Monday, September 17, 2007

Happy to be wrong

One of my all-time favorite running buddies is a guy I met 10 years ago, when he was in his mid-20s and new to Chicago. Warm, generous and very sweet, I liked him instantly. I mentored him at work and became his de facto big sister. He had quite the checkered history with girls. His gentle and genuine personality was at odds with his muscular, all-boy appearance, and I don't think many of those he dated realized how sensitive he could be. I remember many nights of drinking beer, looking at the stars, and listening to him ask how this or that "she" could have hurt him so.

So last year at about this time, when he announced he had met "The One" and he wanted to marry her, I was initially skeptical. He did, after all, have a tendency to fall a bit too hard, and it wouldn't have surprised me if she wasn't as serious as he was.

Then I met her. And hated her on the spot.

It was at a party. She obviously found all of our conversations boring and stared off into the middle distance, cig in one hand, cosmo in the other. I tried to draw her into the conversation by asking if she had a photo of her 5th grade son (previous marriage). My friend adored the kid and I wanted to see who I'd heard so much about. She seemed perplexed by my question and said "no." Now, really! What mom doesn't have at least one picture of her kid?

I chewed the inside of my mouth in frustration but murmured supportive things as a big, beautiful rock was purchased … as a proposal was meticulously planned and finally delivered in New York's Central Park … as a house was purchased in the far western suburbs … and as the three of them (my friend, his fiancee and her son) all moved in. I took cold comfort in the fact that at least a date hadn't been set yet.

This woman clearly was not as into my dear friend as he was in love with her, and wasn't it just making me nuts. All the concessions that needed to be made as they approached the altar were being made by him, and I didn't like that one bit.

The last week, just we three met for drinks. To be honest, if I'd known he had invited her, I would have tried to slip out of it. Now I'm so glad I didn't.


She wasn't bored by our conversation at the party, she simply didn't know how to jump in. She has no interest in sports, which we discuss a lot. Since English is her second language, a lot of slang goes right over her head. She not only likes my friend*, she loves her son. She just knew that neither I nor the other women at the party had kids and she didn't want to be one of "those moms" who bore people with photos and tales of their children. She's sounded genuinely, affectionately amazed by his growth spurt and how much food he can suddenly shove in during the space of a single day. It was nice to see this softer, warmer side of her.

I'm sooooooooo glad that she's not the too-cool ice queen I thought she was, after jumping to that first, unkind conclusion. (Shame on me.)

*Though I still don't know what they have in common beyond their affection for her boy. They really don't interact very much, and that concerns me. However, he is 35 now and I have to let him grow up sometime, huh?

Sad, sad, sad

This much is not in dispute: OJ Simpson and four other men went into a Las Vegas hotel room and walked out with memorabilia. Some of it was related to the Juice, some to Joe Montana and some to as yet unnamed baseball players.

Simpson maintains, though, that this was not a "robbery." He insists he wasn't aware that anyone in his party was armed. He only went to the room to get what had originally been stolen from him, most notably the suit he was wearing when pronounced "not guilty" of the murders of his children's mother (as those children slept upstairs) and a young waiter he'd never even met before. This incident in Las Vegas was a business deal gone wrong, according to Simpson. No big deal. It does strain credulity, though, that it took 5 men and 2 guns to simply, peacefully retrieve a suit.

This football hero's life has become trashy, tawdry and pathetic. Once a Heisman winner and a 3-time NFL player of the year, he now is just ridiculous.

I hope that this goes away before Simpson can selfishly exploit and exacerbate the racial divide in the country. I fear I'm wrong.