Some call it unrequited love while others unfinished business and still others claim it’s about closure, I’m sure these three assertions are correct, but then I wonder. What we share so closely with another seldom fits so neatly in a pigeonhole. There is a sloppiness about life that makes its summation difficult, defies that final analysis so many authorities speak of as being so final. If life has taught me one thing it is that love may die but feelings remain. The attraction that brings us together can also tear us apart, as strange as that may seem. Yet, that final analysis never explains the attraction that remains. I think that what we see in others is what we can see in ourselves and this mirror of our desires becomes a talisman in our lives. We are drawn to it even if we disbelieve. So was the case on my friend Connor, so named not of the author, McCauley Conner, but for the baseball player and actor, Chuck Connors. True, no one names a child Connors, the plural is just not done. But his mother loved Chuck Connors, the actor. Of course if it weren’t for an injury, Mr Connors would have remained a baseball player of average standing. As an actor he had the broad shoulders and chiseled good looks that make a few women swoon. As an actor, his range was a bit limited. Chuck Connors and Academy Award were exclusive entities.
A boy named Connor would not have your average John or Bill or Tom’s life. We would sooner see a Connor as class valedictorian than someone named Harry. With this in mind, Connor pursed the nubile Dakota. Any woman named Dakota must be special as an ordinary Jane or Mary or Linda just won’t do. This need for uncommon given names seems to me to be superfluous, a waste of expectations on the part of those without such theatractical names. But all names have destinies and most certainly did Connor. And if that destiny is to go a little farther than the average is have a family name to match. Alas, Connor was doomed on that score since his family name was James. True, there was a sort of ring to it but nothing exciting or forceful. It was an ambivalent name and his personality seemed to grow into that mold. Connor was hesitant towards risk though when he did risk he tended to go all in. Often this risk resulted in loss. But rather than learn to moderate his behavior and build upon his successes he would lead with his heart and suffer the disappointments.
Connor had gotten through school and finally university, his successful classes outweighing those less than successful ones. And he found his niche in life after a couple of fitful starts writing copy for the marketing department in a medium sized advertising agency. And true to form, occasionally he has a successful idea but mostly failures. Perhaps his saving grace was that when his ideas were good, they were very good and made the agency a lot of money. If one were playing the percentages, on average, Connor was a winner. One of his winning ideas was used by the Navy for recruiting. One of his failures was for a Japanese electronics company: “From those wonderful people who gave you Pearl Harbor.” Even few baseball sluggers ever come close to a 400 bating average. This time, he had a really brilliant idea for the advertising campaign for a woman’s hand and body lotion. This would set an industry standard for hand and body lotions for some time to come. So to celebrate the brilliant idea a good number of the people who worked on that particular campaign headed to the usual club to party away in the glory of their supreme success and come in late the next morning.
Connor called to invite me to this display of Caesar accepting the laurel crown and the spot chosen was apt. It was the 52 Club, so named after that joke of a card game called 52 pickup. I am not against such places as this but I have little use of them. The idea that one may find true love in these meat markets is a bit far fetched, even by Hollywood standards. I’m a Bill, a John, a Tom, an ordinary solid everyday guy with a job as a consulting engineer. All very drab and boring for most people as a life goes, and I have a steady girlfriend whom I suppose I will marry in a couple of years, assuming we don’t fall out. But loyalty compels and I have know connor through these many years. Besides, I am happy that he has had a great success for he has a habit of wallowing in his failures and when he does he makes for rather morose company. So when I arrive and give my name, for it is “invitation only” that this place exists and makes it appear exclusive as does the “entry fee”, the party is underway. Connor is holding court as he is a very funny man at times like these, particularly when he has been hoisting a few rounds. He might have made a good stand up comedian if he had the right temperament. Of course the women here are all very pretty, plain and ugly need not apply. their reason for attendance is simple, about a quarter of the men who pay the dues have six figure incomes.
I have always been amazed by the first names oby which so many of these women have been christen. There are no Janes, no Marys, no Bettys. There are Jasmines, Veronicas, Martinas, Elkies, and the occasional Svetlana. And yes, tonight there is a Dakota. A femme fatal in training. So far I have been “felt up” by five women and one man. As I said, I really don’t enjoy these places. the music is too loud and too modern, the ambient noise level makes shouting normal conversation, and the booze makes inhibitions drop like lead balloons. I suppose I would be enjoying myself more if I were in the market of bringing home a filet mignon for the evening. So by the time that midnight is approaching I am ready to head out the door and crawl into my own bed, alone. I have to work tomorrow on a large building project. But I notice that Connor has grown a little quiet. A raven haired woman has his attention and the two of them are engaged in intimate discussion, comparing the differences between the male and female iguana, perhaps. I siddle and wrythe my way over to Connor to wish him well on his big project and thank him for the evening. “Matt, meet Dakota! She is an amazing woman! (Hell, here everyone is amazing, even me.) She’s a stage actress in the theater over on Market. I can’t believe we have so much in common. (I’ll be polite and not say what I’m thinking.) Hey, call me tomorrow, maybe we can get together for lunch.” “Okay connon, I will. Nice to meet you, Dakota.” She nods to me in a non committal way, I have been acknowledged and may now move away.
Their courtship was not overly quick, I think it took about three months for them to get around to tying the knot. I was there at the wedding, a lavish but spartan affair. By that I mean the accoutrements were lavish but the guests were sparse. The few, the proud, the single. Not one married couple was invited. Then off to the Bahamas for a week or two. During the couple’s courtship I was made aware of the extent of Dakota’s personality and career prospects. She was a stunning looking woman, about five eight or nine to connor’s five ten. In heels she always looked taller. I had never seen her in a conservative outfit, almost every thing she wore was either arty or provocative, even to “grubby” wear. Dakota was an aspiring actress of sorts and the best that she could manage was as understudy for a few supporting character roles in mediocre plays. She was also ten years younger that Connor, something that delighted him and like a fools, made mention too often. The both tried too hard. She wanted the fame of being an actress almost desperately and didn’t seem to understand that few are gifted with enough natural talent to walk into instant stardom. She was pretty, she had that slender body most men adore and most women hate. But her personality had not the maturity to make success by habit, by regular hard work and by determination. In many ways she was like Connor. Initially hesitant to risk but once she made her decision she was all in. Frankly, I was of the opinion, unsupported as that was. that she was tired of hustling to pay the rent and that this marriage was for convenience, not true love. Connor’s part was not too far off that mark. I knew he was tired of living alone and his past failures with women weighed heavily in his decision to marry an all too willing partner. They were fools on the same ship. I kept my feeling to myself but I gave them a year, two as a generous outset.
They surprised me, for they kept the marriage going for nearly three years before it sunk on the rocks of disharmony. During this period the economic conditions for my work had changed and I was compelled to spend more time working on consulting work in other states and even a few foreign countries. the original company I worked for had been acquired and then that one was acquired until I was working for a large consulting concern. My old apartment felt more like a hotel room during a vacation. Of course my romance had suffered to the point of extinction. But I had kept in touch with Connor, his wife tended to avoid me, and a few of his old friends. It was through them I heard of the arguments, sometimes violent, but usually no decision. Connor had complained that he had no good ideas, the well was dry and he might lose his job. Dakota complained that getting acting parts, even walk ons was getting harder. Both were unhappy in their careers and in their marriage. So they parted, not on the harshest of terms but not exactly friends, either. For as much as they had grown out of love, they had also grown up. Connor did lose his position at the ad agency while Dakota managed to finally obtain a character roll in a decent play that would run two years. I think that gave her the confidence in herself and life in general. She even helped Connor get back on his feet. This time Connor took his first measured risk. I heard he had studied and planned the opportunity to open his own agency, he specialized in theatrical advertising. It was no longer a hit or miss employment of his talent, he had learned to value patience and planning. True to form, some of his advertising attempts were very strong, very well received, but he has far fewer failures.
Meanwhile, I had tired of living out of a suitcase and came back to start my own business. I was a professional engineer now, complete with seal. So I started selling my services to remodeling contractors, small businesses, apartment and home owners. It’s not a six figured salary but I have enough. And I have a good relationship, we shall be married in June. Yesterday I received an invitation from Dakota. Just out of the blue and complete unexpected. I was invited to the premier opening of a new play in the best theater in the city. So I went with Mary, my intended, to the reception after the play. I must say that Dakota had put on a very good performance, she being the lead. I think both the script and the director made a great difference in opening her formally hidden talents to the public. But back stage where the celebrations were happening I was stunned to find Connor standing very close to Dakota and she smiling at him, introducing him to the cast members, the director, and the playwright. They had become friends, close friends. I pulled him aside for a minute and had to ask if they were back together, perhaps about to be married. Connor looked at me for a few seconds. “No, we aren’t stupid. We can’t go back to that state again. We have learned the value of our friendship and living together would just get in the way.” I was stunned.