Weekly Column

One I said; four she said

—nothing's changed

by William Gibson White



            Forty-one years ago today (1977).

            It took me over two years to adjust after my divorce, but now I felt good about being single. I learned I could be alone but not lonely. Writing put me in a world where there was no loneliness.

            Yet I continued to peruse the Parents Without Partners (PWP) events calendar. A wine and cheese was being hosted by a name that looked familiar. Was this my old happily married Scientology instructor, Joe Belotti?

            On my road to enlightenment, I became a L. Ron Hubbard certified auditor of Dianetics before Hubbard changed the name to Scientology and made it a religion where the real tax-free money was. That wasn't for me, but Hubbard's methods, using an electronic E-meter (more or less a lie detector), in getting to a patient's problems was far superior than what I had learned with a psychology degree from HSTC at Arkadelphia. But I was just curious about Joe.

            Since it was George Washington's Birthday, I had a choice as a union printer at The Washington Post. Work for double pay or take the night off and still get paid. So, I decided to attend. The host was my teacher. I asked about his wife. He said she had died from a brain tumor during a Scientology auditing session. Damn! She was the second victim I had known personally of L. Ron Hubbard's anti-medical philosophy. My friend Howard Miller, an epileptic, was the first.

            I said, "I'm sorry."

            "Thanks. But I do have two lovely young daughters."

            While we continued talking others came in. Then I heard a most delightful laugh, and there was Barbara! And she had a beautiful smile.

            At PWP wine and cheese events, the hosts came up with something to "break the ice." My old instructor decided—naturally—on a Scientology exercise.

            Somehow, I got paired up with Barbara doing a Scientology "process." It was a set of questions that if asked often enough would bring enlightenment to the subject. That is—maybe—after a century or two. Didn't work on a hard case like me.

            Because I had been trained to do this some 17 years before, I insisted we do it my way—start at step one. But Barbara was determined to do it her way, so we started at step four.

            On our first date she wanted to go to the Smithsonian. Since I drove into Washington, D.C., five nights a week to cover my job, I didn't. We went to the Smithsonian.

            It had to be her DNA—from immigrant parents—mother British, father Danish. After all, these two races discovered and conquered most of the world. I kind of liked that. My maternal grandfather was British, my paternal grandfather was a mystery—so I made him a convict from Australia.

            Our second date could have ended in a disaster, and it would have been my fault. But I wanted to show off my all-time favorite toy—other than a motorcycle—my sailing canoe.

            Usually, around Washington's Birthday, the weather in Northern Virginia was about 20 degrees with a foot of snow. Yet, this year it had reached 80 degrees each day for a week. All parks where I frequently sailed were closed.

            But I found one on a finger of the Chesapeake Bay that was open all year. Because of the unstable weather, the wind was up and there were small whitecaps on the water. When we got underway, it was great sailing, yet Barbara was being sprayed by forty-degree water with every wave. She just laughed and said, "This is great fun!"

            But I worried about swamping the boat and hypothermia, so I cut it short and we headed back to land.

            After I explained the danger, Barbara said, "I wasn't worried."

            I almost said that's because you don't know any better! But I kind of liked her, so I kept my mouth shut. When I discovered she had brought along a picnic lunch with cheesecake, I knew she was my kind of gal.

            Only one thing wrong—she was a Republican.

            Still, when I say we start at one, we start at four. It's been fun.


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