Snowstorm on the highway of love

After spending a minute with Clyde, (not his real name) some of us felt we had met a boy in a man's body. He allegedly had a recent honorable discharge from the Army, and had a five o'clock shadow around the neck and jaw, but spoke in the manner of a wide-eyed little kid. This was at an office many years ago in which the staff was a mix of full- and part-time employees. Clyde was a part-timer with good work habits, who said "gee-whiz" more than everybody else combined.

It was winter and Clyde, like many of our staff, was compelled to economize by buying groceries in large quantity. This included the jumbo-size Vaseline that Clyde used as lip balm in the cold weather. He kept it in the backpack he brought on the bus to work. People made fun of the one-pound jar of Vaseline, among other odd things about Clyde.

Clyde thought the weather girl on channel 13 was really pretty, and sometimes talked about her in the break room. We didn't know it, but during those weeks Clyde was calling the weather girl at the TV station to try to set up a date.

The next thing we heard, Clyde had been apprehended by the police at a restaurant near our office. He had arranged to meet the channel 13 weather girl there but she had sent the cops in her place. The police searched Clyde's backpack and the tub of Vaseline inside apparently led them to suspect that Clyde's intentions weren't entirely wholesome.

The cops let him go, after they got to know him, judging him to be harmless. The only follow-up occurred some weeks later when I answered the office phone. It was the sportscaster from channel 13 (?!) asking if he could please speak with Mr. Clyde Johnson. It was strange to speak on the phone with a guy I'd seen on TV for years. Anyway, I brought Clyde to the front desk to take the call. Clyde's end of the conversation:

"Hello, this is Clyde Johnson... why hello Mr. Sykes! Yes!... uh-huh... (long interval)... Oh no, I never... No, I... Yes, I'm sorry... Yes, I will... No, I'll never call her again... Certainly I understand... Of course... Yes, I'm sorry to have been a bother... (voice an octave lower)... Good-bye."