Lost Journal: Five’s Company on Valentine’s Day

Tim Mollen, Lost Journal: Five’s Company on Valentine’s Day

Journal entry: February 14, 1992 (age 22) – Valentine’s Day

A few weeks ago, I boarded an Amtrak train, with most of my belongings in two army duffel bags. The 12-hour trip from Syracuse had not been easy, especially because we seemed to make station stops every half-mile of the journey. It didn’t help that I was nervous. I had gone away to college, but this would be my first time truly away from home.

I was lucky to have someone waiting for me at the train station. Barbara Rittinger has been a good friend of mine since 7th grade. She cemented the trajectory of our relationship early, during a game of spin-the-bottle, when she absolutely refused to kiss me unless I took off my glasses. I think she figured if I couldn’t see her, she had plausible deniability.

Since my arrival in Chi-town, Barb has vaulted into the Friend Hall of Fame. While I’ve been looking for a job, she’s given me a place to stay, access to a washer and dryer, and a sympathetic ear. The job search, so far, has been a long, unfruitful one. Along with the rest of the college class of 1991, my first real job search has nicely dovetailed with the recession that’s been plaguing the final year of the administration of George Bush. I hope I reached the low point last week, when I failed to secure an interview for assistant stock boy at the Gap.

But who am I to complain? I’m living with, not one, but four, cute girls in the big city. Barb’s three buddies have even less reason to play gracious hostess to me, but they’ve been just as welcoming and helpful. Anne-Marie Strzelecki is Barb’s best friend from college, a talented writer, and the promotions manager for WLUP-FM (“The Loop”). Mary Beth Farlow is a (very) South Side girl with a larger-than-life personality, a great laugh, and a hilarious sense of humor. Val Huetten is the smart, fun-loving girl who I refer to exclusively as “Val my Pal.” Barb is one of the very few people who are allowed to call me “Timmy.” Somehow, her three friends have crashed that party. I’m OK with it.

A few days ago, I spent my modest savings on the first and last month’s rent for a tiny studio apartment on West Deming Place, in Lincoln Park. I still don’t have a job, so this was kind of a Hail Mary pass. But I’ll worry about that later. Tonight, I took my friends out to dinner to say thank you for their hospitality. That’s what I told them anyway. Having four pretty dates on Valentine’s Day wasn’t exactly rough duty. Besides, I owe them. I don’t imagine the unemployed, unshaven slob fused to their couch has been a boon for their dating prospects. “That’s Timmy – he watches Bee Gees concerts on VH-1 here.”

At the beginning of our Valentine’s dinner, I offered a toast to my four soon-to-be-ex-roommates. “To Barb, Anne-Marie, Mary Beth and Val: Thank you being for being wonderful friends when I really needed them. The only man who could have been luckier was John Ritter, if Suzanne Somers hadn’t moved out when Jennilee Harrison and Priscilla Barnes moved into the apartment he shared with Joyce Dewitt. Amen.”

Tim Mollen
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