A good share of my running during the summer of 1983 was done on the lakefront path. I’d run all the way down to the museum campuses from Lincoln Park and back up to North Avenue Beach. One warm morning I was zipping along the lakefront trail nearing the end of a run when a vision in white and turquoise appeared up ahead. She was young and about as fit as you can get.
I slowed my pace to avoid passing her, then slowed to a complete walk. I just wanted to watch her for a bit. But then I decided, why not talk to her? She’s just another person like me, right?
So I matched her pace and placed myself beside her and said, “Can I ask? Are you a dancer?”
She looked the part. Her thighs were strong and she had keenly accentuated calves. I’ll freely admit that it was her butt in a set of white shorts that first caught my eye. She turned to me and replied, “You might say that.”
Whoa. A bit of mystery to boot.
“I like dancing,” I told her. “And I’ve written about it some.”
“You’re a writer?” she inquired. “You might say that,” I laughed.
She smiled and kept walking. “I’d like to take you dancing if you’re up for it,” I suggested.
“What’s your name?” she responded.
“I’m Chris, and you?”
“Magda,” she said. And then, “Sure, I’ll go out with you…”
And that was that. I hadn’t stopped long enough to talk myself out of asking her on a date. What a miracle!
She gave me her number and I repeated it a few times so that I wouldn’t forget it. Then I fist-bumped her and took off running again, making sure that my form was good so that she’d be left with a good impression.
As to that, it’s important to describe my looks at that stage of life. I was 6′ 1.5″ tall and weighed barely 140 pounds. In other words, darn skinny. My face was lean and my hair outside my receding hairline turned a sandy brown after a summer in the sun. I still had a gray front tooth from the baseball accident when I was thirteen, but it hadn’t stopped me from meeting and falling in love with a girl in college, or for that matter, Linda, the woman I was officially dating that summer.
But a young man living in the city without a ring on his finger has a right to some leeway. At least that’s how I looked at it. I’d been harangued into a semi-engagement with the girlfriend from college only to see the relationship veer off into a ditch when she chose to split from me and marry someone else half on the sly. Then I’d dated a much older woman who gave no real indication what sort of relationship she wanted long-term, so I didn’t pursue it. Now I was trying to figure out if the woman I was dating felt like the person I wanted to marry. All while trying to find a new job and running as if my life depended on it.
Tight white shorts
So I was a loose cannon of sorts, and horny as hell most days. So the sight of a woman in tight white shorts and a closely-cropped turquoise top walking up the beachfront path on a summer day was a fantasy I wasn’t about to pass up.
I got a bit excited about the date later that morning and decided that I needed a new set of white pants to go out dancing. I took a $50 Traveler’s Cheque and visited a clothing store to buy a set of bright white dancing pants in my size, 30″ X 34″.
Late that afternoon, I pulled them out of the bag to try them on. To my horror, I realized they were not hemmed. There were at least two additional inches of material down at the cuffs. Actually, there were no cuffs at all.
I looked at the clock and realized it was already well past six o’clock. There was no time to rush to the store and return or exchange the pants. So I rustled around the house and found a box of safety pins that I’d collected from road race numbers. “You can never have enough pins,” I muttered, picking out the cleanest ones.
Carefully I folded the bottom of the pants up inside the cuff and pinned them into place. It took about twenty pins to get the job done. Then I ironed the hems to create a crease at the bottom. Then I stood in front of the mirror to see how they looked. “Meh: passable,” I said to myself. I put on a set of loafers and a tight-fitting patterned shirt and sonofabitch, if I didn’t look half bad!
The process of fixing those pants had taken a couple hours. It was getting late. I took another look in the mirror and smiled my best confident smile. In truth, I probably needed a decent haircut and my razor wasn’t that sharp, so my beard was sort of rough. But what the hell? I was going for it.
To be honest, I took a look in the mirror at my ass in those pants. “Okay…” I chuckled out loud. Then I trotted over to get my car parked on Stockton Avenue in Lincoln Park. It was nearing 9:00 pm when I drove up to her place a few blocks north. She climbed into the car looking radiant with her hair all shiny and her makeup perfectly done. She was stunning. I thought, “What the hell? What have I done?”
She was out of my league, for sure.
OOML (Out of My League)
I’d had at least one other date with a woman that was clearly out of my league. We’d connected while a group of us high school kids were driving back from the state track meet and started flashing each other. I’d seen her tits that day, and a fair bit more, and called her for a date, and she accepted. We wound up parking on a country road and we had some fun. But I know she expected a bit more from the encounter. What can I say? She was a bit more beautiful than I could handle, and out of my league.
My summer fantasy woman was something else again. We arrived at a bar and nightclub called Gingerman, and she knew the doorman. We got in free, with no cover charge. She knew exactly what she wanted to order, and the bartender knew her too. The music was pounding and so was my heart and frankly, everything in my body. I wanted this woman like nothing I’d ever experienced before.
We started dancing about nine o’clock at night, which in Chicago during the summer months is pretty damned early. But we drank and danced for an hour or two, then she said, “C’mon, let’s go somewhere else.”
The date seemed to be going pretty well thus far. She was indeed a great dancer, and her body was a marvelous thing to behold. The shirt she wore stopped just above her blue slacks, revealing a tight set of stomach muscles below a firm chest, which I’d gotten to survey during the one slow dance we enjoyed.
So we headed to another bar and she got us in without a cover again. This time, the bouncer gave me a lookup and down and turned away. I thought I saw him shake his head. Did he notice my pinned-up pantlegs? She stopped for a moment, and he lightly grasped her arm, plainly asking whether she wanted a score that night or not. Cocaine, I thought to myself. She does cocaine.
I’d never done coke, and if she scored any I would not have known how to snort it at all. I kept an eye on the doorman for a few minutes to see whether he was going to follow us into the club and offer her something in the way of drugs, but he didn’t I was relieved. “Want another drink?” I asked her.
“Nah, let’s dance some more,” she said.
Now, I was super fit at the time, with a heart rate in the low 40s per minute. But I’d run eight miles that morning and was sixty miles into a training week with speed work mixed in, so even my legs were getting tired. It was 11:30 at night but I had to admit that I was getting gassed.
There’s nothing worse than trying to dance when you’ve hit the wall. I was seven drinks into the evening and had only a ten-dollar bill in my wallet. Part of me was glad that she was done drinking because I would have spent that last bill, and then what?
So I decided to make my play after the one dance at the new club. But how does one change the direction of a date with an indefatigable woman that knows the doorman at every bar we visited?
“This is fun,” I said, trying to live in the moment. “But let’s head out after the next dance.”
“Sure,” she smiled. I mustered up a bunch of energy because the Roxy Music song “Love is the Drug” came blaring over the speakers. It was a club mix to boot, and there was no way I was going to let up at that point.
We waltzed into the night and she climbed into my Arrow and said, with a bit of objectivity in her voice, “Yeah, that was fun. But I’m tired.”
A personal accounting
Driving home I realized we didn’t have that much more to talk about. But I learned that she was an accountant studying at the Arthur Andersen accounting school complex out in St. Charles. “I know that place well,” I told her. “I went to high school in St. Charles.”
She was reverse commuting, she told me. “Do you get out there much right now?”
That’s when the thought of my girlfriend Linda first entered my mind that night “Oh yeah,” I observed. “I still have friends there.”
“Not much going on out there,” she told me. “We go downtown to St. Charles some nights, but the bars are kind of boring,” she said.
“Compared to here, yeah,” I admitted.
We pulled up to her place and I rather persistently followed her up to her apartment. We sat on the couch and she leaned back and pulled her shirt up to reveal a set of absolutely rock-hard ab muscles. “You asked if I was a dancer,” she mused. “Well, you got to dance with me, didn’t you? I love dancing, but this is kind of what I do. That, and study.”
I was 12:30 at night. I heard a sound from a room off to the side of the living room. “That’s my roommate,” she told me. “We better not wake her up, okay? This has been fun.” She gave me a quick kiss and stood up, and walking to the door, she pushed her hair back out of her eyes and smiled again, saying, “Thanks for asking me out.”
Okay sure. I didn’t get laid. But I considered the entire evening a success. For once I hadn’t let insecurity keep me from having the confidence to pursue a pretty girl. And while I was still a rube about city life, I hadn’t freaked when faced with situations where I was clearly the naive member of the party.
Just like my training and racing that summer, I was taking risks and running around with a faster crowd. It pays to push yourself in life, even if you do find yourself out of your league.