Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Find Me (a short story)

When they were dating, Harold and Jane invented a game called "Find Me." Basically, they would make plans to go out in Fullerton. Either Harold or Jane would go somewhere, anywhere, not tell the other where he/she was, and wait for the other to find him/her, sort of like hide and seek. The "seeker" could text questions to the "seekee" (for clues), but the following questions were not allowed:

1.) Where are you?

2.) What are the major cross streets?

Thus, the seeker had to be creative with his/her questions (i.e. Are you at a restaurant? Are you at a retail store? Are you indoors? Does the establishment where you are provide services or goods?). Once they had been dating a while and had some history together, the questions could be more personal (i.e. Have we danced together at this place? Do I like the food the place serves? Does the place have to do with any of my hobbies? etc.)

When he was the seekee, one thing Harold liked to do was to try to blend in with the place he chose, so even if Jane found him, she would not see him right away. For example, once he went to his uncle's welding shop and dressed like a welder with the face mask and everything. Another time, he wore a Del Taco uniform, and sat at at table in Del Taco, with his head down, like he was an employee on a break.

Jane liked to hide in more exotic places, usually outdoors. Once, she hid for two hours in a fern bush in the Fullerton Arboretum. This was a difficult search for Harold. Once he had determined that she was in the Arboretum, he had to ask questions like, "Are you near a conifer? Are the plants you are near native to Southern California? Are they seed-bearing?" etc.

This game continued throughout their courtship and into their marriage. When they moved to Milwaukee for Jane's graduate school, the game took on a whole new level of difficulty. For the first several months, it would take them hours to find each other. Once, Harold spent an entire day in the Miller brewery before Jane found him in the gift shop, dressed as a custodian.

Most of their friends found this game strange. Why, they asked, would they want to spend at least half of their dates alone? Neither Harold nor Jane could quite answer this question, but they never grew tired of the game. Perhaps it had to do with their psychological makeup. Both were independent people, both liked games, both liked to explore. And thus, the game went on.

As they grew older, they developed an ever-expanding, atlas-like knowledge of the greater Milwaukee area, and their knowledge was completely unique to them, independent of any map or google search. Their knowledge of the geography was intimately linked to their history together. For example, once, when they were lost in an unfamiliar part of town, Jane was able to find their way home because they passed a coffee shop where Harold once dressed as a homeless man, hunched against some bricks outside, asking her for change. When she dropped 35 cents in his old Dixie cup, he had taken her hand and said, "You found me."

3 comments:

  1. This is a good story. :) Truth be told, I wanted it to go on. Is that possible? Or did you conceive of this tale as being complete in itself?

    ~ Susan Dennis

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  2. That's beautiful! And I love it b/c it was who they were, not what others were trying to tell them who they should be...and they were happy; fictional or non. :)

    Shayna Cunningham~

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