It’s been over 30 years and still every time we meet someone new together they get to hear this story.
I was 16, it was Christmas break of my Junior year. The department my father worked for was having a conference up in Park City, so there were professors from all over the world coming into the Salt Lake airport. I was one of the people hired to shuttle them from the airport to Park City in my dad’s 1974 Dodge Van, about a 35 mile drive.* Ed (who was brand new to Utah, and whose brother worked in the same department) was hired to assign people to the different vans.
I was getting paid good money, for a 16 year old, so my parents tacked on the added responsibility of taking care of my little brother. No big deal, there was room in that big old van. Except…
When I picked up Tanja. If you’ve ever watched “That 70’s Show”, Tanja was our Fez my junior year. She was a Foreign Exchange Student from Holland that hung around with my group.
So, my little brother, Tanja and I walk up to the table where Ed is sitting in the middle of the airport and somewhere in the conversation I con him into watching my brother while I drive up to Park City (and back, alone with Tanja) shuttling professors to the hotel there. For the next 3 or 4 hours my brother had the run of the airport, and I had 30 minute stints alone with Tanja on dark, and fairly deserted, I-80.
I didn’t know it at the time, but as Ed tells it now, he was a little bit impressed at my manipulations that night. He says that as I walked away with this tall blond Dutch girl, my brother sitting next to him, he thought “I have to hang around with that guy.”
A month later we ran into each other on the stairs at school and the rest, as they say, is history.
*Yes, it was 1976, when a 16 year old was allowed to drive University professors 35 miles in a big old van without seat belts, and you could stick a complete stranger with your 10 year old brother in an international airport. And nobody thought twice about it.