Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Half a Life Ago

Sometimes it's startling to think about things that happened "some years" ago and to realize just how many years it was.

Today I'm thinking about a college classmate named Ellen, who will turn 50 tomorrow, about 3 weeks ahead of me.

A few years after graduating, we were both in the work force. I had gotten married. She'd been engaged but then broke it off.

Ellen was quite observantly Jewish, and in our four years of college I'd been endeavoring to learn enough about Judaism to make a successful conversion. I abandoned that quest not long before graduation, but Ellen and I remained friends.

Ellen made me slightly uncomfortable, though I had trouble defining the reason at the time. She was simply brought up better. Her parents were sober, middle-class, elegant in a way that my parents were not. In short, I felt inferior. So between Ellen's rather persistent religiosity and the class difference, there was something of a widening gulf.

Doug and I liked to throw big parties and when we did, people would wander through the apartment and end up in the bedroom. We had a waterbed, which was something of a novelty. Despite the immediate impression this may have made, no overt sexual behavior took place at our parties. No one took off their clothes -- it was largely innocent. The worst that ever happened was someone would massage someone's back while everyone else sat around squealing at the "waves."

So in October of 1983, we threw a bash, since Doug and I had birthdays 6 days apart. We lived in Queens, NY; Ellen came across Long Island Sound from Connecticut, where she still lived with her parents. She brought a friend; I now forget who that was, or if I'd ever met her.

The first thing that went wrong was Ellen couldn't find anything to eat. She was quite observantly kosher and most likely there wasn't much of anything being served that would have been "safe." This was certainly a breach of etiquette on my part -- it wasn't like Ellen just dropped in. She'd been invited and I should have been more proactive about serving something appropriate.

Ellen left pretty early, after making a pointed remark about the "goings-on" in the bedroom, and how parties in her home (her parents' home, that is) didn't deteriorate to the level that mine apparently had.

Because she'd brought a gift, I sent her a thank-you note the next day, mentioning that all my friends meant a great deal to me. I hoped this would help her to understand that I didn't appreciate her judging my other friends as degenerates.

I never heard from Ellen again.

I sometimes wonder what she is up to these days. I'd like to apologize for the lack of edible food, and find out what she found so objectionable -- was it just men and women sitting close together, touching? That may have been enough. It would be interesting to see if she's as religious as she was back then.

Twenty-five years ago. Four presidential administrations ago...

Nostalgia is a strange thing.


Sleepy Scott said...

Hey Volly,

Just wanted to let you know that my Dimwit Chronicles blog is probably not going to be around much longer.

Somebody found it who shouldn't have. Now I have to do damage control.

Best Wishes,

Sleepy Scott

Volly said...


I LOVE your blog!

Please come back in disguise or something stealthy like that... preserving one's anonymity is half the fun of this thing.

Where there's a will, there's a way. Good luck -- we're all counting on you!