Oops. I left my date on the bus.

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Hope your date night was everything you wanted it to be and more.

Personally, I haven’t liked date night since the winter of 1981.

For an introvert masquerading as a homebody, date night is just another opportunity to feel like a loser party pooper.

The truth is, all I’ve ever wanted to do on date night is chill out on the sofa, eat potato chips, and watch television.

Of course, some decades were filled with more Saturday night studying and working than chilling and crunching chips, but it’s all good.  I never minded studying or working on a Saturday night.

In the winter of 1981, I had the date experience everyone should have.  My college crush finally got up the nerve to give me an opening to suggest he ask me out.

Did you follow that?

Let’s just say he was shy.

We had been in the main hall of the library all day studying.  My crush sat near me, just a few tables away, and we alternated not looking at each other while the other pretended to be focused on literature.  As the cold, wintry Saturday went on, we met for hourly smoke breaks in the vestibule of the library.

In those days, we could smoke inside and we would stand in the lobby area waiting, waiting, waiting for the other to take a risk and suggest a date.

As the library announced it was getting ready to close in an hour, we shared a last cigarette.

Finally, my crush asked what I was thinking and, completely out of character, but desperate to spend more time with him, I said “You know what? I feel like doing something wild and crazy.”

For the record, and in the spirit of full disclosure,, I have never wanted to do something wild and crazy.

But my crush was apparently thinking the same exact thing. He seized the moment, instructing me to go home and get dressed because he would pick me up in a half-hour.

That night we left campus and went to a local dance club where they must have played Tainted Love 12 times. We danced to it each time.

It was so hot.

It was freezing outside, but the dance club was hot from dancing and by the time we got in the car to go home we were soaked with sweat.

My crush, who shall be nameless lest he’s on Facebook, came home with me that night.

He came home to my room on the third floor of a boarding house type situation.

We laid on the mostly uncomfortable bed, fully clothed, and he played with my hair and kissed my forehead late into the early morning. When Foreigner came on the radio, and played Waiting For a Girl Like You, we knew that would be our song. The next morning we awoke late, in love and chaste. By the end of the day, we were more in love and much less chaste.

I’m sure I’ve had Saturday night dates since then, but mostly Saturday nights have been saved for the sofa.

In recent years, date night has been reserved not just for the sofa, but for my favorite followers.

The Saturday night Facebook crowd has been with me every single Saturday night, relaxed, silly, and ready to make fun of whatever’s worth making fun of that day.

Several years ago, Facebook told me that my fans were most active on Saturday night and Sunday night, and so I then had the perfect excuse for staying at home.

So I was incredibly shocked to hear today that one of my biggest fans, Susan Reinhard, died.

Her sister posted the news on Facebook where so many of her friends hang out.

I’m devastated.

I’m devastated that I didn’t suspect this could happen and that I didn’t take time to tell Susan how very much she meant to me.

Susan worked for United Media for 23 years. She had worked with my all-time favorite editor, Amy Lago, for part of that time, while Amy was editing taller, more male-ish cartoonists.

Susan loved everything I loved.

I knew she was sick and I knew her health challenges were significant lately.

But I still thought she had forever and, to be honest, I thought I would be gone long before she would.

If I had known Susan’s time was short I would have told her a couple of things.

First of all, I would have told her I love her for being there all the time.  Whether she was there all the time because she was sick or because she enjoyed it doesn’t matter to me. I’m an introvert who is often restricted by depression, and to say that I love my virtual community is understatement.

My social media friends provide me an escape, a safety net, and a party, all at the same time.

For an introvert with depression, that’s a great combination.

But Susan was much more then a friend in waiting and a friend in fact. She was a huge fan of my art and my humor.

She responded to my cartoons every day and told me the feelings or thoughts my work had provoked for her.

Susan was raw, honest, passionate and unscared of debate.  She was honest up to the edge and often over. I was jealous of her ability to type her first reactions since I am the queen of editing and manipulating the messages I put out there.

Every once in a while the pendulum swings toward bashing the Internet, technology and social media. But I am the biggest defender of it all, especially virtual communities.

For someone who can’t just say “what the hell” and get out there and be spontaneous, the virtual world of social media becomes very real, quite meaningful incredibly loving and surprisingly supportive. In many ways, the virtual world is better than reality in that people come to you when they’re ready and they come to you where you’re at.

I’ll say goodbye to Susan more coherently and appropriately over the next couple of days as her absence becomes clear.

But for now, I will just say that to all of you who spend time with me virtually during the day, during the night, during the stressful times and during even the crappiest Mondays, thank you.

Never ever underestimate the value of your visit to my pages and your responses to my posts.

I know they call it virtual, but for me it’s very real.

Goodnight, Susan. Hope you’re reading me.

xoxo, d

 

 

 

 

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