The Lock-In

“Venus was out roller skating.”

Mars had expectations, but Venus dashed those to pieces.

She washed her long blonde hair with strawberry crème rinse, wriggled into her tightest Jordache jeans, smacked on some extra lip gloss and—boom! Goddess of Love was outta there.

Of course I’m being oblique, but there’s a ring of truth to it, since the Venus line comes from the 1977 diary.

You see, I was really into Wings’ Venus and Mars album, so I equated any given fateful night as: “Venus and Mars are alright tonight.”

The fateful night in question was Saturday, May 14. There’s scant run-up to it in the diary, but some quick thinking brought it all back—the Bethel Methodist Church Youth Lock-In Night.

For the uninformed, Youth Lock-In Night was a chance to quarantine oversexed, drug-addled and automobile-enabled teenagers for an entire night, all the while hourly inoculating them with evangelical fervor. The trick was to get adults willing to chaperone all night, shake things up with games, Bible lessons and some live entertainment, and hopefully lives will have been saved. You know, for Jesus, ’natch.

I was desperately hoping Kim would attend—a prime opportunity for us to “get back together.”

Instead, Kristi was there, dogging my heels all night.

Kim had decided to go roller skating instead.

***

So where do Zeus and Hera fit into all this? What were the folks thinking?

“Mike, she’s fickle,” Dad once said to me about Kim. He wanted to shake me out of it.

That’s the first of only two pieces of advice about love Dad probably ever gave to me. He wasn’t what you’d call a Student of the Heart, but he could spot a wooden nickel from a thousand yards.

Pop had to be doing something right. After all, my parents were married for just over 50 years: December 21, 1957 – 2007. I heard stories of their early courtship from Dad, just after Mom passed away in May 2008.

They had a regular “pizza night”: going out for a couple beers and ordering a “round-the-world” pizza topped with “everything but the kitchen sink.” They travelled together (above left photo from 1988, at the Minnesota State Fair). And after their wedding in 1957, they honeymooned in New Orleans. Perfect.

But surely it wasn’t all smooth sailing. They bickered, as couples often do, and that bothered me. Maybe I expected their fights to have more fire, rather than just peppering buckshot over the hedges at each other. Probably says more about me than them.

After 2006, Mom’s health quickly deteriorated. Dad tried to take care of her, but had to call in hospice. Exhaustion weighed heavy in his voice when I talked to him on our regular Sunday afternoon phone chats.

He knew she was going. He knew he was losing the love of his life.

The night before Mom’s memorial service, I camped out in the living room, just a couple feet from the master bedroom where Dad then slept alone.

I heard him say his prayers. He murmured the names of family and friends and—when he said Mom’s name aloud—he broke down sobbing.

That’s the second lesson Dad ever gave me about love.

***

Back at the Lock-In, my friends Jeff, Greg (or was it Vince that night?) and Skeeze, appearing as their band Tempest, took the stage of Bethel Methodist Church’s basement. It was just after 9:30 p.m., and they played until almost 11. I’d been there for about an hour before show time, hanging out with Charley, Lori, Brenda, Julie and Kristi.

“Everyone was running around, talking,” the diary states. Kristi and I watched TV upstairs late into the night. We were all allowed to leave after 5:30 a.m., first helping get the church cleaned up in time for Sunday service.

“I gave Kristi a ride home,” I wrote, adding parenthetically: “Don’t worry, she knows my mind is forever on Kim.”

If you’re talking about love, you’re probably talking about something else. But it becomes entirely different when it’s lived in practice and mutually held in witness.

Between two people, love is “the third thing”—the thing bigger than just the two in the relationship. I don’t know. Marriage and long-term commitment have always evaded me. I’ve chosen, for better or worse, my own sort of Lock-In.

That choice was, I’m sure, a complete mystery to my parents.

Heck, it’s still a mystery to me.

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~ by completelyinthedark on March 10, 2012.

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