Every time I clean my glasses I think of Julie, one of the numerous young women who lived in my group house in NW DC during the 5 years I spent there. She had risen from nothing to something and seemed unphased by anything thrown her way.
Julie had grown up with a single mother, gone to a prestigious girls’ school probably on scholarship, and had landed a boyfriend who was brilliant and rather nerdy and guaranteed to do big things in life.
Julie was practical about some things I would never have thought about. Instead of using special sprays to clean her glasses, she washed them with dishwashing detergent each morning when she came down before breezing off to work at the Pentagon and then on to graduate school at night at AU.
She also clued me into the fact that pouring hot water out of a tea kettle on my frozen windshield was likely to shatter it. Coming from the south, I had little experience with things like this.
Her association with the wealthy boy who was a Princeton graduate and who played the bagpipes gave her important names to throw around. She had magnificent jewelry from Pampillonia, bought her wedding dress at Claire Dratch in Bethesda, and got married at The Cosmos Club, where the boy’s father was a member.
I have often wondered what happened to Julie. Whether she converted to Judaism so as to share the religion of her husband. Whether she had children. Whether she had a meaningful career of her own or whether she was content to support her husband as he became a distinguished computer science professor and went on to start multiple successful businesses during the peak of the .com explosion.
Of one thing I can be sure: Julie is still washing her glasses with dishwashing detergent every day, that is unless she has had laser surgery and no longer wears glasses.