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Monday, February 10, 2014

Bernie’s sock


I dated infrequently after I divorced. My life was two children to raise and a house to pay for. My girls were teenagers before I felt on solid ground, earned enough money to look over my shoulder and not see something gaining. I did become involved with photography, bought a pretty little Minolta when I could afford it, mastered f-stops and exposure, composition, the basics.

I didn't meet Bernie, Bernie met me. The Cleveland Art Museum had a show of photography; I was inspecting a lot of fine work, making notes in a little spiral notebook. There was a constant presence off my left shoulder. When I finally turned to confront it, a man put out his hand. “Hello. I’m Bernie Andersen.”

Bernie was a sturdy man, not much taller than I, back when I was several inches taller. He had a well trimmed beard and mustache, dark hair going salt and pepper, and a flattened nose I never did like. It was toward the end of a rather long exhibition, and later I wondered if Bernie had hung out at the museum for a long time, hoping.

Bernie had a life, too, but he didn't know it. He had a house, three lovely children and an ex-spouse. His oldest son was a naval officer, youngest daughter an anthropology student at Cornell and his middle son a delightful ne’er-do-well bunking with his dad when I met Bernie. Bernie’s children had old Norwegian names, and when I met him, the middle son fancied himself “Eric,” not whatever he was named.

Bernie cooked every meal we ate in, which should have made him a keeper. He started preparation in the morning, and dinner might be presented at eight. What pan, what knife, what seasoning, what plates……………Argh! On the other hand, the men I worked with liked him; Bernie was an engineer, too, and I always knew what knot of people to find him in when it was time to leave the party.

Photography was one common interest, outdoors another. We took several short trips together. I drove, Bernie plotted the route. We were lost for an entire day on a short trail on White Rag Mountain in the Shenandoah’s. Well, the map was twenty years old, from when his children were young.

One summer Bernie suggested we take a week and visit some petroglyphs at a park in Canada. We drove north. “Not much further,” from the man with the map. Eight bone weary hours later I pulled into the parking lot of a rustic resort. We were seated by the fire. Elbows propped on the linen, eyes drooping, I tried to take in the quaintness. Did I hear that? “This is where Catherine (I made that up; I don’t remember her name) and I honeymooned.”

No idea where we stayed that night. We were back on the road south at first light. Not one word was exchanged. Even when I was pulled over, no word from the passenger seat as I went back to the cruiser and got my lecture and ticket.


Some years later Jan and I were unpacking our fledgling weaving business in our new studio, and chatting with a weaving friend. Marilyn had an interesting threading on her loom, but didn't want to waste “good” thread on it. An unfinished sock fell into my hand, and I tossed it over. “Here’s a sock I never finished for Bernie.”


Bernie's Sock

34 comments:

  1. That's sad. I hope some good came out of the relationship. Did it help prepare you to be with someone else and to know what you wanted and didn't want?

    Love,
    Janie

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  2. Well I hope "Bernie" learned his lesson.

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  3. Well, Bernie's sock made a lovely wall hanging.... I always figure things work out the way they're supposed to, so while you don't know what "could" have been, you know what is, and that's pretty darn good.

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  4. Sometimes good just isn't good enough.

    But, my goodness, you know how to tell a story, Joanne!

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  5. Do you know what happened to sockless Bernie? Probably not.

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    1. In fact, a friend saw him once, with a person we could only assume was "Catherine." As he only wanted his old life back, probably the best outcome for him.

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  6. How sad - for Bernie. I don't know about you I can't imagine wanting my 'old life back'. Fresh fields for me every time.
    And jenny_o is right (again). You do tell a wonderful tale.

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  7. Poor Bernie maybe he never got over what's her name or was he just tackless.
    Merle.............

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  8. Did he die from foot in mouth disease?
    Jane x

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  9. Wow that was a major error on the field by Bernie. Funny but I'm sure it was not then.

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  10. A man that cooks every meal sounds divine except for his "little" slip of the tongue. I think I would have done the same thing you did.

    betty

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  11. I love your story...and you're photos.

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  12. You know how one hears stories and play's out them in their head, seeing it through their own experiences? Well, here's my interp. of Bernie......
    Dating you was a new step for him, who knows how he choose you....anyway in attempting this new adventure, relationship he wanted to plan something, be involved. He knew a place he liked, an area, and with typical male thinking assumed because he liked it you would too. You get there, propped before the fire. Did you have drinks in hand, did he? Perhaps, lost in the memory of the place, and a glass of wine behind him, he said what was on his mind.
    People do dumb things, perhaps one is what Bernie did......assume because something, for whatever reason, make them feel good or comforted, it will be the same for others. The logic of it, that it was something that someone else might not feel the same about, doesn't seem to apply. We all like to think that what makes us feel good will do the same for others.

    Or....I'm rationalizing this guy's behaviour.

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  13. I had a couple of boyfriends like that years ago, when they started comparing me to their old girlfriends it was time to go for sure.

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  14. Oh ouch! What a shame. Bernie was still living in the past without much of a clue.

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  15. It would make a good name for a tune that - I can somehow envisage Gerry Mulligan playing it.

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  16. Well it was romance, but not as we know it...

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  17. Hari OM
    Best place for that memory (or him). Hanging on the wall. Made a brilliant post though!! YAM xx

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  18. Baggage....some people never learn to leave it on the side of the road and not look back.

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  19. My goodness, how bad is it when they are not even a "for now".

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  20. Oh dear. What was he thinking? I suppose he was not thinking of you at all. A shame.

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  21. Sad...one really poor judgment changed it all. Did he never know.

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  22. He took you to his honeymoon place????
    I wouldn't have waited for first light, I'd have left immediately and probably without him.

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  23. Sad to hear about the judgement. We need to be careful all the time.

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  24. A beautiful piece of weaving came from Bernie's unfinished sock.
    Joanne you pull me right into your world with your stories x

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  25. An interesting post.

    Thank you. Love love, Andrew. Bye.

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  26. So much I could say about Bernie but I will hold my fingers -- you write your story so well -- barbara

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  27. Dear Joanne, the world turns on such simple sentences, doesn't it? And we never know when they may be uttered, by ourselves or someone else. In a moment life shifts and hopefully we go on and enter a new part of the journey. Peace.

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  28. Well - sometimes it might be the shape of a nose that, together with an insensible remark that might lead to the insight that a good cook who can also photograph is wonderful, but not for oneself. Following one's intuition is most often the right thing.

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  29. I absolutely ADORED this post. It was a lot like I see you: concise, practical, but with a bit of a pirate's heart. I started reading, nodding, kept going and then....wow. Left with one really unfortunate remark and then...a sock. I loved this!

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  30. “This is where Catherine (I made that up; I don’t remember her name) and I honeymooned.”

    You forgot to note that he also had loyalty going for him.

    I daresay you missed out with Bernie; the two of you could have knit whole pairs of socks together for the long-departed Catherine. And talked out her favorite foods. Maybe go back to where they met.

    So much togetherness you missed out on there.

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