The Blind Date
It was on a Saturday in late September when the farmers around Weeder's Clump began thinking about harvesting their crops. Cletes Greenfield and his son Clay were having a quick lunch at Mom's Family Restaurant. Both were having the cheese pudding special when young Clay asked his father, “How did you and Mom meet?”
“Why do you ask?” Cletes replied. He was always delighted when his children asked him about his life. Cletes considered himself a good storyteller even though he had not majored in English at Heliotrope University.
“Mrs. Penn, my AP English teacher, thought it would be a good writing assignment to find out how our parents met. She has a special interest in trying to understand how human beings connect with each other, and her class has got me thinking about several important matters. I think she is the best teacher I have had so far,” Clay explained. “Do we have time for me to order another cheese pudding?
“I believe we do; in fact, I was thinking of doing the same thing.”
Cletes Greenfield looked admiringly at his oldest son. He was very pleased with the lad, who was of late showing some real signs of leadership. “Your mother and I actually met on a blind date. I had noticed her since early in September. To be honest, it was more than that. I was captivated by her dancing eyes and bright smile, but I didn't know her name. I thought that surely a wonderful girl like that would have a steady main squeeze or had set her expectations so high that I couldn't possibly measure up. To put it succinctly, I convinced myself that she was too far above me, and I could only worship her from afar and dream about her.
“Then the Saturday after our big game with New Madrid Fault State University, Max Doubt was taking his girl to the movies and asked me if I would go along on a double date. I agreed and, wonders amazed, my date was the very girl I had admired so much, the girl who would later become your mother. We went to see a John Wayne movie about World War II.
In the movie, The Colonel Has to Know, John Wayne was an officer on the front lines in Germany during the last days of the war. The German soldiers were making a last ditch effort to turn the tide in their favor, but they knew it was almost over.
John Wayne told his men to be alert because German soldiers would try to infiltrate the American lines. He called his sentries to the command post and told them the password was 'Thermopylae.' “If they say 'The Chicago Cubs,' you had better shoot first and ask questions later.”
Then John Wayne retreated to his own tent and began to clean his six-guns, drink Wild Turkey liquor, and sing 'I'm a Poor Lonesome Cowboy.' That song made his think of his girl back home, who was played by Jane Fonda. He thought of Jane's brilliant intellect, her ability to spot logical fallacies in political agruments, and her delicious cheese pudding.
The soldier who had drawn the midnight to three sentry duty was played by Walter Brennan. Walter was a bit too old for an ordinary infantry soldier, and he walked with a pronounced limp. He had lied about his age, claiming he was actually afflicted with premature aging. How Walter managed to pass the physical is a mystery that defies explanation. Be that as it may, Walter was on sentry duty about to doze off when he heard a noise in the forest and shouted, “Halt! Who goes there?”
A voice called out from the shadows, “Ve are just some happy-go-lucky Yanks from Vyoming. Ve hert zat Bob Hope vas coming to entertain ze troops, and ve didn't vant to miss ze pulchritudinous nubile beauties zat he alvays bring viz him.”
Walter Brennan knew about Bob Hope's visit and was looking forward to it, so it would only seem logical that happy-go-lucky Yanks from Vyoming would want to attend the event. But something made Walter a bit suspicious, and he yelled. “Okay, sounds good to me, but what's the password?”
“Hals-und Beinbruch, Yank!” was the answer, and a grenade sailed over Walter's head and exploded just the other side of John Wayne's tent.
John Wayne had been drinking all night, fantasizing about Jane Fonda's cheese pudding, and singing cowboy songs at the top of his voice. He emerged from the tattered remains of his tent, waving both six-guns in the air and firing at the new moon, shouting, “We're gonna take that hill!” Then he passed out drunk but uninjured on the ground.
The German sergeant, played by Gustav Diesel, rushed up, looked down at the fallen John Wayne, called to his men, and said, “Vell, ve finally got zat obnoxious John Vayne.”
Although Walter Brennan had forgotten his rifle and left it in his tent, he knew the situation called for heroic action. Bravely, with no thought for his own safety, he hopped and skipped and limped up to the Gustav Diesel, pointed a finger at him, and said, “Surrender! Your position is hopeless.”
“Do you mean zat Bob Hope didn't come?” Gustav Diesel said, not to be tricked and fall for such a dumb cliché.
“No, I mean if you don't surrender immediately, I will summon Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum, Kirk Dougas, Burt Lancaster, Charlton Heston, James Stewart, Humphrey Bogart, Richard Widmark, Ronald Reagan, Henry Fonda, and Glen Ford, not to mention Clint Eastwood..”
“Clint Eastwood?” Gustav Diesel asked incredulously.
“I told you not to mention Clint Eastwood. Now cut out the tomfoolery and throw down your weapons.”
Gustav Diesel was crestfallen. He said to his men, “Zere are too many of zem. Do as he says. Maybe ve can still see Bob Hope if he comes.”
“That movie date was the beginning of our love,” Cletes said to his son.
“Did Mom have a good time?” Clay asked.
Cletes smiled broadly and replied, “Yes, she certainly did. She slept through the entire movie.”