Friday, May 14, 2010

Great Lovers I have known--II-Gary Jensen

Great Lovers I have Known--II--Gary Jensen
Unlike most of my roommates, Gary Jensen was strikingly handsome--so much so, in fact, that frequently when girls first met him, their mouths would simply drop open in wonder, or admiration, or longing, or something like that. However, after they had actually talked with Gary for a couple of minutes, their mouths closed right back up--and usually pretty quickly, at that. Gary was a psychology major, and we all pretty much agreed that he chose that major so he could, hopefully, figure out why he was so different. But it didn’t seem to help much, or at least, in so far as we could observe. Of course, we all agreed that a great deal of the problem was that he was so good looking. He was not only good looking but he was tall and had a beautiful head of blond hair to boot. You can’t possibly have all those advantages and expect to be completely normal--and he wasn’t.
Of course, I will admit that sometimes Gary would show sense that somehow surprised you. Like the time, for example, that one of the roommates came home with a deck of cards--which he claimed to have picked up off the street--with normal face cards on one side and pictures of half-naked girls on the other. Gary took one look at one card and muttered with disgust. "You get mixed up with that stuff and you will lose your taste for real girls. My advice is stick with the real." Now he couldn’t have picked that up in psychology class.
He had no trouble at all getting dates and normally had no trouble getting a second or even a third date with a girl, but at that point they would start to balk. Admittedly, he did have girls who would gladly have dated him longer, but they were a bit strange themselves and he soon dropped them.
His troubles in dating greatly increased during the second semester he lived with us. He had started taking karate lessons. Pretty soon he began banging his fist--and sometimes, even a foot, into the walls and the doors. The idea, apparently, was to swing against the wall with the hand, or foot, going at incredible speeds and then, at the last fraction of a second, pull back so that he actually hit the wall with only a feather touch. Well, at first he wasn’t too good at it and he slammed into the walls and the doors pretty hard, although, I will say, he never actually went through them, which is more than I can say for Dan Tonks, about whom I will tell later. But after awhile, he got so he could go at the wall so fast that you were sure he was going to put his fist through the plasterboard, but pulled back at the last instant so he hardly touched the wall. The problem was that having pretty well mastered this trick, he could not resist trying it out on real people, including his dates. He, of course, tried it out on us, his roommates, first and I can assure you that after the first experience we kept ourselves at a considerable distance from him. It is a bit (and maybe even more than a bit) disconcerting to see a fist flying at you at a rate of at least 90 mile per hour and be sure that your sojourn on earth is over and then have the fist actually come to a halt at the point of your nose with only a slight flick. As I said, however, having once experienced it, none of us wanted to experience a repeat performance--afraid, no doubt, that Gary might become suddenly distracted as his fist careened toward our nose.
Being unable to practice on his roommates, Gary was naturally always looking around for other possibilities and who more possible than his dates? Having been on a couple of double dates with Gary and seen him in action, I was surprised that he never seemed to learn that having a fist fly at you at an incredible rate of speed is not a pleasant experience. The first time he would do it with a date, he would do it as a complete surprise and I can say that I have seldom seen anyone look so terrified. But I think Gary actually expected after he had proved that he could stop his fist just in time to deliver only a slight touch that the date would say something like, "Gee, that was neat! How did you do that?"
What they actually said on the occasions when I was present was, "Don’t you ever, ever, do that again."
But, of course, that never discouraged Gary. He seemed somehow certain that if he almost punched them in the face, or on the ear, but didn’t quite, that they would come to realize what a remarkable thing he had done. The result was, that while earlier, he could always get a second date--and usually a third or even a fourth--with a girl, he now almost never got even the second. I tried to tell him that I thought it had something to do with the repeated karate chops, but he only laughed. He was sure that if he delved deep enough into his psychology books, he would come to understand it all.
Well, Gary graduated and having done so and, consequently having joined the working class, i. e. those with money, he got himself a better apartment, but we continued to see him. The reason was that his boss had hired him to teach karate. The shop in which he did his stuff was just down from Knight-Mangum hall. At that time there was a sort of a strip mall of little stores where now there is the Campus Plaza parking lot and a service station. Of course, normally when we left the campus, we would go home down 4th east, but occasionally, when we wanted to see Gary, we would go down 6th and stop in at his karate studio. Most of the time it was no problem because there was almost never anyone there. His boss, believing that with a karate studio so close to campus he would get all kinds of business, was disappointed to learn that most students had neither the money or the time to invest in karate lessons. So after a few months, Gary announced that his boss was closing shop and that he, Gary, was moving to Salt Lake in search of better opportunities.
Well, I didn’t see Gary for several months and then one day I ran into him on campus. He was with Wayne Peterson, who had lived the previous year in our apartment complex, but not in our apartment. It turns out that the two of them had opened an electronics store and were doing extremely well. A couple of months later Gary Mathews and I were together on campus and we ran into Gary Jensen again. We asked him how dating was going and he announced that shortly after he and Wayne had launched their store, he had married a girl he had met in the singles ward.
I suspect taking pity on us--me for my "lean and hungry" look, and Gary who always managed to look hungry without being lean--he invited us to dinner at his place in Salt Lake, so we could meet his wife. Eagerly, we accepted.
Accordingly, about a week later we found ourselves at Gary Jensen’s home just off Redwood Road north of North Temple. It was a charming little home set in a large lot with very big trees both in his yard and the neighbors. Most surprising was the fact that his wife was not only very attractive, but remarkably charming. She had a personality that can best be described as infectiously merry. She had a delightful little laugh that she must have known was pleasing because she did it often. It was also clear that she was very much in love with and very proud of having married Gary.
I told Gary that I very much his admired his situation. He had a beautiful and delightful wife, and a very nice home. He responded with. "Well, of course, I agree about my wife, but as soon as I can afford it, we’re moving."
"But why?" I asked surprised. This is a nice home and the yard is delightful. It’s like living in a forest in the middle of the city."
"It’s the neighbors. They’re weird. The other day Sue (Gary’s wife) was in the backyard sun-bathing and my neighbor to the north climbed up into a tree to ogle her. He fell out of the tree and broke his arm. Serves him right the old coot."
Gary’s wife, who had been in the kitchen until the last comment protested, "I’m sure that that nice Mr. Smith was not ogling me. He was just up in his tree trimming the branches."
"You don’t use binoculars to trim branches," Gary retorted quickly and with some vehemence.
She laughed that delightful little laugh of hers and said softly, "I had forgotten about the binoculars."
At any rate I tell all this just in case you happen to be a little strange and have gotten a degree in psychology and it has not helped. There is still hope. All you have to do is get your black belt in karate, open a karate studio that fails, and then open up an electronics store and all will come out for the best in the long run, even if in fact, especially if, the psychology degree doesn’t do the trick.