“It was a day like any other day; I left the small town… It was my destiny; it’s what I needed to do…”
“Long, Long Way from Home” by Foreigner
It was October 31, 1983, a Monday, and I was trying to decide if I should go out and take part in the Halloween festivities at my favorite night club. I had been to a few Halloween parties the previous Saturday night, and wasn’t sure if I wanted to go out again. My friend Loren didn’t have to work very hard to convince me that it would be fun, so we decided we would.
My costume, I decided, was to dress up as a woman. I had a blue, wrap around bath robe which I would use as a skirt, and a red and white checkerboard short sleeve, button up shirt that I would tie up under my chest, Daisy Duke style. A trip to the nearest grocery store provided me with a pair of panty hose and a package of small round balloons, which when inflated, would provide the necessary curves inside my top. As I wanted to be able to dance, I opted to wear my normal black dress shoes instead of trying to find a female friend with size twelve feet who would be willing to loan me a pair of heels. My friend Theresa caught sight of me as I was preparing to leave, and convinced me to sit down and allow her to apply some make up. She put on enough that I looked quite hideous, and decided to add nail polish at the last moment, something I would thank her for later!
I drove Loren over the bridge from Fargo into Moorhead, because I was 20 years old and the drinking age in Minnesota was 19 at that time. We went all of the way through town, to the east side, to my favorite night club, the aptly named “East Gate Lounge.” The air was cold enough that I could see my breath, but I left my coat inside the car so that it wouldn’t take anything away from my costume. We needed to wait outside only a few minutes until someone left, and we were allowed to enter the establishment. I gained a new appreciation for the fairer sex after standing outside in freezing temperatures with a bare midriff and a skirt with pantyhose for what seemed like forever!
The bar was packed, as was the norm, and I began wiggling through the crowd to the dance floor, situated in the middle of the dark cavern. There were overhead, colored lights blinking in time with the music, and the dance floor itself was colored glass; alive and moving with the additional lighting coming from underneath. The dance floor was full of rapidly moving bodies, and I began looking for someone to dance with.
I saw a girl that I knew, Katy, and asked her to join me on the floor. She was dressed up like a flashing Christmas tree, and she said she wasn’t dancing because she wanted a shot at winning the $100 prize for best costume. She pointed to the electrical cord coming from the costume, and I saw that she was indeed connected to a power outlet on the wall. It was an extremely ingenious costume, and I believe she eventually won 2nd prize, losing out to a pair of obnoxious twins with spots drawn all over their faces wearing t-shirts, one with a huge “V” and the other with a huge “D.” They ran around like crazy men the entire night, pointing at couples and screaming: “We’re VD and we’re going to get you!”
I saw a table by the dance floor occupied by two young women, one in costume, wearing a white sheet as a toga, with ivy leaves woven through her short blond hair. I asked the pretty girl to dance, she agreed, and told me her name was Sue as we walked the few steps to the floor. Sue was a good dancer, and we bounced around together through seven fast songs, staying close because the floor was packed, and I didn’t want to lose Miss Toga in the crowd. The DJ finally played a slower song, and I shrugged and smiled, nonverbally asking Sue if she wanted to continue, and she nodded her head, signaling she was willing.
We were both extremely hot and sweaty from the previous 30 minutes of dancing, but as I got near this beautiful young lady, I just remember thinking that she was simply glowing with radiance. As we tried to nestle together, which was the customary position for a slow dance, I immediately realized my balloons were going to come between us. After a few awkward attempts to draw Sue in close, I backed up, reached into my shirt, and pushed the balloons under my arms until they were on the back of my chest, instead of the front. I then moved back towards Sue, put my arms around her waist, and pulled her near. She responded by putting her arms around my neck and shoulders, and pressing her cheek against my chest. We slowly swayed to the music, the scent of Sue’s delicate shampoo and soap intermingling and gently making their way to my nose, filling my lungs with her sweetness with each breath.
Yes, I had just met this girl, and we hadn’t spoken more than a few shouted words to each other on the loud, crowded dance floor, but everything about her sent signals to my brain, alerting me that I had never before met a girl like Sue! After the third slow song ended, the DJ switched back to a fast number, and Sue pulled away. She looked up with the prettiest eyes I’ve ever seen, and I couldn’t help myself: I leaned forward and gave her a quick peck on her forehead. She thanked me for the dance and returned to her table, her friend, and her now warm Budweiser beer.
I made my way to the bar and purchased a Budweiser of my own, before finding a few people I knew who also lived in my dorm. We chatted for a while, and Loren told me he was ready to go. I told him I had met a girl that I wanted to try to talk to, so he got a ride home with the other guys, and I went in pursuit of excellence!
I could see across the bar that Sue and her friend were still sitting at their table, so I returned and asked her if she wanted to dance some more. She teased me about my balloons at this point, and told me that I either needed to straighten them, or take them out. I moved them back to more natural positions and we danced some more. I eventually asked her if I could buy her a Budweiser, and when she agreed, we moved over into a little quieter area and found two empty seats at the bar. We talked about the normal things: I told her I attended North Dakota State, and she told me she worked at KVNJ television. When she asked me what classes I had in the morning, I said I had a swimming class at 8:00, and it was at that time that I realized that I didn’t own fingernail polish remover, and I didn’t want to go swimming with red polish on my nails!
I was in a bind, but I also took advantage of the situation and asked Sue if she had polish remover back at her apartment, and if I could use some. She didn’t answer right away, but looked me in the eyes instead, and I realized she was making a decision on whether she could trust me or not. She hesitated for a second then said yes, BUT her roommate was sleeping at home, and we couldn’t wake her. Sue said she was driving, and she had to take her friend home, but I could follow in my car if I wanted. Sue drove a very sporty 1972 blue Dodge Challenger, and somehow I managed to keep up with her until they stopped somewhere in south Moorhead. The two girls talked in Sue’s car for what seemed like a long time, and I wondered if Sue was changing her mind about taking a strange man back to her apartment. Eventually Sue’s friend Deanna got out of the car and waved to me as she walked into her house. I took that as a good sign, and followed the blue car back into Fargo.
Sue pulled into the assigned parking spot at her building, got out of her car and pointed to the area that visitors could use. She ran inside her building while I parked my car, then I also ran through the cold to meet her right inside the main door. Sue reminded me again that her roommate was sleeping inside, and I promised that I would be very quiet. She led me to her door, unlocked it, and as we went inside, she pointed to a beanbag chair on the living room floor, and whispered for me to wait there while she got the polish remover. She returned with the bottle of remover and some cotton balls and took off the red polish herself. She then told me to wait in the bean bag chair while she put everything away. She returned with a throw blanket, turned on the radio to a very low volume and sat down next to me. She threw the blanket over us and cuddled in next to me.
We spent the entire night in that bean bag chair, whispering, giggling, and cuddling; her roommate Stephanie slumbering peacefully on the other side of the wall. Eventually, Sue said it was time for me to leave because she had to get ready to go to work. When I asked her if she would like to go out on a date sometime she said she would, so I asked her for her telephone number. As she was writing, I wrote my number on a piece of paper too, and told her she could call me if she wanted. She gave me her number and suggested I should call her instead, if I wanted to go on a date. After waiting the appropriate amount of time, I called Sue, we went on that first date, and were married less than two years later.
I had left home two years earlier to seek my fortune in the big city, but as it turned out, Fargo was as far as I would need to go. I didn’t know it at the time, but that cold Halloween night 29 years ago would forever change my life. I drove alone into Fargo in 1981, but when I left seven years later, I had an education, but more importantly, I wasn’t alone any longer; I had that fun loving blonde at my side, ready to take on the world together!