The Stranger Who Changed My Life: A Short Love Story

In this true short love story, a party girl meets her match as she passes through Montana with a traveling show.

by Joni Rodgers | from Reader's Digest Magazine

In 1983, I was traveling with a tiny theater company doing vaudeville-type shows in 
community centers and bars—anywhere we could earn $25 each plus enough gas money to get to the next small town in our ramshackle yellow bus.

As we passed through Bozeman, Montana, in early February, a heavy snow slowed us down. The radio crackled warnings about black ice and poor visibility, so we opted to impose on friends who were doing a production of Fiddler on the Roof at Montana State University. See a show, hit a few bars, sleep on a sofa: This is as close to prudence as it gets when you’re an itinerant 20-something troubadour.

After the show, well-wishers and stagehands milled behind the curtain. I hugged my coat around me, humming that “If I Were a Rich Man” riff from the show, aching for sunrise and sunset, missing my sisters. What a wonderful show that was—and is.

A heavy metal door swung open, allowing in a blast of frigid air, and clanged shut behind two men who stomped snow from their boots. One was big and bearlike in an Irish wool sweater and gaiters; the other was as tall and skinny as a chimney sweep in a peacoat.

“… but I’m just saying, it would be nice to see some serious theater,” one of them said. “Chekhov, Ibsen, anything but this musical comedy shtick.”

“Excuse me?” I huffed, hackles raised. “Anyone who doesn’t think comedy is an art form certainly hasn’t read much Shakespeare, have they?”

I informed them that I was a “professional shticktress” and went on to deliver a tart, pedantic lecture on the French neoclassics, the cultural impact of Punch and Judy as an I Love Lucy prototype, and the importance of Fiddler on the Roof as both artistic and oral history. The shrill diatribe left a puff of frozen breath in the air. I felt my snootiness showing like a stray bra strap as the sweep in the peacoat rolled his eyes and walked away.

The bear stood there for a moment, an easy smile in his brown eyes. Then he put his arms around me and whispered in my ear, “I love you.”

  • Your Comments

    • maria pitbull jen big l

      i dont want to put my family anymore problems than what we already have

    • maria pitbull jen big l

      i just had to tell my story true story thats all period couse no one will listen and belive me even help me its how it is not how u want it to be

    • maria pitbull jen big l

      hi this is a true love story i meet brian deegan founder of metal mulisha throught a good friend named the late jeremy lusk my name is maria its a long story so i make it short when jeremy lusk died my nickname became pitbull that was jeremys lusk nickname it passed it on to me it is what it is not always what u want but its for the better anyway i feel in love with brian deegan i did meet him talked to him some it just happend me falling in love with him i new i coudint tell him this in person because of who he was what he did all that plus he was married and i dont brake marreges up not that way so thought about it and finaly went to his website brian deegan metal mulisha website told him i new his best frien jeremy lusk and about me and other things just wanted him to know how iam couse i am honest dont lie thought nothing bad could happen to me couse i just told the truth that i have never told no one until i went to brian website i didint think nothing of it so before i new it i was arrested handcuffs they even took my comp away old one my dauhter was handcuffed to they scared everyone even my dog took me to jail i was in jail for 6 months gout out but now court made me take meds, have to see my parol officer, take therapy classes among other classes even go to court i turned 52 in jail my nerves , emotions physical is not the same i have been throught alot i could have died my now but becuse i have responsabilytys like been a mother i cant go so i deal with it its hard i cry alot stil confuded were did i go wrong what did i do wrong. i have problems now emotional and paranoid not to mention close afobic were i never had it before this happend even low self estem somtimes i wish i was with my mother in heaven but i cant. told my brother in chile about the case he told me this americans are stuped paranoid and dont know how to communicate i think its true. all this would have never happend if brian deegan would have comunicated with me but no i went to jail for falllling in love with him and i thiought he was my best friend at least i know the truth now hes not my best friend and i no longer in love with him i cant go to his website nothing with him couse i can end up in jail again even this i can go to jail again i came hear this website couse i cant go to his website i must tell my true love story so others can know be carful out there specialy falling in love with famouse pople what can happen now toorrow i have to go to court again who knows what will happen its spooky to me couse i never know if they will put u back in jail or come to your home and take u to jail my nerves are so bad i am not the person i use to be dont even have as much as energy like i use to this is my true love story all because i was in love with him and i thought he was my best friend i know he will never read this couse its not in his websites so he cant see it but at least i said what i had to say couse i have no one to tell who would listen to me and my ex well hes just my ex

    • Travis Woodhouse

      Great story and very well written.

    • j.k. lerroty

      It’s a wonderful story .

    • rehana

      super offer but i need door delivery