The last solar eclipse over the continental U.S. was on Monday, February 26, 1979. Claudette worked in the x-ray department at Lutheran Hospital in Des Moines, Iowa. She and her co-workers took some x-ray film and went outside to look at the sun through the film. They were not in the path of totality (had the term been invented yet?), but they could still feel the “ah” in awesome as they looked through the film. It was thirty-eight years ago, but she still remembers.
Another thing Claudette remembers is her one and only blind date. She was a large girl in those days, and with Twiggy as the female role model, she was, as they say, out of style.
A co-worker insisted that Claudette meet her brother, Bradley. Bradley lived at home with his parents, but he was smart, stocky, and he drove a Vega. Claudette drove a Datsun 510, so the match could work, or so she thought.
Bradley picked her up and took her to Noah’s Italian restaurant on Ingersoll Avenue. He was a few inches taller and not bad looking, but there was no zing of chemistry when they met.
Inside the restaurant they settled in for their dinner date. Claudette chatted away, but Bradley didn’t say much. Claudette ordered a gin and tonic, and Bradly ordered a Singapore Sling, a girly drink. Her mix was tonic; his was Grenadine. She had a lime wedge as garnish, he, a cherry.
Claudette liked rock and roll by Crosby, Stills, and Nash. Bradley liked show tunes, especially by Barbra Streisand. She liked Black Sabbath. He liked Tina Turner and Dianna Ross.
They ate their plates of spaghetti and drank their gin drinks. The cherry stems were building up on his bread plate, the spent lime wedges on hers.
She asked another question. He answered. She asked another, He answered again. There was no back and forth; it was a one-sided conversation. She was exhausted.
These days, people sign up for a meet and greet over a drink or coffee. Then, if there is no chemistry, a person can excuse herself to the bathroom and then disappear, or have a friend call and fake an emergency.
But in 1979 Claudette had to suffer through the entire meal and the ride home. The whole date had been three hours. Bradley didn’t try to kiss her, because he was as disinterested as she had become.
“I didn’t need his sorry ass,” Claudette said. “I was and still am too independent.”
Couldda Wouldda Shouldda
If Bradley and Claudette would’ve hit it off, they could’ve gone outside today to look at the solar eclipse together on their 37th or 38th anniversary.
Claudette, you can look at the eclipse yourself. Grab some x-ray film or your NASA approved glasses and go for it!