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Sunday 24 Oct 2021

My Four Susans
AJ Robinson

Source: TV Guide

Many years ago, I estimate more than fifty, I faced a dilemma in my life. This was surprising and demanding for a child of six or seven. I needed a girlfriend, and her name had to be Susan.

It was perplexing.

Here’s how it all started. First, when I was four my brother Greg married Susan Dodd. A year later they had a little boy, my nephew Nick, and after that came my niece, Heidi. By age seven we had an extended family from only one brother.

The mind boggled at the thoughts of what the other brothers would bring to the table, so to speak. Not long after that, at one family dinner, Thanksgiving. I think, but to be honest, it could have simply been a Sunday meal, we had an event that boggled my mind. My brothers Stephen and David brought their girlfriends to meet the family; both girls were named Susan.

Thus, we had Greg’s wife Susan, two brothers with their Susans, my brother Daniel and me. Although Danny was old enough to date, he didn’t have a current girlfriend. Maybe it’s more accurate to say he didn’t have one who would tear herself away from her own family to dine with us.

As for me, at around age seven, I most definitely had no girl in my life, but that meal stuck in my mind. It stayed rooted in the brain of a little boy, which meant you can only imagine how it got distorted by my perceptions of the world. If you’re at all familiar with the television show Bobby’s World”; part of the humor in it was derived from him not understanding the adult world and the terms they used.

I was in that same boat. I saw three brothers with girls in their lives and all three had the same name, Susan. Was that some sort of family rule? Did I need to plan to find myself a Susan?

There was a Susy at school.

As I sat at the table and reviewed my options during that meal. The only Susan I knew was Susy Cass at school. I pictured her in my mind and smiled: she was a tomboy, rough and tumbled and liked dinosaurs as much as I did.

Susy was also quite tiny, which I rather liked. Of course, me, well, even then I was big for my age. I could see giving her a piggyback ride if I had to. My dad always said that a good man carries his woman, takes care of her and opens doors for her.

I was certainly capable of the first one and the third requirement was easy enough to handle. I didn’t quite understand the scope of taking care, but if it meant sharing my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at lunchtime, I could do that. Therefore, in my mind, I was all set for having a Susan in my life, except for one thing.

I didn’t want a girlfriend. My friend Lisa, down on Martha’s Vineyard, was pretty much the closest thing to a BFF I had. I had the strangest feeling that maybe I shouldn’t have two girls in my life at the same time. Even at that age, I seemed to sense that women didn’t like that.

I devised a simple solution. I would be friends with Susy, but no sharing my PB & J, as that was too intimate. I’d remain devoted to Lisa, too.

Some day in the distant future, at least five or six years, if I truly needed a Susan to fit in with the family, I’d make my move on Susy. Surely all it would take is a couple sandwiches, some comics, and a Barbie doll or two to make her mine. How hard could this girlfriend thing be?

Finding a girlfriend is hard, I discovered.

Within a year Greg’s Susan was the only one in the family, Susy was still one of my best buds at school, Lisa remained a good friend and I didn’t have to share my PB & J. As far as I was concerned, a win-win situation for me. I did eventually learn just how hard getting a real girlfriend was.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Working, again, as an engineeer, after years out of the field due to 2009 recession and slow recovery, Robinson finds time to write. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true. His teen vampire adventure novel, "Vampire Vendetta," will publish in 2020. Robinson continues to write books, screenplays and teleplays and keeps hoping for that big break.

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