Tuesday, March 4, 2014

No. 93 – The Dam at Otter Creek

Performer: Live
Songwriters: Ed Kowalcyzk, Chad Taylor, Patrick Dahlheimer, Chad Gracey
Original Release: Throwing Copper
Year: 1994
Definitive Version: None.

Lightning CAN strike twice. Take my word for it.

As I wrote a long time ago (good ol’ No. 652), just as I was heading out the door from the Daily Herald to Flint in 1989, what I thought was an innocent friendship revealed itself to be possibly more … if only I hadn’t been leaving. It made me regret my departure, and I promised myself I’d never put myself in such a position where that might happen again.

After I was turned down for a spot on the news copy desk at The Columbus Dispatch in April 1994, I put off my job hunt—my desperate attempt to flee Flint—and turned my attention to softball. When Dave asked me to rejoin the coed team and I immediately replied that I would, suddenly my social calendar was full. I’d made it through the winter, and there were worse things than spending another summer in Flint.

It didn’t hurt that after what seemed an eternity, a potential romantic interest emerged, too. Tanner was a new metro reporter and joined the coed softball team. I didn’t know this when I accepted Dave’s offer to play again, but I found out at the first practice. In fact, we had a lot of new faces on the team—there had been some turnover, particularly in the past year.

Afterward, the team went to Luigi’s for dinner. Luigi’s had become the typical post-softball practice hangout when we were at Central High, so we kept it, even though we moved to a different school, the name of which I’ve long since forgotten.

As good fortune had it, Tanner sat across the table from me. I noticed her right away: redhead, nice looking, definitely in my wheelhouse, as they say. I struck up a conversation, and although it started laboriously given that we just met, before long she seemed to be engaging more in the conversation.

We had some common interests in music. It also seemed she was checking me out a bit, too. OK, good start. Maybe there are A LOT worse things than spending another summer in Flint. I looked forward to the next practice.

However, in between the two practices—and I mean literally in less than a week—I got a call from the Business editor at The Dispatch about an unknown opening in that department, drove to Columbus for the interview and got a job offer. In fact, I got the offer the day of the next practice. Naturally, I had a lot on my plate at Luigi’s that night beyond the shrimp alfredo that was a Luigi’s staple.

Tanner and I engaged almost immediately, and this time she seemed as keen to engage me as I had been to engage her before. In fact, at the end of the evening, as the crew broke up, she said she was going to stay and play a little pool. Did I want to join her?

Pow. I couldn’t believe it. I’d been in Flint for nearly five years, and as soon as I had one foot moving toward the the door, this happens … again. Of course, I wanted to stay, but I made a promise to myself. Time to nip this right in the bud. I declined without a reason.

In the parking lot, I told Doug I wanted to come over to his place for an after party to discuss something of import. When we sat down in his living room, he asked whether this had to do with the j … o … b … It did. We talked, and from the discussion, I decided that I should take The Dispatch offer despite my misgivings.

I turned in my two-week notice the next day and played my final softball games the next week. Tanner and I never spoke together again—our moment having passed. When I left, I had no regrets. Those would come later.

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