The first thing he saw was her eyes. Fall in love blue."Oh, my God," he remembers thinking, a college freshman let loose on a spring tennis trip to Virginia.
She was watching the guys from William and Mary. He was playing for GW, and was shy. He let her go by with the season.
Four years later, in the spring of 1970, he was playing tennis at 28th and O in Georgetown. And there, on the court right next to him: Blue eyes. This time, fate and his 22 years made him bold.
"I said to her," he remembers now, "'You're from Greenwich, Conn.'"
"Ahhhhhh sure ayemmmmm," she replied with all the Chattanooga charm she could toss up with her serve. It was plenty.
They had barbercues on her little patio in Georgetown, saw movies, played endless tennis. She was from Lookout Mountain, a Tennessee oasis of country clubs and pretty girls. Once she told him Robert E. Lee surrendered because he was a gentleman.
In Washington, she worked for Howard Baker. Much more important, she had a great backhand. Great legs, too.
He, the nice Jewish boy from Chicago, taught high school. One weekend, he took her to Rehoboth in his yellow Pontiac convertible. He remembers smoking a cigar going over the Bay Bridge. In sixth grade, he'd daydreamed of doing that, his arm around a pretty girl.
"I mean," he says now, "it was happening. You understand?"
Kent State and Cambodia were also happening and he, number 218 for the draft, recalls how sinister the outer world was. But that spring, in his orbit around the tennis courts, Georgetown sidewalks, and, most of all, the girl from Lookout Mountain, all was more luscious than the sweets they bought at Neems. "I don't think I've ever felt that high since," he says.
Not too long after, he drifted into the road trips of liberal politics; she got married to somebody else and moved to Vermont. Her husband's in plastics. As for him, he shopped around, taking up with this girl and that girl, but mostly, the political campaigns that make his blood flow.
Not so long ago, he saw an article in the paper about Jay Solomon, the former GSA chief. In the story, Solomon's son was talking about growing up Jewish in Chattanooga. "My dad just told me," said the son, "that there were lots more important things than Chattanooga country clubs and girls that lived on Lookout Mountain."
Reading it over, he circled the last part, and mailed it straight to Vermont. In the margin he scrawled: "I'm not so sure."