21st Anniversary: T minus 3 days
Fall, 1982Karen and I met during my last year at Berkeley. I had recently changed my mind about my future. All of those pre-meds I had despised for the last three years -- well, I still despised them, but I decided maybe they knew something I didn't know. Mind you, I had zero interest in patient care, but that (my counselor told me) wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing. There was this new creature, see. All the rage at places like Hahvahd or Stanford. They called 'em MD-PhDs. I'd get to live in a lab like a PhD (something I wanted at the time) but I'd get paid like an MD, and NIH would rain grants down upon me, a veritable golden shower . . . Anyway, this change in direction meant I had to take a hard look at my appearance on paper. The one thing I lacked was research experience. And so, in Fall Quarter of my senior year, I cast around looking for a lab, and soon found myself with Professor Sung-Hou Kim. I was years-young and world-stupid enough to get deliriously excited over the prospect of twenty hours work per week with no pay, and in that mood I first laid eyes on Karen. I left Melvin Calvin Lab and skipped over to Hildebrand Library. (I did a lot of skipping in those days, skipping and moping. A sure target for the Moonies.) I had to tell someone of my stunning good fortune. I ran over to a table where my friend Stan sat with two girls I didn't recognize. I began to effuse, but Stan would have none of it. "What?" I said. "Are you still mad at me?" He was mad about something, and it was probably me. He'd dropped in on me at my apartment earlier that week, unexpected, and I hadn't been too welcoming. "Should I be mad at him?" he asked Karen and Suzie. They both kept quiet. You couldn't really answer a question like that. Later, he told me that Karen and Suzie were roommates, and I could take my pick. Later still, he found out that Karen had a boyfriend and retracted his offer. (Stan was like that back then. Different.) This bummed me out. He'd hyped her to me -- told me how smart she was, how she took math classes for fun. (Karen denies this. She says all of those math classes had a purpose.) It didn't take much hype to keep me interested. It wasn't love at first sight. It wasn't even lust at first sight. No, what I felt was far more ominous. Kismet.
Tomorrow, T minus 2 days: Smorgasbord!D.