Getting ready to ride – 1988.
“I’ve been on so many blind dates, I should get a free dog!” ~ Wendy Liebman
It was a Saturday evening and I made myself comfortable on the couch. The year had just begun and, as the years before, I had brought in the New Year 1988 alone. Grandpa had been gone for a few years now, although, it felt as if he just passed away the day before. Longing to relive the precious memories that grandpa gave me on the farm, this is when I had decided to write my poetry. As my heart emptied into every piece I wrote, that’s when I looked up to the heavens above and asked Grandpa… “Why can’t I spill this same love and passion into a relationship? Grandpa, I have so much love inside to give to someone but, yet, I have no one in my life to share it with.” Feeling melancholy, I continued writing my poems, one after another, ending the evening with loneliness. I missed having someone in my life to share things with, to laugh with, to hold and someone to make love to.
It was the next morning when my friend, Donatta, called me, asking if I would be interested in meeting someone and going out on a date. It appeared that her sister, Gordana, knew someone that she worked with at the hospital, who was also single. His name was Frank Morin. Gordana and Frank knew each other and worked at Columbus Hospital together. Gordana asked Frank if he would be interested in meeting someone. With both Donatta and Gordana playing match maker, Frank and I agreed to talk on the phone and get to know one another. Little did we know, we were all connected in one way or another, as I knew Donatta and her family since my younger childhood and Gordana knowing Frank since the late seventies, when Frank was a teenager working at Columbus. Although, having blind dates in the past that were definitely unsuccessful, I was feeling somewhat reluctant to having another. I once went on a blind date with a man, who was the mirror image of Anthony Perkins from the movie, Psycho. Not recalling my date’s name as it was so long ago, but for giggles, let’s just call him… Norman. As we went through our dinner, he asked about my family and I shared that I never knew my father. It was then that Norman “psycho”analyzed (no pun intended) everything I had to say… How did I feel about not knowing him. How did I feel not having him in my life? What would I do if I ever met him… It was then that I realized Norman was a Psycho! Calling me the next day, looking for a second date, he told me that he still lived at home, with his mother, then asked me to come over for Sunday dinner so I could meet his mother. Que Psycho music, please! It was then that I told him I got back together with my old boyfriend, Bill. Yep, all within the last twelve hours of him dropping me off from our date. Okay, so I lied, but that was the last I heard from Norman.
Therefore, when Donatta asked me if I wanted to go on another blind date, I had visions of little Normans dancing around, haunting me. But, Donatta kept asking me… “What do you have to lose?!” Asking Donatta what Frank looked like, she described Frank to me as having very thick Coke-bottle glasses, he rode a Harley Davidson and he looked like Bugs Bunny! I thought to myself… wonderful! He’s blind as a bat, while riding a motorcycle and looks like a cartoon character! Wow, he sounds great… sign me up!
Frank and I talked over the phone once or twice and he seemed very easy to speak with, as we both got to know a little bit more about one another. We decided to have our first date on Saturday. It was on January 9, 1988. Not having a car, and with it being too cold to ride a motorcycle, we had to take a bus, which was completely fine with me. Living off of Ainslie and Damen, Frank didn’t live too far from me, as he lived just off of Damen and George.
Getting ready for my blind date, I was a bit nervous, as I just wanted to have a fun time. I was excited to meet someone new, but yet apprehensive, especially by Donatta’s description of him. Frank had plans to pick me up at my apartment early that afternoon. I heard a knock at the door and, before opening it, I took a deep breath. Not having a peephole, I wasn’t able to steal a look prior to opening the door. So, as the saying goes… I was going in blind. Upon opening the door, I saw what stood before me a very nice young man, wearing blue jeans, biker boots and a leather biker jacket with a chocolate bar in one hand that he had just purchased off of a kid who was selling them in front of the Sears department store on Lawrence Avenue and a beautiful bouquet of flowers in the other. Making sure that he didn’t have any floppy ears, he did, indeed, have very thick glasses, the kind that Harry Caray wore. Thanking Frank for the flowers and candy, we both said our hellos, introducing ourselves to one another in person. Locking up my apartment, we headed to the bus stop, where our first stop would be a trip to Lincoln Park Zoo. While riding the bus down to the lake, it was at this point that Frank decided to propose marriage to me… “Will you marry me?” Yes, my blind date had asked me to marry him. I didn’t know the man for fifteen minutes and he was already asking for my hand in marriage. Yes, Norman was back! If memory serves me correctly, I ignored Frank’s first proposal, along with the second one at the zoo, and the one over lunch, and the marriage proposal on the bus ride home. All I thought was GET ME HOME! Who proposes to someone on the first date? Knowing that I had a full date ahead of me, I tried to make the best of it. We walked through the zoo, visiting the lion’s den and going through the monkey house and eventually making our way to the reptiles. We had lunch at the Belden Deli on Clark and Belden. I had a corned beef sandwich, which was a mistake. Every chew I took, the corned beef stuck to my teeth. Using my tongue, I eloquently and, unnoticeably, tried scrapping the corned beef from my teeth and the roof my mouth. I probably looked like a cow chewing cud.
After lunch, Frank and I went to Chicago History Museum, where we came across a wishing well fountain, where we both decided to make a wish. Frank makes a wish and tosses his penny into the fountain. Handing me a penny, I also throw a wish into the well, longing for a relationship that would come into my life and last forever. Unbeknownst to me at the time, Frank said he wished for the exact same thing. As our date was ending and Frank was bringing me back home, he asked if he could come over the next day, Sunday, to watch the Bears game with me. Little did he know, I wasn’t a fan of football nor did I have any further intentions of seeing him again. I didn’t feel the connection and Frank smoked, which was a real turnoff to me. But, I didn’t know how to say no to him when he asked if he could come over to watch the game. So, before leaving my apartment, I said, yes, sure, come on over and watch the Bears game. Oh yay… football! Saying our good-byes and thanking each other for a nice time, I was preparing for a kiss good-bye. Somewhat awkward, I didn’t know if I should pucker up or politely extended a cheek. As I was examining the consequences, it was at this point that Frank extended his right hand and offered me a handshake good-bye. Shaking my hand, Frank explained to me that he didn’t kiss on the first date, he shook hands instead. Was this a joke? Frank didn’t kiss on the first date, but he can propose marriage to me twenty times?! My thoughts were… one Bears game and he’s gone!
Frank arrived just before kickoff. Timing the game, I figured he would be out of there within three hours! But, as we spent the afternoon together, talking about this and that, I soon discovered that Frank was full of charm and had a very kind and sweet disposition to him. I also enjoyed his dry humor, which I, myself, inherited from my mother. Sitting next to him, I noticed his clean manicured nails. Admiring his mustache, too, I noticed just a hint of chest hair that peeked out from underneath his sweater. I always loved a man with facial and chest hair. Noticing that the game had ended hours before, I realized that Frank and I did have a connection after all, we talked the afternoon away. It wasn’t long after that Sunday football game that we were dating. It was only a week later that Frank told me that he was in love with me. Starting to have feelings myself, I looked up and thanked my grandfather for listening to my prayers that one lonely night, sending Frank to me, having someone to share my life with and love. Frank later confided that when he went home after our first date, he shared with his two brothers that evening, Geno and Patrick, as well as Bubby that he had met the girl that he was going to marry. He also shared with me that the moment I opened up my apartment door and greeted him, he felt this “whoosh” going through him, as if cupid’s arrow hit him directly in the heart. He said it was love at first sight. And, why wouldn’t he kiss me on the first date again?
Donatta was very happy that I had met someone; surely feeling proud of herself making a love connection between the two of us. The only counseling and words of advice that Donatta offered to me were, “Don’t you sleep with him; don’t you sleep with him right away; wait a few weeks!” It was about a week later I told Donatta that Frank was very lovely; we were falling in love and he told me that he loved me. Without delay, Donatta asked… “You slept with him, didn’t you?!” Ummm, why, yes, I did.
One afternoon, after Frank and I were dating for a while, he had asked to speak to my mother. He wanted to ask her a question… if he could have my hand in marriage. My mother’s reply was typical, as she said, “You can have her hand, you can have her feet, you can have anything… just fuckin’ marry her!” Thanks mom!
It was over the next several weeks that I had met Frank’s family. He came from such a large family that I had to meet them literally in shifts. I met Frank’s mother, Anne, who is known affectionately to all as Bubby. She was the most sweetest woman one can ever meet. Bubby was very kind, aimed to accommodate and treated me as if I had been a part of their family all along. She was a petite woman, who had a head full of gray hair and wore very thick glasses. “Like mother, like son.” She bounced around the kitchen, cooking this, serving that, never doing enough for others. Listening and watching the older brothers around her, I sensed that she was nothing short of being the highlight of their lives. Bubby gave birth to seventeen children; eight boys and nine girls, with Frank being one of the youngest and having a twin sister to the oldest son being a Catholic priest. I never met Frank’s father, as he had passed years before we ever met. I enjoyed meeting all of Frank’s brothers and sisters… eventually. They all made me feel very comfortable being in their home.
Spring had sprung and it was time to unleash the motorcycle from the garage. Frank had a Sportster and, never being around a motorcycle, let along being on one, Frank was fast to teach me the proper etiquette of riding with him on his Harley.
- Wear protective eye gear
- Mount and dismount the bike from the left
- Wait for the rider to mount or dismount first
- Don’t use the pipes as a mounting device to get on and off the bike
- When making a turn, lean into the turn with the rider.
- Don’t touch the pipes… they’re frickin’ hot!
- Pray for a safe ride. “… May the Angels guard my travels for they know what is ahead of me…”
Riding the Highway
“The best alarm clock is sunshine on chrome.” ~Author Unknown
Sliding my arms around Frank’s hips, I rest my fingers within the belt loop of his blue jeans, holding on as we hit the open road. Frank didn’t have a car, so his Harley was our form of transportation. Rain or shine, we rode. I enjoyed the freedom that riding offered, no barriers, sun in your face and your knees in the wind, as you became one with the pavement beneath you. We took many runs, riding to Wisconsin to visit with my grandmother or riding with Frank’s brother, Geno, spending the weekend at Shafer Lake in the Indiana Dunes, traveling the many hills the state park offered. Some of my favorite rides were when we’d go back to the farm where my grandparents once lived. Visiting the neighbors across the road, who housed many cats, I told Frank that once home, I wanted to adopt a little baby kitty, basically so the cat that I already shared my life with, Déjà vu, had a friend. Once at the pet store, I found the perfect kitten, a black and white domestic that we decided to take him home to be a part of our family. Not being able to carry a box on the bike, I decided to tuck the new Kitten within my jacket, riding all the way home on the back of Frank’s Harley. Not knowing what to name the new addition, we decided to name it “Leather,” as it rode all the way home nestled contently deep inside my leather jacket.
My relationship with Frank was going strong and I liked where it was heading. We had passion, laughter, a sense of playfulness. I was ready to spend the rest of my life with Frank, his family, our family.
Riding on the back of Frank’s Harley gave me a sense of freedom and excitement. For two young couples who were learning to love one another, exploring each other, it was a thrill riding with Frank, as our bodies were so close to one another, touching, almost spooning as if we were one. I watched as Frank’s skull earring dangled in the wind, as his headband kept his long hair out of his face. He looked rugged, typical biker, and I loved it. To me, there was a sensual side to riding, as with every turn of the throttle, you felt the vibration from the motor between your thighs. It was beautiful to know that I was sharing this with Frank. I loved having the wind in my face as we rode, with my hair whipping behind me, while closing my eyes and smelling the freshness of the new day. I enjoyed early morning rides as we would watch the sun come up around us, artfully displaying our silhouettes against the blacktop, as if racing with my own shadow friend. The sun that was high in the sky was now heating my body and it felt welcoming. Riding was such a turn on and I was very happy to have shared this experience with Frank. Sadly, it would soon all be taken away from us, from me, as Frank and I prepare our future together.