Before I became a married guy, I was a single guy. I dated a lots of girls before I got married, generally one at time, but in September of 1978, I dated three girls at once.
Pat Levinski was a blonde. Sandy Evan was a brunette. Robin Wolfe was a redhead. Put ’em all together and you have a banana split. They were all living in Rice, MN, which is a small town about halfway between Little Falls and St Cloud on Highway 10.
There’s a saying that goes, If nobody knows the trouble you’ve seen, you’re not from a small town. I should’ve remembered that. In retrospect, I’m surprised now that none of them told the others who they were going out with back then.
My best friend at the time was Shorty Girtz. He was the owner/operator of a gas station in downtown Rice. Shorty’s station was the de facto gathering place of all young potheads living in the Rice area, and that’s where I met my three girlfriends.
I know I’ve said I was somewhat blithe of scruple prior to becoming a nurse, and there’s nothing that illustrates that fact as clearly as this story. Pat and Sandy were best friends, and my cousin, Danny W. Long, was kind of dating Sandy. Robin was a friend of theirs, but more importantly, she was dating my very good friend, Shorty. I had no moral conflict about dating all of them, not even Robin. Or Sandy. And maybe I wasn’t the only one with questionable ethics…
Small World Factoid: another one of my very good friends, Don Nelson, also dated Robin. Just not at the same time Shorty and I did. Well, not that I know of anyhow…
On the weekends, I liked to go out to the Little Rock Ballroom, just outside of Rice. It was set on Little Rock Lake, hence the name. They served cheap beer, they had live bands on Friday and Saturday nights, and the largest dancefloor in Central Minnesota. I loved drinking and dancing a lots back then. So did Pat and Sandy, and they could dance. I was a pretty good dancing guy back then, but those girls put me to shame.
I fell in love with both of them. Robin was a good dancer, but I think what drew me to her was her sophistication. She was easily the classiest woman in Rice.
I asked Pat out first. I probably took her to a movie in St Cloud. Then I asked out Sandy, and I probably took her to a different movie. And then I took Robin to yet another movie. There was a lots of hugging and kissing afterwards, but none of my relationships with the Banana Split Girls would progress to the level of the couple in the car in the woods that Don and I saw on our excellent canoeing adventure.
For roughly three and a half weeks I went out with one of my three girlfriends every night, or every other night. Even I needed to sleep every now and then. A movie, dinner and a movie, drinks and dinner, dancing and drinks, just drinks. Whatever they were up for, so was I. I was living the high life with a different gorgeous gal almost every night. I was pretty sure I was in heaven.
I went to work everyday at 6:00 AM. I put in my eight hours, then I’d go home and call my girls to see what they were up to, shuffle the deck and cut the cards, and the winner is… We’d make plans for the evening, and away we would go.
There was only one downside that I clearly remember. My playboy lifestyle I was exhausting. I probably wouldn’t be that tired again until my wife became chronically ill and I lived at two hospitals.
I’m thinking now I also had to be broke because all that wining and dining and movies and gasoline had to be expensive, even at 1970’s prices. I was working as a long distance operator at the phone company in Little Falls, so I certainly wasn’t making a six figure salary. Looking back, I figure I was maybe making around five to six grand a year.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way. So the saying goes. I found a way. There’s another saying, All good things must end. And so it was with me and the Banana Split Girls.
It was near the end of that magical month of September. I had gone out with Robin. I don’t remember where we went, or what we did. I was taking Robin home, and we decided to drop in at one of the greasy spoon dining places in Rice–it doesn’t seem fair to call it a restaurant–to get something to eat so we’d have a lots of energy for hugging and kissing.
We had eaten our entrees and were sharing dessert. Robin wanted a piece of pie. She must have had a sweet tooth craving or something. And guess who walked in? Pat and Sandy!
They took one look at me, one look at Robin, and turned around and walked out. And that was how my brief career as a player in the dating scene in Rice came to an end. Neither of them would go out with me again. Neither would Robin, for that matter. She decided she couldn’t date two guys that also happened to be good friends, and she chose Shorty over me.
At the time, I was probably a little bummed out that my playboy lifestyle came to such an abrupt end, but I was also relieved. I could go back to drinking beer with my guy buddies, who didn’t expect me to buy them all their drinks, and buy them dinner.
And I could go back to sleeping again at night. In some ways, that was the most fortuitous piece of pie I’ve ever had in my life.