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Throughout history stories of romantic meetings are chronicled and passed down through the ages.

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So... How Did You Meet Anyway?

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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Entangled In Charlotte's Web

We met in the era of Elvis and Buddy Holly, before the Beatles, President John Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, the Viet Nam War, the Civil Rights Movement and the start of the Peace Corps. It was back when the girls’ basketball court was divided by the center line, and if you played guard, after getting the rebound, you could only dribble twice down the court towards the center line to pass to the forward on your team, who was on the other side. It was when there were all girls’ boarding schools, and one girl who was desperate not only to see a guy, but to meet a special one.

There are a few things that you have to know about my school.  We were allowed to go home only three weekends a year and Christmas vacation.  After classes and sports and before evening study hall, we were allowed to leave campus but only to go on walks that were mapped out to take us on prescribed walks.  We were not allowed to go into the town, where OH NO, we might meet a “townie”, and on Saturday night there was either a lecture or a concert.  Chapel was every morning and Sundays there was chapel and church.  We had to wear nylon stockings under our skirts for dinner, where we had to speak Latin or French.  I think you have the picture by now—the complete opposite of American Pie or Glee!
When my school roommate invited me to a co-ed party at her house during the Christmas vacation, I was thrilled.  She lived in a town fairly close to mine, and I had just gotten my driver’s license. It was there that I met a tall, skinny guy wearing ugly “birth control” (!) glasses, but a guy, nevertheless,  someone who was just exuding potential and was also at home from a boarding school.
His was co-ed, but the boys and girls were separated at different campuses so maybe he was just as eager as I was to chat with a girl.  It wasn’t long before he and I realized we shared something from our past: we had tormented the same itinerant art teacher when we were still going to school in our adjacent towns.  He was as bored as I was in my school and we realized we had shared the insidious reputation for devising evil ways to get the other kids to laugh at the vulnerable art teacher.

We discovered that both of us had taped things to the back hem of the teacher’s jacket, and when he leaned over to criticize a student’s drawing as he went up and down the rows, the object would be hanging down. It looked ridiculous and elicited roars of laughter from the other kids. My specialty was taping my hairnet from “Home Ec.” to his jacket – yes, back then girls had Home Economics and boys had shop classes.  Anyway, D. and I had a few laughs over that, although we now feel a bit guilty about our behavior. We found out we both played basketball,  but it was when we started talking about the classic children’s book, Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, that  I knew we might have a future.  I claimed that the sweet spider Charlotte was a symbol of Christ because she saved the adorable little pig, Wilbur, from the slaughterhouse by weaving the words “SOME PIG” into her web to get the farmer’s attention. Oh, no, D. countered, without missing a beat, Wilbur was the Christ figure because he was a farmyard animal willing to die so that people could eat.  YES!  Here was a guy who liked to talk about books!  “SOME GUY”, I thought.
I learned right then that D. would always see things from a different angle, and this is one of the traits that has both endeared him to me and also challenged me for the past 40 plus years. A career teacher, I never left the classroom, but my classes always include guys and girls.  D. became a trial court judge with new, trendy glasses.
Years later, I still thank Charlotte for entangling me in her web, and for teaching me her important lesson from the barnyard:  never give up on someone you love.