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I Dated a Dallas Cowboy!
And that almost brought down the country club. We shouldn’t have stopped there. It was Las Colinas in Irving, Texas, and I think my dad paid hell for it afterwards. He never said a word. He was cool like that. But, later I realized that in all those years I went there to swim or play tennis, I never saw a black member.
Jimmy Dean (sausage company) walked up to me and whispered “watch out for yourself girl”, and I knew what he meant. Then he shook my date’s hand and gushed out compliments, questions, and information about him to the point that we both looked at each other quizzically.
You see, my date was black and I was white, white, white. It wasn’t until he was identified as one of the Doomsday Defenders that the stunned stares stopped. The women just gave me hateful looks until they realized who he was, and then it died down a bit.
We met at a restaurant called Biff’s and later met at the Byron Nelson Golf Tournament. I was Miss Irving. He was Mr. Everything. Everyone wanted to touch him: shake his hand, pat his back, have their picture taken. We both had braces.
“There’s a Dallas Cowboy in the lobby!” a girl shouted as she walked into the shared bathroom in my dorm at SMU where I was a student. I knew he was there for me but they didn’t. “Guess who’s in the hall!” announced another student as she entered.
By the time I took the elevator to the lobby, a crowd had gathered. They parted like the Red Sea when they saw him smiling and reaching out. It was magical and I was bombarded with questions for weeks afterwards.
He invited me to a charity event sponsored by the dairy company that had just signed him as spokesperson. I couldn’t believe it. For a few hours we mixed with Roger Staubach, Coach Tom Landry, ‘Hollywood’ Henderson, Ed ‘Too Tall’ Jones and even Tony Dorsett. Charlie Waters and his wife Rosie looked ready to be photographed for Town & Country, each more attractive than the next.
But it was the Dallas Cowboys and they were invincible: New Stadium. Super Bowl victory. The America team. They were in top form and everyone knew it.
He picked me up from my dorm and drove me to the smallest sports car I’ve ever ridden in. I am 1m80 barefoot and that night I was wearing heels. He eclipsed me again.
We had such a great time that night. Then we stopped at a club in Addison where the waitress brought a cup of hot chocolate before we could order. None of us drank and he was known there so they just took care of him. We shared this drink by passing it back and forth and talking. He had no idea how exciting it was for me to meet Tom Landry who was a living legend.
He called several times after that but I never went out with him again. I was trying to acclimate to a very difficult college and it took all my attention. Then I went to England to study and lost track of him. He was a special person and I had only had one date before him and it was my prom where my best friend Barry Banks had to convince someone to take me.
I was a geek—tall, skinny, and wearing headgear at 17. (thanks dad, that’s how they made Ugly Betty ugly!) I wasn’t a cheerleader. I was one of the editors of the school newspaper and vice-president of my class. Then I was invited by this superstar and had the night of my life. I still cherish the memory, but not of the looks and judgmental looks I received from women, not men. They gave me visual hell.
Racism is not what is said or done; it is the feeling. No one needed to say a word about how they felt seeing a “mixed” couple. I felt the energy of the looks and the judgment mixed in them.
I have never been a racist and I hope never to be taken for a racist. I appreciate the differences and similarities of each ethnic group and don’t think acknowledging them is offensive. My date was a perfect gentleman and we spent an elegant evening together. I wouldn’t trade the memory for anything.
Thank you Harvey Martin and may you rest in peace, (Pancreas cancer took his life at 51)
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