it was thanksgiving weekend of 2002. i had just spent the holiday in nyc with my beloved ami g. my mom has a picture of the 2 of us at the macy’s thanksgiving day parade. taken just before or just after we talked to my dad about what he learned from ami about defining success that he used when working with the inmates at the idaho state penitentiary.
i took the bus (not a greyhound) up and back. on the ride back, i found myself sitting next to fritz duplessis. he wasn’t just riding from nyc to dc; he was moving to dc. and he was nervous. dc is a scary place, you know. he might get shot or killed or something down there. dc being the murder capital of the world and all. i found it amusing that someone who grew up in the one of nyc’s boroughs would be afraid of little ol’ washington, dc.
fritz was haitian. he had apparently never left new york state in his whole life. he was moving to dc for a job.
being the friendly (and some would say foolish) person that i am, i kept chatting (instead of sitting silently like a good bus rider) and tried to assuage his fears. i mean, hello, i grew up in a small town in idaho. and i wasn’t scared in dc. i also wasn’t stupid and knew where not to wind up alone at night. i assured fritz that where the bus was dropping us off was a safe place to be. he wasn’t assuaged.
but the bus ride isn’t the good part of the story. i just want you to know how i met this gem.
somewhere between nyc and dc, we exchanged info. he might have given me his card. i don’t remember.
neither of us had a car so at some point in the next few weeks, we arranged to meet up for dinner somewhere metro accessible. i suggested adams morgan. if you’re familiar with dc at all, you know that adams morgan isn’t nearly as metro accessible as numberless other neighborhoods. chalk it up to me trying to look hip for my little friend.
we ate at the spaghetti garden. far and away not the coolest place in adams morgan. shows how dc hip i really wasn’t. (let’s remember that i had moved to the dc/va area only a few months previously.)
now let me see if i can recreate the conversation over our pasta dinner.
fd: tell me everything about you. i want to know it all. everything. just talk and tell me everything.
me: uhh. why don’t you ask me questions? what do you want to know? um.
fd: just tell me everything. i want to know everything about you.
i must have told him some vital statistics (that he didn’t already know from our time on ze bus). i’m guessing he knew at this point that i was from idaho, that i am lds, probably what my job was, my education, my world travels, the basics of my family.
it wasn’t enough.
fd: tell me everything. i want to know it all.
me: i really need you to ask me questions at this point. i can’t just keep talking. i don’t know where to start or what you want to know.
fd: i want to know everything. tell me everything. the questions i have are really personal. intensely personal. i don’t want to ask you those questions until i know more about you.
me: um. i was born in the year of the rabbit? you really can’t ask me questions?
fd: when i ask questions, i get personal. i don’t want to get so personal until i know as much as i can about you.
at this point i was confused. i hope you would have been to.
then we went back and forth for a bit while i tried to convince him that i could handle his “personal” questions. or at least that he needed to give me an example of one of his questions, so that i perhaps could understand what he meant by “personal” and what all i needed to spill before he would think he knew enough to start down his line of inquiry.
i finally won (i think), and fd agreed to ask one of his questions. after one more round of explaining how personal his questions really would be.
fd: how reLIGious ARE you?
those capital letters are my feeble attempt to help you understand how he emphasized those words. he lingered on them and looked at me like he was getting really and very and intensely personal with every syllable. like he was trying to bore into my very soul. he was unsuccessful, in case you’re wondering. but somehow i knew what he was asking. so i responded.
me: there are some things i will not do and some places i will not go before i get married. [that really might be an exact quote of what i said to fritz.]
and somehow he knew what i meant.
fd: wow. thank you so much for being so up front and honest about it. for coming right out and telling me. i really appreciate it. you have just saved me a lot of money on flowers and chocolate.