A Rainy Southern Night
by James Foley
America is where we hung,
And fell in love when we were young.
My youth passed fast: Windows 3.1
(1992)—Windows ’95—Windows ’98—Windows 2000, until my last semester of college.
And in that springtime of 2001, on a wet night,
an attractive weird girl was working in the university cafeteria. Weird because
I’d just been told that she was the daughter of U.S. Senator Samuel Archer.
And I was just sitting, half soaked from the
stormy evening outside—tasting a cheese sandwich: which was wet with the rain
dripping from my hair, veiling my view of that redhead cleaning tables.
What is she? I wondered: some student rebel?
Working just to prove her proletarian credentials? Her independence from her
Now she was cleaning the table next to mine, which
didn’t need cleaning. And as she came closer, pausing and turning towards me,
she imperiously entered the universe of my existence. Or rather, annexed my
existence to the universe of her existence.
Because, now our eye-beams were crossing. Our
mutual stares were stalling out in a standing-wave pattern. And she was
standing there, right in front of me—tilting that strangely glorious head: hair
like sea grass under Windward Islands water.
Her eyes were the water.
And then dropping into a chair across from me:
smiling, but waiting quietly until I finally said:
“That hair drives me stark raving nuts.”
“Redheads go gray fast, Jimmy.”
(My first words from her lips.)
“I guess we’ll have to live fast, then,” I
“I like fast,” she said.
Everything around was just college cafeteria
things. Everything was normal. Everything was like every day. Everything was
But it was about to happen. One girl’s simple
flesh and soul would haunt my days and derail my destiny for a long time—maybe
It was six months before the infamous 9/11
attacks—an Age of Innocence before the Fall, as this girl sitting across from
me whispered the words:
is where we hung,
fell in love when we were young.”
“Who wrote that?” I asked.
“Maybe you did,” she said. No smile of irony or
amusement. Is she all there? Who is this girl?
“You wrote it yourself,” I told her.
“Maybe we’ll write it together,” she said.
Now a smile, but that of a lost creature.
Distracted: mind floating somewhere a long way off.
But it was actually her, herself: the girl
you’d been waiting your whole life to date: wild, mystifying, irresistible. And
she was coming on to you.
Approaching you this rainy night, in the spring
of your senior year at college.
A girl named Archer: Senator Archer’s daughter.
“Jimmy,” she said, “you’re staring so hard!”
I was laughing. I just said, “Anyone as
bad-looking as you should be wearing an iron mask.”
And now she was the one laughing. “Oh, you’re
such a poet! Do you want to see me again?”
“I don’t know. Anything as tempting as you has
got to be illegal.”
“Keep it up, Jimmy. I love it.”
“How do you know my name?”
“That’s my secret. But you’re an aikidoka, right? Black-belt dan?”
“That’s a vicious rumor.”
“So you’re modest too.”
“My achievements were modest.”
“Are you like that about everything, Jimmy? You
shrug everything off?”
“I wouldn’t shrug you off. What’s your name?”
“That’s secret too. But if you buy me an
outrageously expensive dinner tomorrow, I may tell you.”
“I’ll marry you tomorrow if you tell me—or
whether you tell me or not.”
like a plan.”
That first day of my new life was March 21st,
2001—the vernal equinox, beginning of the Eastern New Year: eighty-five years
after Cole Younger died in his home town of Lee’s Summit, Missouri.
And he’s buried there in the Historical
And this girl knew my name. But how explain her
interest in me? Opposites attract? Because I was poor? Athletic? Straight?
Or was it inscrutable fate: karma cryptic?