It was around 12pm on a Saturday and Gideon was on his way to Oxford to pick up Chelsey. They were going to Hollywood Bowl to bowl and to have something to eat afterwards. He was really looking forward to that and was relieved that Ruth didn’t seem to mind.
“I don’t mind being alone,” she assured him. “I’ll just relax in front of the fire with a good book. Have fun. Give Chelsey a hug for me.”
“I will,” Gideon promised and then, he got ready and left.
Chelsey was waiting for him in front of the university. She smiled brightly when she saw his car and she hurried towards it. “Hello,” she said when she got into the car.
Gideon smiled. “Hello.” They hugged.
“It’s a beautiful day although a bit windy. How was your week?”
“It was busy but good. How about yours?”
“It seemed to drag because I had today to look forward to.”
“I know what you mean.”
“She’s fine. She asked me to give you a hug.”
“Oh. Was the hug you gave me from her or from you?”
“From me. I’ll give you her hug later.”
“How is the Oxford Newcomers’ Club coming along?”
“It’s coming along fine. On January 17th, we will be visiting the Natural History Museum. It’s from 11am to 12pm and we have option to have lunch together afterwards. Admission to the museum is free. We meet outside the entrance. The Head of Education and Learning at the museum will give us a “hands on” introduction to the interesting collections in the museum. Have you ever been to the museum?”
“Yes, a few times. I particularly liked the paintings, sculpture, architecture and decoration and the Life specimens and paleontology collections.”
“I’d like to see those collections.”
“Perhaps you will see some of them when you go on the 17th.”
“Well, I’ll let you know which of them we saw.”
When they were stopped at the traffic light, he turned to her and said quietly, “Chelsey, I wanted to thank you again for taking such good care of me when I was in bed with a bug.”
She swallowed hard. “You’re welcome, Gideon.”
“You gave up going to your uncle Ross’s New Year’s Eve party just to stay home and look after me.”
“I wouldn’t have had a good time any way, thinking of you at home, sick with a cold.”
“I will always appreciate you for what you did.”
The traffic light changed and he proceeded through the intersection. Five minutes later, they were pulling into the parking lot of the bowling alley. Chelsey got out of the car and waited for him while he got his bowling bag from the back seat. They went inside. Chelsey watched him bowl and then he gave her the ball so that she could bowl as well. When she made a strike, she squealed with delight making Gideon laugh.
After they finished bowling, they spent at least an hour playing Arcade games and shooting pool. It was a lot of fun. They leave the area and went to the diner. They ordered chicken burgers with fries and Vanilla milkshakes. “The burger, the fries and the shake are really good,” Chelsey said.
“Yes, they are,” Gideon agreed. “Of course, this means that I will have to go to the gym tomorrow or for a jog to keep my gut down.”
“I’m sure it will take more than one burger, fries and one shake to make you put on a little weight around your middle.”
“Perhaps you’re right. You don’t have to worry about gaining weight.”
“I have a very high metabolism, I guess and I’m active. I go for long walks, jogging and play Korfball.”
“Yes. It’s is the Dutch cousin of Basketball and Netball. It’s a mixed sport which involves a lot of teamwork. Height doesn’t matter although I’m tall. Movement with the ball isn’t as limited as with Netball. One day, I was invited by another student to try Korfball. I did and I loved it and now I’m a member of the Club.”
“I hope I get to see you play Korfball one of these days.”
“You probably will because they usually have tournaments and Varsity matches each year. This shouldn’t come as any surprise to you but I’m also a member of Oxford’s Equestrian Club. It’s great for because I can ride, something I missed terribly when I moved on to the campus.”
“I’m happy to hear that you’re so involved in university life. When I was at Oxford, I was in a few clubs too–the Association Football Club because I played Futsal; Fencing, Floorball, Squash and Rowing.”
“Futsal is football played on a hard court and mainly indoors.”
“It’s a type of indoor/floor hockey.”
“Sounds very interesting. How did you like Fencing?”
“I liked it very much because it involved a combination of excellent footwork and fast and accurate blade work.”
“Every time I think of Fencing, I remember the scene with James Bond and the villain in Die Another Day.”
Gideon chuckled. “Believe me, Fencing wasn’t that exciting when I did it.”
“I was thinking of playing Polo but I’m not sure. I don’t want to be too active when I have my studies.”
“My advice to you is not to be involved in too many sports/activities or you’ll risk a burnout. I wasn’t in more than two clubs per year.”
“I may take up Polo but not right now.”
“Good call. Have you decided which area of study you’re interested in?”
“Yes, I have. English Language and Literature. The course give me the chance to study writing in English from its origins in Anglo-Saxon England to the present.”
“Sounds like the perfect area of study for you. And career wise, what are your options?”
“My options are the law, advertising, acting, publishing, politics, teaching, librarianship, public relations, journalism, writing, further research, management consultancy and finance. I’m interested in publishing.”
“Well, after you graduate, you can always work with me as a permanent fulltime member of the staff.”
“I would love that.”
“Before I take you back to the university, I thought that we could spend a little while in the park,” Gideon said as they walked to his car.
“I’d like that very much,” Chelsey said.
There were no public parking facilities at University Parks so Gideon parked on St. Giles street and they walked to the park. They found the J.R.R. Tolkien bench and sat down. It was a bit breezy but not cold. “Did you know that it took Tolkien By the time it was eventually finished, Lord of the Rings had taken Tolkien 12 full years to write and another five to get published?”
Chelsey shook her head. “No, I didn’t know that. He’s one of my favorite authors.”
“Did he write other books beside Lord of the Rings?”
“Yes, he has written, Sir Gawain & The Green Knight, Farmer Giles of Ham, Smith of Wootton Major, Mr. Bliss, Roverandom, The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún and The Fall of Arthur.”
“Do you have any of those books?”
“I have all of them. Would you like to borrow them?”
She nodded. “Yes.”
“All right. I’ll bring them with me the next time I come to Oxford.”
“Gideon, may I ask you a personal question?”
“Do you regret not having any children of your own?”
“I used to but I don’t anymore.”
“If you had married another woman, younger, you would have had your own children instead of being a father to another man’s daughter.”
Gideon covered her hand which was resting on the bench between them. “Chelsey, I don’t have any regrets where you’re concerned. I’m very lucky to have you in my life. I know that when I first married your mother, you resented me but we’ve become very close. I wouldn’t give up our relationship for anything in the world.”
Chelsey smiled, her eyes welling with tears which she blinked away. “I’m sorry I was so much trouble for you.”
“That’s all in the past.”
She nodded and turned her head away. “I love you, Gideon,” she mumbled.
“And I love you, Chelsey.” He gently squeezed her hand, his facial emotions fathomable as he studied her.
Sources: History Extra; Tolkien Society