Posted by Danny
I got a hunkering to hit Chapel Hill tonight. Although a N.C. State man, I have a warm spot in the heart for the Heels. Lisa went there, and I have some very fond memories of hanging out with the ADPis on Franklin Street.
Parking was easy since the college students are home. I nailed a spot right in front of Pepper’s Pizza. The smell of the crust waffled through the air – it hit me the minute I stepped out of the car.
I walked in with a spring in my step. The restaurant has been updated since I last visited. The cramped rectangular venue expanded. The red booths replaced with black. The percentage of wait staff with tattoos and piercings has decreased ten fold. But the pictures on the wall, the music and the menu remained the same. The italian sausage with onions and mushrooms tickled my throat as it did 20 years ago.
The girls and I settled in the booth, and I began to recount how I wooed their mother on these very sidewalks. I explained that I enrolled in a morning graduate class just so I’d have an excuse to drive to UNC each week to see her. We’d meet every Thursday morning for breakfast. I’d park at Cobb Dorm, and we’d walk over to Ye Olde Waffle Shoppe a couple of blocks away. I’d drink several cups of coffee and listen to her stories of life as a coed. We’d recount our past summer together at the Y and dream of the next.
On April 19, 1991, I arrived at Cobb at my usual 7:30. And there I sat – for thirty minutes. No Lisa. There were no cell phones at the time and the dorm was bolted shut – no fellas allowed.
I was stunned. I’d never been stood up before.
When I returned to work that morning, I announced to a mutual friend of ours: “I am not a toy. She’s messing with me. I ain’t putting up with it. I’m done!”
“Yesterday was her 21st birthday! Give her a break man!” That was no excuse to me and I really showed her – I cooled things down for a while.
I later found out that wasn’t really punishment for Lisa. She had agreed to go out with me, and I occasionally drove over on a weekend night to hang out. But apparently after I dropped her back off at her sorority house, she’d change clothes and head out to meet up with another guy. What was she thinking? Who in the heck could think about another guy after a night with me? And what was I thinking? Geez.
I guess I was blind with love. And as hard as I tried after that cool spring morning waiting for her on Country Club Road, I still couldn’t get her off of my mind.
Some things just don’t change.
The girls loved my stories. They laughed and asked questions and called me a dork, apparently the same feelings their mother had for me at the time.
“It’s amazing she married you dad.” They’re pretty intuitive. She was out of my league.
When the pizza arrived, I texted Lisa’s sorority sisters and let them know I was partying on Franklin Street without them. This time sans Jagermeister.
I guess if I had gone first, I would have wanted Lisa to keep my memory alive. Maybe these jaunts to our familiar places and some funny stories as accompaniment will do just that for her.