I do not know when I fell for you, but I do know that it was instant and all-consuming.
Standing outside of the WQED studios on Fifth Avenue, I hesitated and asked myself as the rain started to fall, “What will I say?” What could I say to the man behind Sandwiches That You Will Like, the greatest work of seduction I ever experienced?
“I … I have never been to Brookline,” I stammered, as you sauntered to your car.
The way you looked at me without any trace of pity, it melted away my inhibitions.
“Let’s go!” You tossed your beat-up briefcase adorned with a faded Chapel Hill sticker into the trunk and stepped towards me, your hand extended and welcoming. In a blink of an eye, we were strolling the boulevard, unaffected by the rainwater splashes from cars hitting potholes. In Pitaland, we laughed at the clever tip jar, and then you leaned in and said point-blank, “Tell me something you’re afraid to tell anyone.”
“I don’t think I like roller coasters,” I admitted.
“What! What do you mean?” You squeezed my hand, and somehow we floated down the Mon to Pittsburgh’s great old amusement park.
The Jack Rabbit rattled my bones, yet the pain of early arthritis receded into my soul as my heart opened more to your memories of Kennywood — your glee, so contagious. At The Potato Patch, I confessed, “You reveal charm in places I underestimate. You show the possibility in the banal. You’re the most romantic man I’ve ever known.” My hands trembled as I clutched my food tray. Sensing my anxiety towards my own admission, you hugged me generously, before taking a fry.
At sunset, you took us to the South Hills where we sat together at Warhol’s grave, delicately slurping Campbell’s soup in near silence. You pointed up to the camera, and we stared into the live feed, giving 15 minutes of fame to our love. Our closeness was so comfortable, and I knew then that those final 15 minutes were all I needed, because an entire city, perhaps a whole world of PBS enthusiasts, were perpetually waiting for you.
So I accepted your goodbye and watched as you walked down the grassy hill, careful not to fall, utilizing your new physical therapy skills. As you turned to nod farewell, flashing those dimples that could reignite the Carrie Furnace, I called out to you, “I will make an entire tribute of reasons I love you A-Z.”
“That may be too niche for a TV audience,” you said.
As I forced a goodbye wave, the rain camouflaged my tears, and I whispered, “No, it is not.”
Never stop making scrapbooks for our hearts, Rick Sebak.