My boyfriend dumped me in the summer of 1977. My grandmother and my favorite uncle died that summer.
Like this summer, it was a long, hot, sultry summer and I didn't have a job. Then everything changed on August 16, 1977.
I drove to a college journalism workshop at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. Athens is a fairly decent drive from central Indiana.
I didn't know too many people on the yearbook staff. The advisor arranged a ride for me to Ohio U.
Early on the morning of August 16 (after an unending evening with friends at the local pub) I went to the arranged meeting place. I did not look good. I'm sure I didn't take a shower, and I'm fairly certain I never went to bed that night.
I wore a red bandana on my head -- do-rag style.
The person I was meeting stood aimlessly by his car -- a 1960s black Caddy. He was dressed in all white, white painter's pants, a dirty white dress shirt, and a white Gilligan-style cap. It was not love at first site, though I did notice he had very long eyelashes and Windex-blue eyes.
He mumbled something to me about the heat in the car and the broken windows. I could not really understand what he said. There was another girl with him, whom I did not know.
I crawled in the backseat and fell asleep. What he had been trying to tell me was that the electronic windows were stuck in the up position, and the heat was broken and permanently on. That enhanced the much-needed sleep.
The White Knight woke me up and asked if I knew how to get to Athens, Ohio. This time I mumbled some directions back at him and asked him to leave me the eff alone.
I woke up an hour later in Indianapolis.
"Hey, guy," I yelled at the mumbler in the front seat, "We're supposed to be going east, not south."
The heat was too much for me and I fell back asleep.
Five or six hours later I woke up and the black Caddy was sitting on the banks of the Hocking River. Like Dorothy in the poppy fields, I could see the Oz of Ohio University beyond the banks.
But The White Knight had no idea how to get there. I noticed he had actually left the highway and taken a bumpy, dirt path to arrive at our wrong destination.
We got back in the car and somehow wound our way through the hilly city of Athens and made it to the Martzoff House where several people I knew were waiting for us.
One of them leaned out the dormitory window and said, "Hey, we've been here for hours. What took you so long?"
Continuing my charm offensive, I said, "I rode with this S-O-B and I am freakin' telling you that I never want to see him again."
That was thirty-three years ago today. That friend who leaned out the window relished telling that story at our wedding rehearsal dinner.
My White Knight, who no longer dresses in white, still has those magnificent eyelashes and Windex blue eyes. Right now he's probably lost somewhere in West Virginia, driving our son back to college. Our son doesn't attend Ohio University, so I hope he is nowhere near the Hocking River.
Later that evening, we learned the King was dead.