One day in December, Selma Rothman opened her mail and found a post card, of a kind, from Harold. The message was written out in mock-telegraphese:
“MOM AND DAD: IT HAPPENED! / STOP / I AM IN LOVE STOP /
IT’S REALLY AMAZING / STOP / MORE DETAILS FOLLOW / STOP/
WOOF WOOF / YOUR PLYMOUTH MAN, H.”
The message was smeared. Selma was worried. “What could he be on now?” she wondered.
Of course, it was only the snow. Harold had written the card after coming in from the snow–
Ah yes, details, details.
How did it happen? Well, you know how these things happen.
Of course, it took a while after meeting Ann for Harold to summon the courage to call her. It wasn’t that he wasn’t interested — he was. But there were other things to do. Like his studies. After all, Rothman didn’t want to get kicked out again. So, first, he focused on his studies. Nothing like an enforced exile to make one appreciate just how extraordinary a thing it was to be a student at a Major U.S. University in the Year of Our Lord 1971. It was fun to be back in class. It was good to go to the Campus Store and shop for supplies again. It was good to run to class. It was good to be a student. Just a moment ago Rothman had been chained to a microfilm reader in the bowels of the New York Public Library, the modern day bureaucratic equivalent of breaking rocks. Now he was back on The Hill. He was back in class. Yes, now he was ready to,
in the mocking words of the old dada-chant he and his friends used to derisively call out as they goose-stepped across the Quad:
Work, study, get ahead
Sock it to me!
Work, study, get ahead!
Sock it to me!
No kidding. It was good to be back beneath the sheltering elms. He had done his Real World Time. It was good to be back in the Bubble. No more pot! No more Death Trips. This time Harold was going to buckle down. His parents insisted. So did the Committee on Academic Records.
So Harold buckled down.
And yet he Couldn’t Stop Thinking About Her.
So he called and they had their first awkward date at the Ivy Room. In a moment of inspiration, Harold asked Ann how her classes were going.
“So, how are your classes going,” he said, as a dollop of Russian dressing oozed out of his Boburger and fell on his lap. Nice touch! That’s bound to impress her.
“Okay,” Ann replied, looking ever-so-slightly bored.
“So, uh, why did you come here” Harold asked.
“My parents sent me here to meet a Plymouth Man,” Ann replied, shooting him an appraising look.
And so it went. Call it the dangling date.
“Call me,” Ann said, much to his surprise, as she got up to go.
And so he did. Rothman had an idea.
“Hey, want to go to the Commons with me Saturday?”
And so that Saturday they went to the Commons Coffeehouse. That was nice. And yet sitting next to Ann, as they listened to the obligatory harp-playing-guitarist on tap that night, Harold couldn’t help but feel despondent. This wasn’t happening, and he knew it, and she did, too.
It was snowing when they emerged.
“Want me to take you back?”
And then, as they were walking down The Slope, it happened: Ann accidentally bumped into Harold. Harold pushed back. Then Ann deliberately pushed back. Then Harold pushed back. Then Ann took a big handful of snow and pushed it down on his head. Then Harold did the same. This was war.
And then, somehow, as the snow continued to fall, they were kissing.
This was it. They knew it. Just like the message that went out from Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941: “AIR RAID. THIS IS NO DRILL.”
This was no drill. This was love. Harold knew it. That’s why that night, when he came in from the snow after making out with Ann he wrote that post card to his Mom–
It had happened. Stop. Harold Rothman was in love. Stop. Details to follow.