Between the time we started working together, March 13, and when we officially became a couple, May 27, 1989, there was a lot of friendship building. We not only worked closely together and shared rides home, but we also spent a lot of our free time together. We had differing break schedules, but we got into the habit of whoever was on break would show up and help the other with their work. Sometimes it meant helping with set-up, completing simple camp-maintenance jobs—like making trail markers, or doing some paperwork filing or other prep.
At least once a week, during my afternoon break, I would find Steve sitting on the bench-style window seat of the Dining Hall that used to look out over the lake. He would usually be prepping for the evening programs, but sometimes, he would be cutting out Chance tickets. These tickets were part of the camps “reward” system and behavior control. If you did something “good” you would get a ticket. At the end of the week, during the last campfire, you put your tickets into a lottery for candy and other small prizes. Every cabin leader and teacher got a stack of the tickets and then passed them out to the students as they saw good behavior. It was up to Steve and me to make copies and cut out the tickets.
I would go in and sit on the bench a few feet from him, grab scissors, and help him cut them out. It’s funny, but now that I think about it, why did he have an extra pair of scissors? There weren’t any stored there; he had to bring them with him. I guess he was hoping I would stop by to help. Wow, I just fell a little deeper in love with him!
As we would sit together doing tasks, we would talk. I remember vividly the time he asked me what college I attended. Although I was 21 at the time, my college experience consisted of one semester, when I completely flunk out! My now college students love that story and it is the reason why I know that even if you mess up you can still succeed in life. My answer to him was, “pffff! I didn’t go to college! I’m not smart enough for college!” His response to that was, “Anyone can go to college. You don’t have to be smart, you just need to show up and do the work.” That one simple comment changed my life forever.
These small conversations while cutting out Chance Tickets, brought us closer as friends. But the physical set up, on the bench is the real part of this story.
I would walk in and he would be sitting there on the bench, already working on his task. On the bench next to him would be a stack of the ticket photocopies, the extra scissor, rubber bands (for binding them into packets) and then a basket to put the bound ticket packets into. Then in front of him was a trashcan. I would walk up, grab the supplies and start helping.
Now, the trashcan is key here. When I would come in, the can would be right in front of him, sometimes so close that he would have it practically between his legs. The rest of the supplies would be spread across the bench so that I would end up sitting no closer than 4 or 5 feet to him. On occasion, when the can was too far from where I was sitting, I would say something, or just grab it and pull it closer to me. When he would finish cutting a strip off and needed to put it in the trash, he would inch the can closer to him. I remember this so clearly! I thought, “sheesh. Why does this guy think he owns the can?” But I would never say anything. Soon it would be so close to him that I would have to lean quite a distance forward to put my cuttings into it.
Now, you guys out there might already know what he was up to. But being that I was only 21, I didn’t have a clue! It wasn’t until several months later that I brought it up to him. I said something like, “When we were at the Crest cutting out Chance Tickets, you would always hog the trashcan! Your possession of the trashcan was so weird!” He responded, “You know, I was pulling it closer to me on purpose.” I wrinkled my nose and shook my head, giving him that why-the-heck-would-you-do-that look. He confessed, “Each time you leaned forward, I was catching a glance at your cleavage”.
What the heck?! For those of you who knew me back then, I was what one might call a pirate’s dream—I sunk-in chest (ba-dum-bump!) My cleavage wasn’t even deep enough to catch anyone’s glance. But Steve liked it. I was so flattered and felt so beautiful and desired. No one had ever made me feel like that before. I had actually had guys tell me, “your small chest doesn’t bother me.” But to have him instead say he was trying to see more. Wow! He didn’t just tell me I was sexy. He made me FEEL sexy.
I’ve heard a lot of wonderful comments about him lately, from a lot of different people. They all seem to be the same sort of thing. He didn’t tell you he thought you were nice, funny, a good friend. He made you FEEL it.
The world has lost a wonderful person.