Performer: Simon & Garfunkel
Songwriter: Paul Simon
Original Release: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme
Definitive Version: Simon & Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits, 1972.
I don’t remember how I discovered this song, but my guess would be through the Loop and Kevin Matthews in particular. All I know is it was a regular play while I rode the L to my internship at the YMCA national headquarters in the summer of 1987.
I had a lot going on during those rides. For a while, I renewed my English studies to the extent that I read new books going to and from downtown. The L from Howard was about an hourlong ride, so I had a lot of time for reading. I kept track of the books and knocked off A Brief History of Time, Heart of Darkness, a Thomas Hardy biography and The Woodlanders. The one that ended my reading jag was Moby Dick, which I since failed to complete a second time and have to restart soon if I’m going to finish it by the big 5-0 as is my goal.
Another thing I had going on were my thoughts, particularly of one woman I met at the YMCA—Sasha. I mentioned Sasha in passing more than two years ago. Sasha was 35, from Canada and a divorcee. To this 23-year-old, that was the perfect antidote to Beth.
When we advanced beyond being mere coworkers, I thought we had the makings of a mutually beneficial summer fling: I would take her experience and wisdom. In return, I’d supply my vigor and enthusiasm. Alas, it wasn’t to be. Sasha, as I mentioned, had a child. That didn’t bother me, but it bothered her, particularly after I met the boy.
She gave it a shot anyway, such was unstated acknowledgement that, yes, a tantalizing prospect. Sasha invited me out to the concert in the park series. She would pack a picnic basket, and we’d head to Grant Park to hear Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony—for free. Free? With you? Sounds good to me.
We took the L, and I met her and her boy, Samuel, at her place. He seemed like a good kid, and having been around my little brother, Matt, I was good with young kids. We got along fine, and he wrestled with me at the park as we lay on the blanket on a perfect Sunday July night as the music washed over us.
After we got home, Samuel went to bed, which meant Mommy and new friend could have some adult alone time. Adult alone time on the couch was going swimmingly until Samuel woke up crying over a bad dream.
That not only broke the mood but could well have snapped Sasha out of whatever reverie she had been in. I soon was heading home, but not before Sasha delivered the ARGH line of the summer: “I know it would feel good, but I still think you should leave.”
Say it with me: ARGHHHH!!!!
I suppose what happened next was inevitable, but two days later, as Sasha and I walked to the L, she said she didn’t want to see me any more outside of work. She thought she could do this, she said, but she had to think of Samuel, and it wasn’t fair to him for her to be with someone who wouldn’t be a candidate for a longer term relationship. I pleaded my case, saying, you never know, it might work out, but really she was right: Chances were good I wasn’t going to be around after I left Northwestern.
So I had that to think about on my L rides, too, as Art Garfunkel’s angelic voice singing Paul Simon’s words ripped my heart out on a semi-daily basis. No wonder I couldn’t get into Moby Dick.
I still was rebounding from Beth, and I needed some indication that things at least would be OK. Fortunately, I soon learned that Sasha wasn’t the only fish who swam in the YMCA sea.
It seemed the public relations staffer, also recently off a long-term relationship, had her eye on me, so when I casually suggested going to see the Pat Metheny Band at Ravinia a month later, Jessica pounced. The summer might not have worked out, but the fall was looking up.