When Lives Collide
Spud blushed every time he thought about the kiss Julie had given him earlier. He had intended to study for the balance of the afternoon, but he would read a paragraph and before he reached the end, he was daydreaming about Julie.
Evening came and Julie arrived, and they walked to the concert. It surprised him when Julie took his hand as they walked. She had a nice warm hand. The concert was enjoyable but Julie noticed that Spud was not overly enthusiastic about it. On the way back to his dorm she asked him if he had enjoyed the concert. He said it was good, and he enjoyed it a great deal.
“Spud, that is the first time you have lied and I don’t want you ever to do it again. I want you to feel that you can always tell me the truth no matter how awkward or unpleasant it may be even if it is something you think I don’t want to hear. I will always be honest with you and if we don’t agree we will talk about it. Relationships are a continual compromise.”
“Try again. Did you enjoy the concert?”
Spud was panicking. This was the first stress between them, and he wanted it to go away. He wanted to keep seeing Julie. And he really hated that she had caught him in a lie.
“No, I didn’t like it.”
“See, that didn’t hurt and now we know that we have different tastes in music and that is OK. Sometimes we do your music and sometimes mine.”
“I have dated no one except you since I broke up with my unfaithful boyfriend. It would surprise me if you were seeing anyone other than me, but I am asking you now if you are and you know that I don’t like lies.”
“Julie, other than the wonderful dates I have had with you, I have never had a date one on one with a woman in my life. When I went out with my friends, it was always in a group and usually, the ladies present were dating my friends. Because we moved a lot, I didn’t develop strong relationships with my friends because I knew that they would soon end. I was also very busy with a lot of things that interested me including school. I always liked school.”
“Spud do you realize that we are going steady.”
“I hadn’t really thought about it.”
“Is that OK with you,” she said.
“Yes, I would like to go steady with you.”
“People who are going steady usually are planning a future together. Is that what we are doing?” she asked.
“I hadn’t really thought about it.”
“Is that OK with you?" she said.
“Well, we have been seeing each other for over 2 months now, so I guess we should think about the future.”
“Some things can’t be solved by talking Spud so let’s compare notes on the big things, OK?”
“Are you a womanizer?”
Julie laughed and gave him a hug.
“I already knew the answer to that one.”
“Are you strongly religious?”
“Do you think you should spend all your money as soon as you get it or put some away for a rainy day?”
“Right now I don’t have any extra money but when I finish school and get a job, I will save money for the unexpected. That is the way my parents raised me.”
“Do you want to have children?”
“Those are the big show stoppers Spud, and we agree on them.”
“Aren’t you going to ask me how many children?”
“No Spud because that is something a couple can compromise on. There is no room for compromise on having or not having children if it is important to both people. The number can be discussed and agreed upon because as I said earlier, good relationships are a continual compromise. I have learned that from watching my parents.”
“I hadn’t thought about it, but I saw the same thing with my parents.”
“Now for the most important question… what type of music do you like?”
“Oh no, not classical.”
“How do you feel about compromises now,” Spud said laughing.
“Well, there is a bright side. My mom will like you.”
“Since your parents are away can we get together tomorrow?” Spud asked.
“I would like to but a day’s rest before the start of the work week would be good for my health and I bet you need to study tomorrow.”
Spud was disappointed but knew she was right since he had gotten little studying done today.
“I want you to meet my parents. I think they are free next weekend so if I can set up an evening would you come for dinner.”
“Spud you have to meet them eventually and I would rather it was now. I promise they will like you.”
“Besides, you already know my dad.”
“I don’t know any older men here.”
“Yes you do, but I will not spoil my fun by telling you who. You will just have to wait until you come for dinner. I still want to have lunches with you this week. What days are good for you?”
The week passed quickly and Spud arrived at the address that Julie had given him. He didn’t know that Julie had carefully primed her parents for the visit.
“If you are free, I would like to bring a young man, that I am dating, home for dinner on Saturday evening.”
“What!” Julie thought it sounded like an echo.
“When have you had time for dating? You are home resting every evening.”
Julie laughed and said, “Love always finds a way.”
“How long has this been going on and are you already in love with him?”
“It has been going on for over 2 months, and I am in love with him although I haven’t told him that yet. We are going steady, but he is very naïve about women since I am his first girlfriend and I intend to be his only girlfriend so you had better be nice to him because I am planning on him being your son-in-law. Also, dad knows him.”
The “What” echo occurred again.
“Who is he,” her dad asked.
“You will just have to wait until Saturday night. I know you will like him so don’t worry.”
As Spud walked up to the door, his hand shook as he rang the doorbell. Julie opened the door threw her arms around him, gave him a quick kiss and said,
“Stop looking like you’re at a funeral. They will love you because I already told them they had to. Come in and meet my dad and mom.”
She walked him into the living room and said,
“Mom, dad, this is my boyfriend Spud. Spud you remember my dad, the Dean.”
Julie’s dad gave a huge sigh of relief and shook Spud’s hand.
“Good to see you again Spud, but I really want to know how you have dated my daughter without us knowing about it?”
The evening went well, and the parents were eager to hear all the details about Spud’s life. Julie mentioned that Spud liked classical music and her mom immediately asked if he played an instrument. He told them, to Julie’s surprise, that he played the piano but hadn’t had an opportunity since he came home from Germany to go to school. She said they had a baby grand in her study, and it would thrill her if he would play something for them. He explained how rusty he would be, but he would try. Then he sat down and played Chopin’s Opus 53 Heroic Polonaise, and it stunned them. Mom asked how he could play like that after a year and a half off. He said he made twelve mistakes, and he apologized for them. They didn’t hear the errors and asked again how he became so good. He explained that his mother taught piano, and he had crawled up onto the seat when he was two and banged away. His dad’s military career had included three years in London and five years in Vienna, and he said it was the training he received there that had put the polish on his ability.
Julie’s mom said in awe, “You were a prodigy.”
She volunteered that he could come and practice on their piano anytime he wished. He thanked her and said he would like that but what he was thinking was that it would be an opportunity to see Julie.
Julie’s dad asked how a Canadian soldier was in London and Austria. Spud said he really didn’t know but would tell them what he knew. Although his dad had been a potato farmer that was not his academic background. He had a doctorate in biochemistry but when Spud’s grandfather died and left his dad the farm on PEI his dad had heard his roots calling and returned to the farm. The first year was a success but the second and third years he ran into disease problems that wiped out his crops. His family was young, and he was overqualified for all the jobs he applied for, but he still needed an income. The family went to a local air show and while Spud’s mom was taking a break in the shade with Spud his dad went for a walk.
He passed a military recruiter who said, “You’re not too old to join up.”
They talked and when the recruiter found out about his background, he asked him to wait a few moments. Next thing he knew he was talking to a general who said he would have to go through standard basic training but after that, he would go to work in a lab. He would get several immediate promotions with appropriate pay raises. Next thing Spud knew his dad was away for a time learning to be a life insurance salesman. When he turned thirteen, his dad had a long talk with him about what he really did. He was a soldier in the Canadian army working for his country but it was secret work and Spud must tell no one because it could put the whole family in danger. “As far as everyone we meet is concerned, I am an insurance salesman.”
“I have never known much more than what I told you and I would ask that you repeat none of it because dad is still working for the Government.”
“We have already forgotten what you said Spud and thank you for sharing that with us. He must be a very special Canadian and I know that his son is cut from the same cloth.”
There were more dinners over the next couple of months and Spud practised a little on the piano, but he had to work hard at school to keep his grades up and maintain his scholarship. It always thrilled Julie’s mom when he sat down to play.
One evening after Spud left, Marg said to Julie’s dad Jim, “I don’t think we have to protect Julie from Spud, but we may need to protect Spud from Julie.
She will definitely wear the pants in the family.”
“You are getting a skewed view of Spud because you always see him with Julie. It is a pity we didn’t have another daughter to help Julie see how girls should act around boys. That aside, I saw Spud, as you know, in my office under a very different circumstance and I assure you that young man can take care of himself verbally.”
“I hadn’t mentioned it to you because I didn’t want you to worry but when Julie was out on an errand at work, a cop showed up asking for her. He would not tell me what he wanted until I explained that I was her father. Then he told me about the crook who had tried to rob them when they were on a date. The cop was very informative telling me info from the reports they had both had to give at the time He knew that they were on their first date and a mugger stuck a gun in their faces. Spud disarmed him and held him and sent Julie to phone for the cops. When Spud gets past the puppy love stage he is in, he will stand toe to toe with our daughter. If I had dreamed about the man I wanted Julie to find he would not have been as good as the guy she has.”
As the school year was coming to a close, the discussion turned serious at another dinner with Julie’s parents. Dad introduced the topic that Julie would go to school to finish her fourth year and the school was not close enough for even a weekend commute. Spud would go into his third year at Waterloo. It had been in the back of Spud and Julie’s minds, but they had not discussed it. They had both expressed their love for each other at this point. They said they didn’t want to be parted, but they both recognized the importance of their education.
Julie’s dad was empathetic. He said they were looking at three months from mid-September to mid-December. Then Julie would be home for the holidays. Then it would be another three months until she graduated and could look for a job. He said he assumed that she would look for a job in Waterloo where Spud would still be in school. If your love can’t survive those two separations, then maybe it isn’t quite what you think it is. Julie and Spud weren’t happy, but they both agreed that Julie should finish her last year.
Her dad said since they were taking the mature route he had a surprise offer to make to Spud which he had already discussed with his wife.
“Our five sons, who are all older than Julie, have left a lot of vacant bedrooms upstairs. At the end of the school year, you will have to pay to stay in the dorm for the summer. We would like to offer you a room starting then and going into the school year for the sum of one hour a day. I think seven hours a week to pay for a room is probably much cheaper than what you are paying now. Are you interested?”
“What would I have to do for that hour each day?”
“You would have to sit down and play our piano. Marg loves to hear you play and I know it would make her happy to have a daily live concert. What do you say? Incidentally, you would have access to our phone, and we have free long distance anywhere in Canada. Perhaps you might want to make phone calls while you stayed here.”
He winked at Julie who jumped up and gave her dad a huge hug.
“Spud says yes,” Julie said.
“Honey, I know that you grew up with five brothers and had to shout to be heard but please give Spud a chance to speak for himself.”
Julie plopped herself in Spud’s lap and said,
“Do you want to live to see the sun rise?” and then she gave him a big kiss, the first time in front of her parents.
“Apparently I am saying yes and thank you for your very kind offer.”
“I am sure that Marg would suspend the hour when need be such as exam time.”
The future looked great for Spud and Julie.
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