Friday, April 19, 2013
My Friend Charlie
The Spanish missal brought us together. At Hood College, I had had the good fortune to meet a wonderful Spanish professor, Meca Betances from the Dominican Republic who became my friend.
She presented me with a Catholic missal completely in Spanish so that I might continue to practice this second language when in church. Meca joyfully left in my Junior year because of a totally unexpected and 14 years overdue pregnancy.
I continued to use the missal. At this time, I wore a mantilla to mass and with pierced ears and the Spanish prayer book, I believed myself to be the picture of a mysterious Senorita.
One Sunday in my Senior year, I was approached after the service by a classmate. She told me that her date and a friend from Georgetown had gone to mass at St. John's. The friend had seen my missal and wanted to meet me. His father had had business in Chile. He had visited there and was intrigued with things Spanish.
I was flattered and, in due time, we met and dated. He had blue eyes and blond hair and was the well-to-do son of a White Russian mother and an Austrian businessman father. In personality, he was a combination of European culture, arrogance and charm and Larchmont (American) Joe college enthusiasm.
He kept saying off and on during our dating: "You must meet my roommate. You'd like my roommate."
I thought: "Sure! I've heard that kind of thing before. We'd hate each other."
Somewhere down the line, I met Charlie who in those undergraduate days was known as Chuck. It was friendship at first sight. Shorter than Carl and not so handsome, dark haired and dark eyed, quick with witty remarks, a reader and English major with teaching in mind, he was so engaging that we began to correspond.
We had so much in common. He wrote great, long letters. Months later after I had graduated, when Carl and I went our separate ways. (He had discovered the daughter of the Philippine Ambassador), Charlie and I still were friends.
Charlie and Carl graduated from Georgetown the following June and I attended the ceremony and went to dinner with Charlie, his parents and his fiancée, Ann. It was that kind of friendship.
Charlie was to be best man at Carl's wedding a month later and had gone to Larchmont, Carl's home. He was swimming at the Club on the river and dove off the board into unmarked low tide. He broke his neck.
(That's mom and Carl, far left, with Charlie and Ann next to them. Perhaps this is unfinished, but she doesn't mention that Charlie went on to live a full life, was an editor at Rodale Press and became my godfather, but was confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. - SFS)