It was the old standard – boy meets girl, boy loses girl, and the kicker, boy finds girl, – but, was it really the same old same old?
The boy in question is Benji, the girl is Jeannie. Benji met Jeannie at a conference for mining engineers. He was new to the field and had ventured to these meetings to pursue job opportunities. Jeannie was something of an anomaly in the profession: she had been the only female in her graduating class. In her first few years of establishing herself, it was no surprise that she was met with sexist skepticism. As the years went on, however, more women entered the field and their presence was gradually accepted.
Jeannie was now at the peak of her career – she was a well-published author, the recipient of professional honours, and an executive in her firm. She enjoyed her position but was considering a new adventure; specifically, starting her own enterprise. She had lately been researching the development of archeological sites, and believed that her expertise in targeted digging would be of considerable value. She was at the conference to seek out possible hires.
Meanwhile, in the process of reviewing job applications, she was intrigued by Benjamin Lee. He had spent decades as both a veterinarian and a landscaper. She was struck by his explanation for his current interest in mining engineering. He claimed to have been inspired by his childhood game of Twenty Questions: animal, vegetable, or mineral. He had flourished in the first two areas and now it was time for the third, and he had just graduated.
“OK”, Jeannie mused, “I’m into taking chances now, so why not take a chance on him?”
Benji started working for Jeannie. They experienced a strong connection that went beyond the professional. A workplace romance is not the greatest idea, but, after all, Jeannie was the boss and made the rules, and thus thought she could circumvent them.
Life moved along gracefully. Business thrived – work requests kept flowing in. On one such assignment, Benji unearthed a strange, jewel-encrusted object, under untold layers of dirt.
Having cleaned it with loving care and thoroughness, revealing its unusual beauty, Benji exulted in his prize.
Jeannie immediately grabbed for it: “MINE!” she triumphed.
“Hey, wait a minute”, stammered a perplexed Benji, “It’s got to be mine, I’m the one who found it.”
Jeannie’s hackles went up. “No”, she commanded, “you work for me, Benji, and don’t you forget it. Give it to me NOW; it’s my property!” Gone was her pleasant personality, as out came a rapacious monster.
Benji was seriously taken aback, wounded, close to tears. “But, Jeannie, Jeannie! Please listen to me…I found it. I just wish you would give it back.”
Amazingly, Jeannie handed the object back to him with a gracious smile. Benji was surprised at her sudden change of heart, but he had already felt himself freeze. His feelings for Jeannie evaporated. He walked off with sad, slow steps.
Jeannie followed him. Benji did not look back. “Benji”, she called to him, “Wait up. What is it? What’s wrong? I gave it back to you. You should be okay. I wish you would tell me what is going on.”
“Okay”, said Benji. “Okay? Who are you? I couldn’t believe my eyes when you snatched the object right out of my hand. I can’t love you after that; I just can’t be with you like this.”
“Yes,” admitted Jeannie, “I was too excited. I was an idiot. I am so so sorry. I wish you could forgive me and we could be together again.”
Benji felt his heart thaw; he reached out to Jeannie with a happy smile and a loving hug.
Boy and girl reunited.
Meanwhile, the spirit who grants wishes stretched and prepared for another two thousand year sleep, thinking, “No challenge here; this was almost too easy.”
Marilyn Myerson, PhD Philosophy, has learned to take nothing for granted and to have fun. She retired from USF after 38 years of teaching, learning and kicking up her heels in Women’s and Gender Studies. Marilyn was the first outside hire in W(G)S, starting in 1973, when the department was just one year old. She was an administrator at various departmental and dean’s levels, including a stint as W(G)S Chair before her retirement as Emeritus faculty in 2010. She shepherded the Human Sexual Behavior class through its many incarnations, developed the original women’s health classes,and taught feminist research methodology. She is currently leading a writing group, and happily involved with OLLI-USF, taking art and writing classes.