A Moment in My Life – Wednesday, February 24, 2021
It’s been years since I listened to Linda Ronstadt’s “Ooh, Baby Baby.” Oh, how I wore out my record playing it over and over. I couldn’t listen enough. I still have the 45, but these days, it’s easy to add the song to my Amazon Music playlist and repeat it endlessly with one touch of the repeat button. I’ve missed the steady, soothing beat and Linda’s smooth, calming voice belting out the heart wrenching words. I listened and refamiliarized myself to the lyrics, and a wave of emotions and memories flooded into my mind.
It was 1981. The younger me felt my way into the adult world, going through the motions of what we were expected to do to make a mark in the world. I spent my afternoons at HBJ doing data entry after mornings as a full-time college student. I didn’t have much time for socializing, but I continued to hang out with a few high school friends. One, in particular, was Vincent. We were buddies. I met my late husband Mark through him when Vincent invited us to his BBQ at the house he was housesitting for his Aunt and Uncle.
Vincent never said in so many words, but I think he regretted having invited Mark and me to the same party. We never talked about it, but I don’t think he expected Mark and me to end up dating—or did he? I still haven’t figured people out, but I was getting my first taste of the games people play about this time.
One Friday evening after work, Vincent surprised me outside HBJ and drove me to a restaurant out at Fishermen’s Wharf. Soon, another surprise, Mark walked in and joined us. From the look on Mark’s face, he was just as dumbfounded to see me there as I was to see him. By then, Mark and I had been dating for about a month. Vincent invited us for dinner but didn’t say why. Mark looked as confused as I felt. We were both quiet while jovial Vincent was having the time of his life. Up to this point, except for the awkwardness that I felt, it wasn’t unusual for three friends to dine together. What happened afterward, however, changed us forever.
After dinner, we headed to our cars. We parked a few cars away from each other. Vincent opened the passenger door, and I began climbing in when he leaned over and kissed me on the cheek. I freaked out more concerned that Mark might have seen that and misunderstood than my wondering why Vincent did it. This was the first of a series of similar episodes that eventually got Mark and me talking, which revealed the game that Vincent was playing. That night after dinner, as we walked to our cars, Mark told Vincent that he wanted to drive me home. Vincent shot that down by saying that he picked me up, and my mother would wonder why someone else was dropping me off. I added that Vincent picked me up from my office. It wouldn’t have mattered since my mother had no idea who picked me up. Another time, Vincent said to Mark, “May the best man win.” It stumped Mark why he said that. The more notes we compared, the more we realized we were pawns in a game.
Games can be enjoyable, but when people are the tokens on the game board, that’s when it gets tricky. There’s too much at stake playing games with people. You might reach a point of no return. In this case, we saw Vincent’s true character, and our friendship ended. One day, if I ever see him again, I’d like to ask him, “Was it a game worth playing?”