Her Glass Eye and Me


Her glass eye never bothered me. But killing me off with a heart attack?

That was a problem.

This is a true love story because I was looking for true love. Or, like the previous marriage, some reasonable facsimile.

But the bright sunlight of truth fades to shadow for this story. Not just because it was a long time ago. But because, now looking back, I was never sure if anything she told me was really true.

There are some facts at the core of this.

I remember the look that combined horror, admiration and pity that flied across my friend Larry’s face that summer when I told him I had put a personal ad in the paper We were on a picnic bench resting with two frosty mugs of beer on the cobblestone patio of Riesi’s Bier Stube on Irving Park Road.

Men looking for women ads, I guess I should say, is what people used before Internet dating sites. I suppose there were also women looking for men ads. But I don’t remember too many of those.

I remember the ad said something about me looking for a woman who appreciated what it would be like to live in Mayberry, the fictional hometown of The Andy Griffith Show.

She’d also have to know all the words to “I Got You Babe,” by Sonny and Cher.

I hadn’t yet learned that all this talking in code could be a problem. That forging bonds over TV shows and songs that could mean anything to anyone.

Larry’s first question, after several seconds of silence and a couple of long, long drinks of his giant Weiss bier was of course, “So did anybody respond to you?” Emphasis on the word “you????”

“I got 75 responses!”

“Get out. Bullshit you did.”

“No, I really did,” And I remember being proud of that. Of course this was long before I had figured out that more is sometimes not better.

“But were they like psycho weirdoes? Women just out of prison? I know you didn’t go out on 75 dates. You’re too cheap.”

“I called back 20, and I went out with 5.”

“What about those 5?”

“Well, there’s one I’d like to see again.”

“Nice looking?”

“No but . . .”

“Funny? Rich? What?”

“She has a glass eye.”

“No way . . .“ he shook has head in the knowing way that friends do.

“And. . . .” I continued with the other part, the inevitable punch line we both knew was coming. “She’s a writer.”

“So,” he summed up. “She’s perfect for you. A glass eyed writer. Perfect for you. Does she really have a glass eye?”

I answered with an indignant “Of course!”

But looking back all these years later, all I really knew was that one eye looked in a different direction sometimes. Seemed to be more still. I didn’t really know. But she did SAY she had a glass eye.

And I never actually saw anything she wrote. But. . . .

I really wanted to her to be a writer.

Back then I wouldn’t have known the word “Edgy.” But if I would have known the word then—it’s what I would have used to describe what I was looking for.

Our first date was at Miller’s Pub. Nestled under the el tracks in the loop. Dusty framed pictures of celebrities from the 1950’s and 1960’s on the walls. Tall red vinyl booths and waitresses named Shirley who had seen it all.

And we really did like each other. Besides, as I learned later, a woman who knows how to show up unannounced at the door of a guy’s apartment, wearing only a raincoat and heels makes an impression.

Every now and then I’d wonder how her writing was going. But there was always some problem with a publisher I didn’t understand.

We passed some seasons together. Even a Christmas when both of us were alone. And knowing we wouldn’t always be together, gave each other ornaments for future trees, future loves.

At least that’s what I thought.

Often wouldn’t hear from her for a few weeks or months. But didn’t think much about it. I was not actually busy with the other 74 respondents to the personal ad. But her absences were not something I thought a whole lot about.

Then one day in the spring I walked into my apartment as the phone was ringing. Ran to pick it up and got “Hello Roger, it’s me, Melanie? From St. Louis! Cynthia’s best friend? I’m so excited to talk to you in person! Listen. Our plane is due in next Friday and we are so excited about your wedding!

And that’s where it got weird.

Because talk of weddings with my glass eyed friend Cynthia never, ever, ever ever happened. Ever.

I had no idea there was a wedding plan. I didn’t even know there was a friend named Melanie from St. Louis. One who would be getting an airplane next Friday.

All I knew at that moment was this cold, slimy shiver of fear that coursed through my very soul as I stood looking out onto Roscoe Street in Chicago with that phone in my hand.

In the several weeks prior to the call, Melanie told me—she had been to Chicago to help Cynthia go shopping for a dress. She said that Cynthia loved the ring I had given her. And was so pleased that her best friend had finally found someone she wanted to marry.

Stammering out that I had no idea what she was talking about; I don’t remember everything I said. But I did get across that she might want to NOT get on that airplane and come to Chicago. Because there was no wedding plan.

I remember she asked me, “You’re the Roger who is the executive with the electric company, right?

“Yeah.”

“So I don’t understand?” she said

“Me neither!”

We hung up and I began making calls to try and find Cynthia. There were always housing issues with her. And sometimes she didn’t have a phone. She moved around a lot. And I wasn’t able to reach her that day.

The weekends passed and still no Cynthia. No word at all.

Swaying back and forth between the comedy (Gosh, shouldn’t I be getting ready for my wedding?) and the creepiness of the situation, it was a long weekend.

Finally, come Monday, I reached her boss.

“Cynthia,” this guy told me, “had to take a few days off… . . . . .”

“How come?”

“Because her fiancé, some guy named Roger, had a heart attack. And they’re not sure if he’s gonna make it.”

“Not sure?”

“Yeah, they were going to move to Dallas. That’s where he was being transferred. But now all the plans are on hold.”

I thanked him and hung up the phone.

Called a few more numbers where I thought I might find her—and didn’t.

And I never saw her again.

A couple of weeks after all this ended, I remember walking to my car with Larry after work one day. We got to the edge of the parking lot and he said, “Tell you what Roger, I’ll stay over here, and you go on over and start your car. Just in case anything’s wired to that ignition, we wouldn’t want the world to loose both of us, would we?”

“She didn’t really try and kill me off. She just talked about it.”

“Yeah. Right. I know. She’s a writer,” he laughed.

“That’s what she told me.”

“Uh huh. Well, you sure wanted her to be a writer. Maybe next time, you might want to oh I don’t know . . .maybe see something she wrote?”

3 Responses to “Her Glass Eye and Me”

  1. RicTresa Says:

    You two timing sucker! I thought you were getting ready to marry my 4th cousin, twice removed? I mean aren’t you the Roger, president of Open Salon?

  2. Dale Says:

    Well, we know someone is a legitimate writer . . .

    I like this more arch “What Color Is My Parachute?” you’ve got going here. It’s an interesting angle. Might need a bit more practical how-to’s to balance out (or follow up on) a chapter like this, though. I’m seeing a reader sitting there thinking “Yeah, but how do I get a job??????”

    IMHO

  3. Ted Schneider Says:

    Roger,
    We all fool ourselves at one point or another in life because we want so badly to believe in others. We need not fool ourselves about our own abilities and results since that is where a trusted friend comes in – they honestly evaluate you or the situation and provide feedback. We also fool oursleves about institutions and other things in life because we must look past the ugly parts in order to survive.

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