Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Passion in the Pages

I went to the Deerfield Thrift Shop in search of a particular book. I was there two weeks prior and delved through a box that had yet to be unpacked. In it, I found "Theater World."

It was a book that anybody might have donated, but it was intensely personalized. Pages were dogeared. Newspaper clippings were folded between the pages causing the binding to bulge. Even though I love a Broadway show, but I do not live for the theater, so i let it go. But not before I took some pictures.

The book wasn't there today. I looked carefully. In its place, I found four other winners: "Gene Rhodes:Cowboy", a Children's Weekly Reader from 1954, "All About Dogs" written in 1962, and a BH&G "Sewing Book" from 1972 -- and then "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex*...but were afraid to ask", as explained by Dr. David Reuben, M.D. in 1969.

I thought about buying it for a gift. Really! I am serious. I have a dear friend who is a therapist and might love to add that to her bookshelf. Then I shrugged the idea off. But then I entertained it again. I am all too familiar with the "should I/shouldn't I" buy dance.

I opened the book again. All of a sudden, rather than being just any old copy of a classic, it had a story. First, tucked in between pages 208 and 209, I discovered a 1970 Bradley University Homecoming brochure addressed to 1969 alumnus Michael Glick of Chicago. Then, I found a torn corner of a 1970 New York Magazine. What sealed the deal, however, was the B'nai Brith bookmark holding place on a particular page which I shall call (ahem) "Page 69."

Some dots are easier to connect than others. Michael Glick and B'nai Brith didn't seem to fit snugly together. I had to come up with a story that would make sense, even if it was a little far-fetched. And so here's what I came up with:

Michael Glick married his high school sweetheart, Charlene Rosenfeld, shortly after graduation. They had attended separate universities, and though still committed, had been realistic, and agreed that they could casually explore other relationships. They vowed to let the other know if anything got too serious.

Michael and Charlene both fooled around sampling the collegiate buffet, but they always came back to one another. Every winter holiday they found themselves wrapped in each others' arms making future plans. Though Michael had a few fits of jealousy and Charlene occasionally turned green with envy, those emotions did not sour the big picture. Their love was strong.

They married in October 1969. It was a beautiful fall wedding. They did not take a honeymoon because Michael had enrolled in accounting school, and could not afford, in money nor time, to travel. They delayed the immediate celebration and said that their first anniversary would simply be a bigger one. Charlene was actually relieved to stay home in Chicago. Unbeknownst to the wedding guests, she was already two months pregnant and feeling rather sluggish.

On June 10, 1970, Baby Henry arrived. Charlene and Michael were unprepared for the upheaval that came with the glory of parenthood. Their former carefree lives were unrecognizable. Charlotte could barely find time to brush her teeth. She wasn't sleeping. She took on the bulk of babycare so that Michael would be rested for school. She was a supportive wife, and an extremely tired mother. She looked like hell. Her mother even told her so, gently warning her to clean up her act.

The Homecoming announcement arrived late August. Michael was excited to go and see the gang. Charlene would accompany him of course. He had asked his parents to come from Michigan, and stay with Henry for a few days.

Charlene had mixed emotions. On the one hand, she longed to go away with her husband so that they might be able to rekindle a little bit of the "them" that got lost under dirty diapers. On the other hand, she was nervous about how she looked -- thin, pale, unkempt. There was no way she could show up looking this way. There would surely be some of Michael's old girlfriends present, and she wanted...NO, she needed to pull herself together.

She was determined to become a member of the outside world again. So Charlene scrapped together some of her own money, hired a nanny two days a week, and started taking brisk walks along the lake. She was reading the newspaper again, so that she was up on current events and could form an opinion about them. She was a smart girl, afterall. She signed up to volunteer at B'nai Brith, and then went to Lord & Taylor and picked out some new clothes. She was down a size since Henry was born. For the first time in several months she gazed at her reflection and was not terribly disappointed. Then she cried.

Emotionally, Charlene was all over the map. Hormones, didn't matter. She was totally doubting her sexuality and whether or not Michael still found "the babymaker" attractive. She pulled herself together and knew what to do. She went to the bookstore, and without asking for help, finally found the book she wanted. She had read about it in Good Housekeeping. She plunked $6.95 down, and took home her very own copy of "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex..." -- the book that would guide her through her insecurities.

Charlene was determined to become a most adept and easy lover. She read the book voraciously, often re-reading certain pages. She hid it from Michael at first; she wanted to surprise him with her latest project. And that she did.

One evening, after Henry had fallen asleep, and after a day of pampering herself with a bubble bath and hour long nap, she slipped on a blazing pink Vanity Fair dressing gown, dabbed on some Tabu, and coated her lips in a Revlon shade to match. She greeted Michael at the door, told him to take a seat, and then shared her new wisdom with him. Later in bed that night, she told him about the book.

The Homecoming gathering, September 30 - October 3, made for a fantastic weekend. Charlene felt confident. She loved being paraded around. She knew that other women were looking her over. Michael was on the road to success, and she was his chosen roadie. He held onto her hand tightly. Apparently not tight enough. For in the course of an evening, Miss Penelope Ford managed to tuck her phone number into his palm.

In November, Michael Glick was in New York for a special accounting class. He called up Ms. Penelope Ford and took her to dinner. Before he left, he managed to swipe the copy of the book from the bedside table.

(to be continued...maybe)

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