“We always meet in the middle,” Jan-Erik told the Soupster, as the two waited at the soda fountain for milk shakes. “That’s the secret to my marriage. Me and Dolly, always in the middle.”
“You two do seem happy,” the Soupster conceded.
“Well, don’t say that like it is a foul thing,” laughed Jan-Erik.
A group of eight or so boarding school students studying here from way north of Our Town pressed by the Soupster. He and Jan-Erik and murmured to each other as they pored over the menu and chose shakes and sundaes. Nodding at the small, but growing crowd, the two men shot each other looks that said “I’m glad my order is already in.”
As far as the students hailed from, it was not as far as Jan-Erik Lajunen, who in his 20’s moved to Our Town all the way from Finland. A handyman at first, he stepped into the historic role of carpenter, then home builder – as other Finns had plied their trade to the Russians long ago. Jan-Erik was intensely interested in the downtown street Finn Alley and would walk its short (and one-way) length seeing if he could pick up any vibrations from the past.
Dolly was born in Our Town – that is, Dalisay Bahaghari was. Everybody called her Dolly, except her parents. Mr. and Mrs Bahaghari, very traditional, had insisted that for the wedding Jan-Erik wear a barong Tagalog, a Filipino dress shirt that was worn untucked. At the nuptials, Jan-Eriks red-blonde hair on his long neck sticking out of the barong’s low collar gave the impression of a nervous rooster.
“How’s the latest project?” the Soupster asked.
“Four new houses out toward the old mill site,”’ said Jan-Erik. “The new California yogurt kingpin wanted a big house out there. I decided building four was as easy as building one in some ways.”
“Like repeating yourself four times,” said the Soupster.
“Not exactly,” said Jan-Erik. “The three others are quite a bit smaller.”
“I decided the name of the road,” he continued. “I chose Dailsay Court, after Dolly. Her name means `Pure’ in Tagalog. Dolly wanted to name the street Bahaghari Court, which means `Rainbow.’ I thought `Pure Rainbow Court’ was too much name. We met in the middle.”
“The secret of your marriage?”
“Yes,” Jan-Erik said. “Her family is from the Philippines and mine’s from Finland. We’ve been meeting in the middle from the moment we met.”