An hour before midnight on Christmas Eve, Tracy answered the door to her house.
"Hey, how's it going, Psycho?" She greeted me with my high school nickname, which I'd laboriously earned after four straight years of goofing-off. I'll admit that I had a great time causing mischief with the guys at my high school, but I didn't get many dates those days. The girls couldn't be blamed, because I doubt "Psycho" sounded like a person they'd want to share an intimate moment with.
Tracy has curly brown hair and a round face, and when she smiles her eyes open wide and her short eyebrows grow perky. She's in her sixth year at Michigan State University for the medical program. About fifteen inches of snow had covered our town, so
Tracy and I planned to brave the cold for "Date of the Week" XVI to go sledding. I said good-bye to Tracy's mom as we left. "Don't worry," I told her. "If anybody gets injured, we've got a doctor with us." Tracy rolled her eyes, apparently not too confident in her medical expertise.
For the second straight week, I was taking out a sister of a friend. Tracy's younger brother is my sweetchum companion, Bill. Before this night, the only side of Tracy I'd ever seen was when she used to drive me and Bill around. She never talked to me at all, and she never talked to her brother in anything less than a fury-ridden scream. Seeing Bill and Tracy's brother-sister rivalry was like watching two rabid wolverines fighting. They may have actually loved each other deep down inside, but they only showed it by not killing each other.
So, I wasn't sure what to expect. I asked Tracy why she wanted to become a doctor. "I wanna make people's lives better," she said.
That seemed pretty nice. I told her my college major, Creative Writing, and she asked what I hoped to do with that. I thought it over. My plans weren't as well-meaning as hers. "I don't know," I said, "... hopefully, I can get some sort of job." In fact, my plans weren't even plans.
When we got to the hill, Tracy told me of her experience as a sledder. "I've already had four concussions from sledding. Once, I went over a jump and my head bumped hard on the ice. Another time, I ran into a snow fence. Then, another time ... "
Now, I'm no doctor. But, if I was, after hearing this, I think I'd be telling Tracy not to leave the house during winter. Luckily, there wasn't a snow fence anywhere near the hill, but there was a large jump, so I'd be sure to keep Tracy away from that.
We went down the main hill, which was disappointingly slow and didn't provide the rush we were looking for. So, we ventured into the area's forest trails in search of some real kick-ass sledding.
The first hill we came to was a bumpy path surrounded by some trees and a bunch of high school guys. I wasn't sure my sled wouldn't direct me into a tree, or even a high schooler, but I laid back in it and let the slick snow glide me down. I bounced down, building up speed, and cold air pushed against my face. All of the sudden, a snowy mound shot me five feet into the air. I lost my sled and soared like a bird. By chance, I came down on my sled again and rode out the hill. The high schoolers cheered. "Woohoo! He landed the jump!" Tracy went down after me, and I'm happy to say she didn't get a concussion.
After that, my girl-protecting urges became of secondary importance to instincts of my own survival. Trees were all over the next hill, and the odds of getting a tree to the face at 25 mph seemed pretty good. So, I had Tracy go down first, to make sure it was safe for my face. Tracy braved the mountain all the way to the bottom, and, for this ride atleast, she didn't get a concussion.
The third path was the most treacherous of all. The forest was packed tight around a wicked, winding turn, and the hill sunk steeply to the clearing below. The hill had been named by the indians, "Head-thru-bark Mound." Tracy asked who should go first. I looked at the hill again. I didn't want to be the first to die. "OK, I'll go," said Tracy with a smile, and she positioned herself on the sled. It was becoming less and less of a mystery just how this girl had gotten so many concussions. She started down. I regretted not having asked her to tell me everything she'd learned in med-school about treating concussions, broken limbs, smushed faces, etc.
"Are you alive!?" I yelled, when she reached the bottom. I took my turn down the hill. As soon as I reached a nice speed, my sled turned suicidal and veered off the path. I flung myself from it and rolled through the snow, while my sled entered the forest and went under, over, and straight into trees. I retrieved my kamikaze sled and met Tracy at the bottom. I looked her over, and she was still smiling. Alright, I thought, the date was a concussion-less success.
Tracy's a bit of a traveller, so we talked about our favorite places in the world on our walk to the car. My favorite place is a nice warm Florida beach, Ft. DeSoto, where nothing dangerous can happen except a sunburn. Tracy, however, preferred a long fjord in Norway and an Austrian village in the Alps. She really liked cold and adventure, I could see, because she kept smiling all date. That was amazing, because the lips on my frozen face couldn't even move to grin. Wow, when she and Bill aren't fighting, Tracy's a cool, happy, brave girl.
On the ride home, Tracy switched subjects. "So, Psycho?" she said, "I heard you got suspended from high school for bringing tools to school and taking it apart." MODERN ODDYSEUS' DATING ADVICE # 16 - There's not a more fun or better topic of conversation, I
think, than childhood mischief. And, if your name's Psycho, you probably can tell some doozies.
"Yes, we used to bring screwdrivers and wrenches and plyers to school and take everything apart we could. Eventually, we bought an electric screwdriver to increase efficiency. We put a drill bit in it one day and drilled a hole in the back of a classroom.
Then, we started bringing four or five 2-litres of water to class each day to pour down the hole. After two weeks, our teacher heard complaints that the class below us kept having water dumped on their heads every day during our hour.
"And, then," I said, "some kids and I started using the classroom loudspeakers to make announcements during class. My specialty was singing songs. Once, I called a room and sang, in my best Barney voice, 'I love you, you love me, Mrs. Wright looks like Barney, 'cause she's big and chubby and ... '
"Another time, me and a friend of mine were walking in the halls between classes, when we decided to take opposite ends of a line of fishing string and walk different ways. We went around corners, up stairs, past offices. And chaos ensued. Kids were thrown up against the walls, teachers tripped, and a big ball of students got tied together in the middle of the hall. The whole school was five minutes late for class!"
Needless to say, with behavior like this, I didn't get many dates back then. But, Tracy seemed impressed. It was such a simpler time when I was known as Psycho. No one ever asked me what I planned to do after graduation, because everyone just assumed
I'd be in jail or dead by then. I'll tell you what I plan to do! I'll take my Creative Writing degree, tell a med-school student a "creative" story about high school mischief (utilizing my primary education sources - college and MODERN ODDYSEUS' DATING ADVICE - all at once!), and then ... Marry a doctor! That's what I'll do, I won't need to get a job.
Hopefully, Tracy will be single two years from now. That leaves only a short time for Bill and I to be friends. Because, once I'm his brother-in-law, it'll be the rabid wolverine vs. the screwdriver-wielding wrath ...
... of Psycho! (now, with a college degree)
P.S. Has MODERN ODDYSEUS' DATING ADVICE worked for you? Write me and share your success stories. And keep taking notes, young daters, there's ... more to come!