Discovered in a box so big that your Crap Archivist had to climb inside it, this 1982 datebook is a marvel of local history, an accidental chronicle of a time, a place and an unidentified diarist's determination never to exceed a personal weight of 115 pounds. Twenty-seven years ago, this proved difficult in a country that was more Big Mac than grilled-chicken wrap. With her friends Dottie, C.W., B.B. and the mysterious "D" (always guarded by quotation marks), our strip-mall Proust lives the year of E.T. and An Officer and a Gentleman (she pronounces both movies "good") to its fullest. She and her pals lunch at the Carriage Club, drink at the Bristol, examine portraits at Stix, jog through Loose Park, and attend Brenda's March 10 Tupperware party. They attend apartment-complex parties in Mission and go to Dick Howser-era Royals games.
They also keep one another's secrets. On Saturday, January 16, our diarist — let's call her "Ms. Rockwell" — meets "D" at Harry Starker's.
Juicy! Who is this "D," who one day fixes her TV and the next drops by "to tell Bren about Brian"? The morning after her Starker's rendezvous, Ms. Rockwell makes just this note:
"Slept until 11:30; told Kate about problem."
Always a lady, Ms. Rockwell never shared with her datebook — or with those of us looking at her from the brave new world of 2009 — just what that problem might have been.
Meet the mysterious, forward-thinking Ms. Rockwell, a Twitterer before there was Twitter, a young woman constantly updating her status before Facebook's designers were born. Each day of 1982, she logs the major events of her life in a book that will turn up a quarter-century later in Kansas City's most cluttered thrift store.
Her winter and spring entries suggests that she's a college grad, still close to her sorority sisters, who is excited to run into "Kappas" at "Hooper's." She roots for KU, the Royals and the Chiefs. She has recently leased an apartment with a moody roommate but still crashes at her parents' house from time to time. Her days take her from Kentucky Fried Chicken to the Indian Hills Country Club, from Kelly's to Fred P. Ott's to the Granfalloon. "Clark" endures a DWI bust. In the first half of 1982, she never mentions love or dating; though she might write "Tipsy!" after a Friday night on the Plaza, drinking seems an event rather than a lifestyle. She weighs herself most days and notes the results in the margin. These range from a low of 112 pounds to a from-nowhere 121 with "FAT!" penned beside it. Ms. In fact, she records her meals and snacks with disturbing precision.
Winter weight: Like most of us, Ms. Rockwell saw a new year as a new start, making resolutions and setting goals . . . and guiltily abandoning them right from the start. She means for 1982 to be a year of diets, jogging and journaling, but at first she embarks upon none of these things with any dedication. On New Year's Day, a Friday, she logs just three activities:
"Lunch — Waid's w/ Becky — Sharon
watched bowl games
dinner — at home w/ everyone."
On January 2, she occupies herself with family and shopping. She visits "Crown Center + Village," blows two hours at the airport when her mom's plane is delayed, and catches Absence of Malice at the Seville with Becky. A Sunday snowstorm scotches her chance to start that diet until January 6. She drops a pound but can maintain her willpower only a week.
Wednesday, January 13: "Subaru estimate — Fessler; did wash at home; broke diet — ate sweets."
By late January, she's back at it. On the 26th, she starts a "carbo diet," but on the 31st, she moans, "Pigged out!" On February 1: "Fat."
The momentous events of Tuesday, February 2, break the cycle.
"Went to Dolgins w/ mom — bought Walkman."
With this sleek lump of nearly millennial technology to spur her, she picks up jogging. She runs along Ward Parkway and through Roeland Park and Mission Hills, taking off 4 pounds in 10 days. By mid-April, she's running four miles a day and averaging a super flyweight 113. (But she never tells us what she's listening to. Kim Carnes? Juice Newton? REO Speedwagon?)
A real job: Until mid-March, Ms. Rockwell's mysterious work demands that she "clerk" and "cashier" and pull dreadful, entry-level shifts. Between January 11 and 17, she works 3 to 11 p.m. every day but Saturday. On the 24th, "Paul" calls in, and our heroine works 16 hours straight, from 3 p.m. right through the night. (The next day, she sleeps until 2.) Fortunately, this dedication pays off. In March, she's promoted to "Assistant Personnel Manager." This means that she takes one of the great steps into adulthood: no longer having to write down your work schedule.
The best spring ever: With her new job and her jogging-toned body, Ms. Rockwell is primed to savor the season of rebirth. As soon as the sun comes out, she hits the links at the Indian Hills Country Club, takes up sunbathing (or, as she writes, "sunbath"; she burns herself on occasion), attends weddings ("Bobbie + Dick's"), completes a 10,000-meter run and finds time for a kegger with old friend C.W. (probably not Gusewelle — that would have been a whole different spring). She zips about on a moped and even pioneers an abbreviation for "dinner."
Saturday, March 20: "Met Marino at Main Street Broker for dins."
Work presents new problems. She finds herself in charge of some kind of newspaper, and at the May 3 "Safety Meeting," only four people show up. Reaganomics wasn't making life easier.
May 12: "Braniff closed down — on phone 1 hr. trying to get reservations."
The airline's failure means she must drive to Fort Worth's Colonial Golf Tournament instead of fly there. Heading back on Sunday, May 16, she eats at McDonald's, Pizza Hut and Hardee's and hits that impossible, one-day-only 121 pounds. The next morning, she's back to 117. Still, by the 19th (a ballgame and Fred P. Ott's), she has fought her way down to 114. The next week includes stops at "the [Fiddly] Fig" for plants and the Alameda Plaza Hotel's roof for her mother's birthday dinner, which she describes as "a fun, fun time."
What comes next: In her increasingly detailed entries, Ms. Rockwell makes the spring of 1982 sound like a glorious time to be in Kansas City. Sadly, the summer that follows is not all "fun, fun."
As this year winds on, we plan to update you about all the joy, all the heartbreak and all the Taco Via outings of Ms. Rockwell's 1982. In the meantime, anyone with information concerning the whereabouts of a certain hopeful former assistant personnel manager is encouraged to contact this paper. We hope all is well. Until her identity is revealed — or, for the love of Mike, the full name of this "D" — 112 pounds, Kansas City!Click here for more Studies in Crap.
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