch Spencer Haywood play pool. Constantly. Made me wonder when he had time to go to class or practice basketball. But my opinion was really of no import. His scoring record stood on its own merit. Rick: “Hey Ralph! I got a date for next Saturday. You wanna double?” Now Rick was one of the best looking Italian Stallions you'd ever want to see. Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome himself. Except he was short. And, frankly, not nearly as dark as Spencer. Anyway, Rick and I had hit it off as friends in freshman year, and had double dated frequently in the past year. He almost always went with someone new, while I had been dating Kathy for over 2 years… right up until the week before school started up again. Ralph: “Sorry Rick, but you know Kathy and I broke up. I don't really know anyone I'd want to ask out.” Kathy and I were both still hurting, though in different ways. I had no desire to meet someone new, as I was beginning to realize that my time was already well spoken for over the next few years. After these next two semesters in class, the co-op work program would start, with alternating semesters of school and work, until the whole 5 year program was completed. The carefree days of summer vacation were now gone forever… at least until retirement, which of course was forever away. And since I had worked two jobs this past summer to afford a car, I wasn't all that heartbroken about said “carefree” days being gone. Rick: “Aw, c'mon Ralph, just go up to the nearest cutie you see, and ask her out. Besides, I'm COUNTING on you! My car died, and I was hoping we could go in yours.” “Geez,” I thought. (You might eventually notice that I think “Geez” quite frequently.) My thought continued: “Can't let my bud down. But if I sit here and think too long about asking a strange cutie out, I'll probably break into a visible cold sweat, just before going comatose.” It had always taken quite a while for me to get comfortable enough with girls I knew before I would ask them out. I didn't really have all that much experience, having only gone out with maybe 6 or 7 girls in my whole dating experience. And most of those were pre-Kathy. Well, obviously, this was no time to think. Must ACT! Must act NOW! The practical “engineering” side of the brain was kicking in. (Act without thinking? That really doesn't sound very engineering-like! But then, when girls were involved, male engineering minds always get all messed up.) Looking down the long narrow table, there was “that” new freshman girl seated behind a big pile of books, talking with Judy, a girl from our “group”. She was kind of a cutie, and I had noticed her hanging around with our little crowd since school started a few weeks ago. It just seemed like our two schedules never had us together in the Red Door for more than the few minutes between classes. And I had to leave for one of those classes, like right now! I got up, walked down to the far end of the table, leaned over between her and the person seated on her right, and tapped her on the shoulder. She turned away from Judy to face me, with a puzzled look on her face. Ralph: “Hi! …(Pause)…(Swallow)…Do you ever do anything strictly on impulse?” Oh, GEEZ!!! Did that sound as stupid to her as it just did to me? A moment passed, and then our eyes locked on each other for what seemed like an eternity, each of us probing the other's eyes. Well, for 2 seconds at least. Maybe 1-1/2. Then… Unknown Cutie: “Sure, sometimes.” Holy Moly! (Which is entirely different from Geez!) She's smiling at me. I've never seen a smile like that. A smile says a lot about someone. She is confident and secure about herself. Not ditzy, not clingy. Able to be independent. I like that. She doesn't seem like the type to try and be anything but what she is. Maybe I will be acceptable to her just being me. My knees stop knocking, and I smile back. Ralph: “Will you go out with me next Saturday night?” She had to have known a question like that was coming, right? The phrasing scored no points for originality, but time was a-wasting. And she surely wouldn't have smiled like that if she planned to just shut me down, right? Unknown Cutie: “OK.” I'm momentarily stunned and numb. My eyes glaze over and lose focus. As I stare blankly into the glass wall behind her, I would swear Spencer just sunk the 8-ball and scratched the cue ball on his last shot. Then I remember what time it is…the engineering side of the brain struggles to regain control… Ralph: “Great! I have no idea where we're going. I'll let you know later, but I have to get to class for a physics quiz right now.”... I later found out Judy told her my name and a little about me. Let her know I was “safe”, you know? Most nerds are. At least they were in 1968. We went to see The Odd Couple. The original one with Walter Matthau and Jack Lemon. It was genuinely funny and entertaining. The rest is history, as they say. Rick ended up being my best man, and Kathy and Judy were bridesmaids for Sue, a.k.a. “Unknown Cutie”. Kathy was already married herself by then, and Rick eventually married Colleen, the beautiful Irish lass from that same movie-date. They are still together. For the picture lovers: http://home.comcast.net/~grandparalph/wed1.JPG (Top Photo: My dad, me, Rick; Like all good nerds on their wedding day, I had a terrible zit pop up near the top of my nose, right between my eyes. Bottom Photo “Us”, leaving the church for the reception in her parents' '67 Mercury convertible, on a night when it was supposed to go to minus 14F) And http://home.comcast.net/~grandparalph/wed2.JPG (Top Photo, back: Sue's H.S. friend Cathi, my ex-girl friend Kathy, Sue's cousin ?, and Judy. Bottom Photo: Hey, she isn't legal to drink that stuff! But do you see what I meant about the eyes and the smile?)The events of September 23rd, 1968 did indeed change the lives of a few of us forever. 36 years. Where'd they go? God, I miss her. Ralph
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