November 29, 1969… 9:00 PM
In a last flurry of picture-taking toward the end of our wedding, we wanted to be sure to gather some of those who had come from far and wide to attend. One group was from my 1967 graduating class at Wheaton College.
Among these was the couple who had introduced Nate and I, back in the fall of 1966.
Kathy was one of my best college pals, and we were especially close during senior year. Being from Nebraska, she didn’t get home much, but Mom made her feel welcome at our house. We went to Wilmette together on many weekends and often acted goofy together, too.
For example, we sang mock-operatic duets in front of anyone who would listen and experienced our 15 minutes of fame at Wheaton singing in a talent show — making fools of ourselves but having a great time doing it.
Kathy was engaged to a guy named Bob who attended Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Without a car between them, they virtually never saw each other, since the two colleges were 30 miles apart. But I often had access to Mom’s station wagon, and when I did, Kathy begged for a ride to see her fiancé.
One day Kathy said, “Bob and I should get you dating a Northwestern man so you’ll want to drive there all the time. Then I’ll ride along! Bob knows a really handsome Swedish guy you would love. Smart, too.”
I didn’t think much of it, but then it happened.
Kathy and I drove the station wagon to Wilmette for the weekend, and I dropped her off on the Northwestern campus to see Bob. Proceeding home, I dumped the contents of my laundry bag into Mom’s wash machine, showered and washed my hair, pulled on an old flannel nightgown, and climbed into bed with a book.
About 10:00 PM the phone rang. “Come down here right away!” Kathy said. “We’re at The Huddle ice cream parlor, and we have the Swedish guy with us. He wants to meet you!”
I was casually dating several other boys at the time and knew blind dates didn’t usually go well. “I’m already in bed!” I said, trying to beg off. “My hair is wet, and I have nothing to wear.”
“We told him you were coming,” she said, putting me in a fix. “We won’t order till you get here.”
Though I was mad at Kathy, I was also curious. Handsome? Smart? Swedish? I had to see. But what to wear?
I had a new coat in federal blue that buttoned to the chin with a Peter Pan collar – I called it my “Jackie Kennedy coat.” (…pictured here after 3 years of hard wear.) Paired with my knee-high boots, I would look “dressed,” as long as I didn’t take my coat off. (The only thing beneath it was white underwear.)
As I walked into the ice cream parlor, they spotted me right away. My blind date jumped to his feet, and I remember thinking how glorious his blond hair was. After quick introductions, Nate pulled out a chair for me and said, “May I take your coat?”
It was a balmy October evening. “No thanks,” I said. “I’m a little chilly.”
As we ate our chocolate sundaes, Nate asked twice more if he could take my coat. It was awkward to refuse, but I couldn’t do otherwise.
After a couple of interesting conversational hours, Kathy and I dropped the boys at their college housing and drove on to Wilmette. “Why were you so rude to him?” she said. “He was trying to be polite, and you wouldn’t even let him take your coat!”
I explained about the wash machine and then unbuttoned myself. “Here’s why,” I said.
She saw my underwear and howled with laughter. Two weeks went by before Nate called for a second date, but after that, the 4 of us got together frequently, and Kathy got all the rides she wanted to Northwestern and to Bob.
“The pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.” (Proverbs 27:9)