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Out of the Humidor

CA Readers
From the Print Edition:
Tom Selleck, Winter 95/96

(continued from page 6)

I now believe that I am one of the most fortunate guys in the world. As of fall 1994, I would never have made such a statement. Although I was only 30 years old, I had already amassed what I now consider a long and impressive list of sad accomplishments: many miserable years of studying in higher education, several years of endless workdays and worknights in one of the largest and most oppressive (i.e., prestigious) law firms in Manhattan, one marriage, one divorce, type I juvenile diabetes, an increasingly life-threatening drinking habit, a string of meaningless relationships--I think you get my drift. Despite the high-end culture that all my hard-earned money could afford, I had become a personification of the colloquialism "Money can't buy happiness."

On paper, I was esteemed as a role model; in reality, I was miserable. I was alive, but clearly not appreciating the very joy and gift of life itself.

About this time last fall while I was dwelling in emotional bankruptcy, my firm offered to send me up to Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, to recruit some students who would graduate soon. Although it was only for the day, any excuse to get out of "The Firm" was a welcome one (I hadn't taken a vacation in over 18 months).

I interviewed 25 students in one day --individually, one after the other. My allotted 30-minute lunch break quickly dwindled to 15 minutes; I went to a sandwich shop in Collegetown, and as luck (or destiny) would have it, I ended up sharing a table with an elderly Cornell professor.

For 15 minutes, the professor and I had quite a fascinating exchange. He was a rocket scientist, conversant in over a dozen languages, extraordinarily well-traveled, and to quote his business card, a "Professor of Applied Physics and Electrical Engineering, Condensed-Matter Physics, Kinetic Theory Applied Mathematics, Astrophysics"! He is also a world-renowned expert on quantum mechanics!

Needless to say, the professor was quite a conversationalist. One thing led to another and he began to describe his gorgeous daughter who lives in Manhattan. He didn't come out and say it, but I gathered he was inviting me to ask him for his daughter's name and phone number to look her up upon my return to New York City. Despite having my mouth full of food the entire 15 minutes, I guess I still managed to make a favorable impression upon the old man. However, at the time I was dating enough women to support a healthy addiction to alcohol, Tylenol and Ibuprofin and had no desire to pursue another anytime soon. Upon my abrupt departure, the professor and I exchanged business cards. I was starting to leave when he exclaimed, "You know, David, I'm not a very religious man, but I do believe many events in life are destiny, and our chance meeting could be such an event."

As I was in a hurry, that last statement (as well as many before) went temporarily over my head; so, I merely responded, "Yeah, me, too. Nice meeting you, Professor," and I sped off to return to the interviewing.

About six weeks later, holed up in a hotel room on business somewhere in the Midwest and overwhelmed with my usual boredom and insomnia, I discovered the professor's business card tucked away in my wallet.

If curiosity killed the cat, then it very well may be my doom someday as well. The professor's dissertation on "destiny" was ringing in my ears and I became intent on meeting his daughter regardless of the consequences of previous blind dates. Swearing off blind dates after every disappointment is much like the alcoholic's daily exclamation to never drink again--if you are cursed with an insatiable appetite, there's just no resisting.

I wrote a letter that evening (or morning as the case may be) to the professor, professing my own views on destiny and, at long last, asking for his permission and approval to contact his daughter.

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