OJ’s Big Date
“Okay, so what exactly is happening?” asked my aunt Cheryl, for the third time. I took a deep breath, and tried again to explain that it was a Blind Date Dinner, and that each Sand Riser had picked the name of another Sand Riser from a hat, and was responsible for picking a blind date for that person. On June 1, I told her, we were going to all come together for a party, and meet and spend time with our blind dates. “Ohhhh, and you want me to be someone’s date! Okay, and who am I dating?”
“Oren Jakobsen. He’s the Grandmaster.”
“Alright, I’ll go if you can talk my sister into coming too.”
Yes! Hanging up the phone, I pumped my fists emphatically from the back room of the kitchen, and called my mother. Though not the most easily articulated idea in the world, Polly’s Bind Date Dinner proposal had taken off, and I had the perfect date(s) lined up for the Grandmaster.
The date finally came, after weeks of speculation around the farm. Who had Dan’s name? What were the chances for romance in the Rising Sand air? The big ticket names were the singles among us: Dan McDougle, Kelly, Danny W., and Monica. On the night-of, I was fortunate enough to roll into the party with Jimi C – Fanni’s date pick for Monica — following the car with Mom, Cheryl, and Fanni. Oren was by the sink, preparing a salad as we rolled up. “Oren!” I called, “I’ve got two lovely ladies to introduce you to.” Being the gentleman he is, Oren stopped and gave my mother and aunt his full attention, and welcomed them to join him by the salad station. So they did and the party progressed, as random games and conversations arose, lights were hung, dates arrived and bountiful food manifested on the table.
After some time of conversing and roaming, Polly clinked her wine glass for an announcement. “I think we’re ready to eat.” she announced, “Also, there is a toilet-area up there to the west of the granary, past that wheelbarrow. If you need to use it, just bring the wheelbarrow with you, as a marker that it’s occupied. Okay, let’s eat!”
We got our food and I joined my date, the lovely Shelbie Atwell, at one end of the table. We conversed lightly until the topic of law school somehow arose. “So, do you have to be really smart to get through law school?” she asked, “or just really good at school.”
“Well here’s the thing,” interjected the Grandmaster, before proceeding to tell us the thing. A mouthful of minutes later, he finished Rant-One, carrying along half of the long table of guests for his swift and blustering story. “…So the guy actually jumped in the water and drowned, because he didn’t know how to swim! See, and this is just one example…” I looked at my befuddled date. “So, is he still talking about law school?” she asked, a bit incredulously. “I’m not sure,” I responded, laughing. The truth is that by this point it really didn’t matter; we were just engaged in a classic RSO meal, and classic Oren Jakobsen monologue.
Needing a bit of alone time after the meal, I made my way over to the wheelbarrow and escorted it slowly up the hill, to the “toilet area” behind the small stack of bails. What I’d expected to be a full-on porta-potty was really just a pack-a-potty, open to the world on three sides, and containing nowhere near the holding capacity for what I’d had in mind. Damn. Disappointed, I grabbed the wheelbarrow and trudged back down the hill, where I caught up with Oren and started throwing some Frisbee. “So yeah, Cheryl actually raised the chickens that laid those deviled eggs that I brought.”
“I know,” he responded, “she told me.”
“Yeah, did she tell you about her school board career?”
“Yep. 15 years.”
“They’ve been dairy farming for a long time too…”
Wow. You can never, I learned, underestimate the conversational force of two long-winded people who both know that they know a lot. The late evening found the bulk of the party gathered around the Logan Brice fire, while Jimi C and I lounged by the table in the dark, laughing and kicking freestyles. “… wearing tuxedos… eatin’ Fritos; Flamin’ Hot Cheetos…” Having just shared a colorful smoke with one of the other guests, he lost it as I spit this line, geeking so hard he broke the board he’d been sitting on. A few minutes later, our consciousness stream was interrupted by Monica’s walking by. “Hey, get over here, girl!” Jimi called, laughingly. “We’re in date mode, come on… I broke this just for you!” he gestured down to the two pieces of board beneath him. “I even saved you the big half!” We burst into uproarious laughter, and I took my leave as Monica joined Jimi on the broken board.
Meanwhile, the small crew remaining by the fire conversed and joked about prospective “successes” from date night, the pack-a-potty market, and other randomosities as they arose. The fire fizzled as the party slowly dissolved, leaving a beautiful mess, and overall air of lightness and refreshment over the farm and those involved. Though Oren and Cheryl may not wind up together forever, I realized, at least they got to share one special moment, and many, many words.