birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Blind Date

It was late summer, 1962, in the 5,000 person town of Buchanan, Michigan. I was about to start my senior year of high school. One of the girls from choir at our small Catholic Church called and said that her Notre Dame fiance had a friend who needed a date. Would I like to go on a blind date with a Notre Dame guy? 

Of course I would. My father had gone to Notre Dame, and the family believed that one could not do better than to go out with a Notre Dame man. My parents said yes. I said yes.

Lou and Kathy showed up early on a Saturday evening, and introduced me to their friend. I said “Hi,” and forgot his name immediately. He was handsome in a Midwest wholesome, brown hair, blue-eyed way. I sat in the back seat with him, and we made polite conversation about him, his interests, Notre Dame, the weather . . . I kept trying ploys to get Lou or Kathy to say his name. Nothing worked.

We got to the county fairgrounds, parked the car, went in. We walked through the exhibits: the poultry barn, the flowers, the Black Angus cattle, each one with its name, weight, and the price someone had paid per pound to turn it into beef. It was the first year that I didn’t have an exhibit; I had spent the summer in Germany as an exchange student. But he had never done 4-H, so all of this had little meaning, and no more opportunities to learn his name.

We got Fair food of some sort, and ate it walking around in the warm August night. Then it was time for rides, and we chose the rickety wooden roller coaster that creaked and shook as the metal cars zoomed over the tracks. He helped me in and out of the car, taking my hand just long enough to guide my steps.

We drove home, a half hour again in the back seat of the car. I don’t recall whether we held hands – I think maybe so. I tried again to find out his name. No luck. He walked me to the front door, and said pleasant polite goodbyes under the porch light. He walked back to the car, and I never saw him again. It would have been too embarrassing to ask Lou or Kathy about his name, and I never did. He started a stranger; we shared an evening; and he has remained a stranger for the rest of my life.

an evening meeting
blossoms in the sake cups
dried in the morning

Dx: No Clue

My Father's Death