Today is a very special day. Among many special days in February, Groundhog Day, Lincoln’s Birthday, Washington’s Birthday, Presidents’ Day, and Valentines Day, this is the most special of all to me. It is the last Wednesday in February, a very important anniversary. This is the anniversary of the night that Rex and Babs first met 28 years ago. A wonderful relationship has blossomed since and they (we) recently celebrated a 25th wedding anniversary with a trip to Argentina and Uruguay. The romance shows no signs of letting up and may be in for another 28 years or so. With that in mind, let me share with you, once again, the story of Rex and Babs.
Once upon a time very long ago (1985) in a land very far away (Minneapolis) there lived a young man named Rex and a young woman named Babs. This is the story of how they met and a 27 year long romance was begun from a chance meeting.
In 1985 Rex was employed as a pharmacy technician in the surgical pharmacy of a large hospital in Minneapolis. He spent his days preparing intravenous solutions in a sterile laminar flow hood, for use in the surgical suites of this hospital. He was paid every other Thursday and for the most part life was good.
Now on the day in question, the last Wednesday in February, Rex had gone home after work and was extremely bored. He was, as they say, too broke to pay attention and had stayed home every night for the last three or four nights. He was frankly sick of reading science fiction novels and listening to the radio. Not much on TV either.
He struck upon a solution. This particular Wednesday was 2 for 1 Old Style night at Williams Peanut Bar in Uptown Minneapolis. That is to say that you could actually purchase 2 Old Style Beers in cans for the lowly sum of $1. He put together every last penny he had (Tomorrow was payday after all.) and soon found himself on the Westbound Lake Street bus.
Rex got off the bus at the corner of Lake Street and Hennepin Avenue. He then walked the 1/2 block south to Williams (Not Williams Pub upstairs with its imported beer list and higher prices, but Williams Peanut Bar, downstairs.). He went around the corner of the building and headed down the stairs, entering the door on the side of the building at the bottom of the stairs.
Rex usually didn’t go to the Peanut Bar because it was frequented by a great many U of Minnesota students and being 34 years old felt like someone’s father or uncle or something. 2 for 1 Old Styles brought him in. When he reached the bottom of the stairs he looked around. The Peanut Bar was one of those large bars with a concrete floor that give away really salty peanuts for free, thus encouraging greater consumption of cheap beer. The shells from the peanuts were all over the floor, as management encouraged that means of disposal of the shells as well. Rex plopped himself on a stool at the corner of the bar, pulled out a dollar, and ordered an Old Style.
Now Rex was quietly minding his own business. Okay he was watching the crowd. Then these two young men in their early twenties came through the door. He watched them as they rounded the corner of the bar, walked the length of the bar and the room, and came back and occupied the two bar stools to his left. Rex was not much into conversing with the young men, but the one on the bar stool next to him was feeling conversational. He attested to the fact that he and his friend had tried their level best to meet and greet some young ladies and all to no effect. I believe the words he uttered were, “Women in this bar are stuck up man. None of them will even talk to you.”
At this point, it is necessary to note that the aforementioned Babs and her roommate Penny (Not to be confused with Sky King’s lovely niece Penny) were in this very bar. It seems the two of them had been to Happy Hour at Guadalaharry’s and had consumed many gold margaritas. Penny had a thing for one of the bartenders at The Peanut Bar and so a trip to said Peanut Bar was called for. The only problem was that Penny was engaged in flirting heavily with the bartender and Babs was getting bored and lonely.
Babs looked around and spotted Rex sitting at the end of the bar. She picked up her drink, walked over, and sat down on his right. The words that came out of her mouth were, “You look interesting. I think I’ll talk to you.” The young man on Rex’s left who had not two minutes earlier attested to the fact that women in this bar were stuck up was dumbstruck. His jaw dropped. He gaped in disbelief. He and his friend drank up and left.
Rex and Babs talked away the evening. They talked about everything under the sun and some things that are not. Then the witching hour arrived, Last Call. The lights came up and the bartender assured everyone that they did not have to go home, but they had to go somewhere else besides The Peanut Bar.
Now it was the time for decisions to be made and it should be noted that Babs had standards. “Don’t go sleeping with guys the first time you meet them.” Okay, understood. Now in addition, Babs had recently developed three concrete guidelines for boyfriends. 1) He must not live with his mother. 2) He had to have a job. 3) He had to have a car.
Rex met Babs’s first two guidelines with flying colors. 1) He had no family at all within 1000 miles. They all lived in Arkansas and Texas. He had an apartment. 2) He was a duly certified pharmacy technician and had a full-time job at a noted hospital. Then came the possible deal-breaker. 3) (He had to have a car. Remember how he got to the bar?) It seems that Rex actually had a car, but it was in the shop and that is why he had to take the bus to the bar. Now Babs was pretty excited about Rex having met all criteria so far, but then he said, “Can you give me a ride home? My car is in the shop.”
Oh dear. Babs went through some changes and permutations in her head and thought seriously about her criteria. Should she fudge them just a little? Was it possible he really did have a car and it was in the shop? She thought and thought and then offered the ride home. When they arrived at Rex’s place he tried desperately to get Babs into his little place and subsequently his bed, but she had nothing to do with that. She had standards after all. She’d just met this guy, albeit a cute and smart and kind of funny guy. She gave him her phone number. The question remained, “Will he use that number and call?”
Did he? Of course he did. Otherwise this would be a pretty sad story. Those two have been together ever since. Of course the story of how Babs came to his apartment, his two bedroom apartment, only to be met at the door by a woman claiming to be Rex’s roommate and nothing more than a roommate, well that’s a story for another day. Today is the last Wednesday in February and it’s 28 years later. Rex and Babs got an apartment together in June of 1985. Rex and Babs moved to Chicago together in December of 1985. Rex and Babs got married on Christmas Eve in 1986. They have since been around the world and visited every continent on the planet with the sole exception of Antarctica. They are still happily married and moving forward. This is a very special day, a day for a toast to chance meetings that turn into lasting relationships. Here’s to it.