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Rivals Duel by Long Distance

Ann—from A Rendezvous to Remember, Ch02: Hungry Lions, Circling, Boulder, Colorado, 1964:

This birthday gift tale still has me tied in knots: “As my April 19 birthday neared, Terry let slip he’d gotten me Turnbull’s The Letters of F. Scott Fitzgerald, a must-read. Plus he’d made reservations in Denver on Sunday—my birthday—for dinner and Becket, the hot new Richard Burton-Peter O’Toole movie. He asked me to ‘dress up a bit.’ Dress up? Us? ‘My goodness, is this a date? A real date?’ I asked. ‘I got a corsage,’ he whispered, as if he feared I’d discover he was a romantic after all.

Not to be outdone . . .

“Late Thursday afternoon, April 16, I trudged into the dorm after a long stint in the library. A symphony of fragrances perfumed the lobby. Julie rushed up: “‘My God, Ann, what have you done? Promise that German guy the first three days in bed?’”

“What now? Julie’s mouth could be as smutty as her weekend trysts. ‘Maybe later, huh?’”

“She marched me to the reception desk. ‘Look at these flowers. It’s the flashiest let’s-get-it-on offer I’ve ever seen. I’d go down with a guy for a week if he sent me that.’ She pointed to a huge bouquet of spring flowers in a vase as stunning as a museum piece. The envelope read, To my dearest Ann. From Jack. Wow, they were for me. No, not possible. Not from Germany.

“‘So open the card,’ Julie said. ‘How’d he send those from Europe anyway?’”

I hit Julie with the Stink-Eye

With an internal glow of pure gemstone, the vase captured the moment, and so much more.

“This had to be a joke: a gang of girls in the dorm. I hit Julie with the stink eye, but she didn’t notice; she was ripping open the envelope. I snatched it away, pulled out the card. I started to read aloud, but my voice choked off. ‘I’ve got to go’ I closeted myself in my room. I had that card memorized by dinnertime. I’m not a crier, but tears fell:

    • My dearest Ann: The vase in which these flowers arrived (unless the florist in Boulder double-crossed me) is the only one of its kind in the world. I had it designed, hand-blown and hand-cut especially for you by a master German artisan. I hope you like it . . . because I also had him create two matching bowls, which should not be separated from the vase. So should I not be successful in my quest, you already know what your wedding present will be.  –All my love, Jack

“The vase was sapphire blue, with an internal glow of pure gemstone, gleaming crystal intercut with diaphanous teardrop, oval, and serpentine curves. My girlfriends looked on with envy—thinking, wow, TWO guys! For me, this birthday gift tale was excruciating. Each guy had a big hook embedded in my heart, and they were pulling in opposite directions.”

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