Published 12:00 am Monday, August 6, 2007

Robert’s father didn’t like me. He forbade his son to talk to me. Therefore, dating was definitely out of the question. We had never met, but somehow he knew that, at 17, I had been married and was separated.
The year was 1961. Things were very different then. He had tried and sentenced me without hearing my defense plea ó a classic “judging of a book by its cover” case, I felt.
I liked Robert and he liked me and we weren’t giving up on each other.
One night, Robert borrowed his dad’s car and secretly took me to a drive-in movie. We were enjoying popcorn and sodas when suddenly the car began shaking. Doors opened and Robert’s dad grabbed our refreshments, threw them on the ground, and ordered us out of the car. As we left, somewhat shaken, we decided to fight back by requesting a hearing to argue my unfair conviction. After much pleading by Robert, I was finally allowed in their home to face my “judge.” I confessed to falling for someone four years my senior, confusing young hormonal feelings with real love, marrying against my parents’ wishes and moving back home after coming to my senses just six weeks into the marriage.
GUILTY as charged!
I was young. I made a mistake. I was trying to put it behind me while waiting the required time (two years then) to file for divorce. After numerous talks and lectures, the judge decided he liked me after all and Robert and I began dating.
We soon became steady dates. I respected and admired Robert, especially when he surprised me with a beautiful friendship ring. It had two hearts with small chip diamonds around them. I was thrilled.
By now I had graduated from high school and was employed at the hospital as secretary to the personnel director. Once on a very busy day, after missing the cafeteria lunch hours, I went to the Hospitality Shop for a quick sandwich. The shop catered to patient visitors as well as hospital employees, but had limited seating. I managed to find a small table and had just begun eating when a girl asked if I would share my space with her.
Soon, I learned her name was Pat and that she was visiting her seriously ill mother. She was attractive, polite and about my age. While enjoying our conversation, I noticed she was wearing a beautiful ring. It was a friendship ring with two hearts and small diamonds.
It was identical to mine. Wow! We were amazed. Eventually, in addition to the rings, we discovered that we also had the SAME BOYFRIEND!
We exchanged phone numbers, had many secret conversations and planned a surprise visit to the home of the cheater. You might imagine the look on his face when he opened the door and saw both of us standing there.
Many apologies and remorseful tears later, I forgave him and we renewed our friendship ó even up to an engagement ring. But the damage was done, the spark had fizzled and we went our separate ways. Robert and his family moved to another town and life went on.
Several years later, I learned that Robert’s father, the “judge” I had learned to admire and respect, had cheated on his wife and divorced her.
In today’s world, we are encouraged to “think outside the box.” I say don’t judge a book until you’ve read what’s inside. You may discover that the book doesn’t contain what you thought it did after all. What say you?