Great Lovers--III--Tom Allen--2
After Christmas vacation Tom actually wrote Beverly a few times but he simply was not much of a writer and I assumed that the whole affair had more of less died a natural death. Of course, under normal circumstances, Tom could have used leave time to visit Beverly in Provo, but Tom’s circumstances were not normal. Apparently, he had somehow agreed that he would trade in his leave time for cash to pay off creditors, so effectively, at least, according to him, he had no leave time.
Somehow, and I don’t really remember how, I learned about something they have in the army called "Religious Retreat". This is a program whereby, if your chaplain approves, you can take up to three days off to attend a religious function of some kind. I was getting a little homesick for BYU, so I proposed to Tom that we apply for Religious Retreat" to attend General Conference. He was excited about it, since apparently his leave restriction did not apply to "Religious Retreat." Accordingly, I applied and the chaplain, who was glad to get rid of us, granted our request.
When I told Tom that our request had been granted, he became really excited. I was amazed. He didn’t seem the type to get all that excited about General Conference and since he had never been to BYU, he couldn’t be that excited about going there either. After a bit it became clear that the real reason for his excitement was that he saw it as an opportunity to date--i.e. wine and dine--Beverly for three whole days.
He wrote her immediately saying that he would be there and hoped that she would reserve the evenings for him. She wrote back responding that she would be happy to see him and that she would indeed reserve the evenings for him. Tom was ecstatic.
An integral part of his plan was to present her with the new, and greatly improved, i.e. much lighter, Tom. He had become convinced that one reason that her enthusiasm for their dating had seemed to diminish a bit toward the end of the Christmas vacation had been his bulk. He was, admittedly, a little hefty. The result was that he determined to lose as much weight as he possibly could in the six weeks or so of preparation for our trip.
He had read a book, or pamphlet describing what he called, "The Grapefruit Diet". The idea behind this diet was that, unlike other food, grapefruit did not add to the calories you took into your body, it somehow subtracted from them. In other words, if you ate enough grapefruit, the grapefruit would actually begin to melt fat away from your body. So when I would eat with Tom, usually the evening meals in the mess hall. He would have mostly grapefruit, in fact, fairly often nothing but grapefruit. Tom was able to do this because he had for some time cultivated a friendship with the cooks--formerly, so he could get extra helpings. But now that paid off in getting extra grapefruit--quite a lot of extra grapefruit. Grapefruit was always an option--not a very popular one, from my observations, for breakfast at the mess hall, but my guess is that after Tom began his grapefruit diet that the cooks had to triple or even quadruple their orders of grapefruit. It speaks well for Tom that they were willing to do it.
Of course, it wasn’t just grapefruit dieting. Tom was so sure that the new sleek, suave Tom would so enamor Beverly (in just three days) that provision needed to be made for a more permanent relationship and that would require money. That base was also to be covered--as always, with my help, i.e. me furnishing the capital. Tom’s scheme this time was to become a middleman for glass figurines made by the glass blowers of Juarez. Tom was sure that when the various shops in Provo saw some of these they would jump at the chance to market them and we would make a fortune. Since this seemed like a scheme with somewhat more possibility than Tom’s usual offering, I agreed to advance him $50 to buy samples in Juarez.
Finally, the big day came. We were off to Provo carrying a little luggage and a box of glass figurines. Tom was always telling me all the things he planned to do with Beverly (on the $50 I advanced him for that purpose--also to be repaid out of the profits from the glassware business). I pointed out to him that he needed to spend at least some time promoting his glassware scheme, to which he assured me that that was right at the top of his list of priorities.
I had a great time. I watched the conference sessions in the Wilkinson Center and spent the what free time that left me visiting old friends--especially girl friends, and getting applications for my master’s degree which I planned to begin work on in June when I got out of the army. I saw little of Tom. The one or two times I did run into him, he assured me that the glassware scheme was going great. All the merchants he had talked to were, he claimed, enormously excited about selling this stuff. In addition, things were going great with his courtship of Beverly.
On Sunday, after the final session of conference we headed back. The whole way back, Tom could talk of nothing but Beverly and how well everything had gone. He was busy figuring out what I, as the best man, should wear at the wedding. Where we should have the reception--at her home in Las Cruces or on the base. He was working out the details of the honeymoon and planning to check out married housing on the base. Fortunately, I was spared the details of his whole future happiness with Beverly by the fact that, having had almost no sleep in the previous three days, he fell asleep for the rest of the trip.
The next day at dinner it was back to the grapefruit regimen--apparently, Tom wanted to present Beverly when she came home in a month, with an even sleeker Tom than his already sleek self. Two days later, however, I was surprised to see Tom come to the table with two large steaks (something that only someone who had greatly ingratiated himself with the cooks could get away with), a large, separate plate of mashed potatoes and two deserts.
"What’s this?" I asked. "You temporarily abandoning the grapefruit diet?"
Rather than reply, he merely handed me a sheet of beautiful stationery containing a very neat hand-written note in purple ink.
The note was dated Sunday night and said: "Dear Tom, It is clear from the attention you have paid me the last three days that you are much more serious about our relationship that I am. I am sorry but I can only think of you as a good friend, so when I come home, I think it best that we not date, but that we can still see each other at Church and Church activities and be good friends. Your good friend, Beverly."
"Looks like we came on a little strong," I commented with a laugh handing him back the letter.
"You laugh," he muttered. "You can’t even imagine how hard getting this letter has been on me."
"Having gone through it several times, " I commented trying to be consoling, "I can tell you this--its a lot easier getting this kind of thing as a letter rather than going though it face to face."
"Well, you won’t think it quite so funny when you find out that I’m going to have to ask you for $50."
"$50!", I exclaimed. "What on earth for?"
"For the chocolates," he explained.
"The chocolates? I don’t understand," I protested and then it hit me. "OH no!" I exclaimed.
Our Elder’s quorum, as a fund raiser, was selling cheap boxes of chocolates for $3 each. I had agreed to sell 3 boxes, which I had taken to work and promptly sold to people at work. Tom, thinking of himself, as always, as the supersalesman, had agreed to sell 16 boxes of the chocolates.
"Don’t tell me you ate all those choclates!" I cried. "In one night?"
"I was depressed", he explained. "When I got that letter I decided that I am going to eat and eat until I get so fat that I can’t move. Then I am going up to Beverly and say, ‘See what you’ve done to me.’ She’ll feel terrible--but not as terrible as I feel."
"Yes, I’m sure that will certainly make her sorry that she dropped you all right. Very smart move. Besides," I added, "if you are so fat you can’t move, how are you going to go up to her?--in a wheel chair?"
"I haven’t worked out all the details," he went on whining. "All I know is that I will be so fat that she will be sorry she ever did this to me."
Well, when I left the Army in June, Tom could still move, but he did gain most of, if not all of, the weight he lost on his grapefruit diet. We more or less quit going to Las Cruces and he quickly consoled his great loss by dating girls in El Paso--as usual, at my expense.