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Cheesy, or Just a Romantic at Heart? and Women Welders of the World Unite!

Cheesy, or Just a Romantic at Heart?
By Michelle Gee (NA)

So it must have been cosmic. I had an interview on Thursday and the interviewer asked me if I’d ever had Schropfer cheese. Yes, I realize this in and of itself is an odd interview question, but we’ll leave that to another Intraview. I didn’t think I had ever had that particular bleu, but the name sounded really familiar. Then I realized I was scheduled for an Intraview with one Monsieur Schropfer on Saturday.
I got the job offer (yes!), but whether the other Schropfer encounter would end as successfully was still up in the air. Ladies, the man is tall, not quite dark, but definitely handsome. And he must have sisters or something, being wise enough to call 15 minutes before we were supposed to meet, suggesting we meet 10 minutes later than planned, AND building in an assumption that I would probably be five minutes late. Perfect.

Man aside, the scallops at Jimmy’s Harborside Restaurant were excellent. Unfortunately, they were Frank’s entr‚e. But gentleman that he is, he didn’t notice – well, he didn’t comment on – the purloined shellfish. But not only had Frank arranged fresh seafood and a waterfront table, he also knew someone who knew Jimmy, the restaurant’s current proprietor and grandson of the namesake, this meant that after dinner, we were treated to a personalized tour of the restaurant’s kitchens, including the 50-gallon soup vats with correspondingly large whisks.

Trust me, to two engineers, this was exciting stuff, though I would venture that Frank was slightly more excited than I was. Luckily, it turns out we had more in common than just engineering degrees. We both shun sour cream and mayo, but will do butter and mustard. (Though not necessarily at the same time). We don’t really like golf, but we’ll play, sort of. He likes to drive the cart. Other dinner conversation ranged from cows and sheep to fly fishing and hiking to welding and milling, again not at the same time. And Prof. Christensen would be proud, we even managed to touch on OnStar and the quality manufacturing of GM’s classic Cadillac Deville. Dinner ended with an amazing view of the harbor as the snow started to fall, reminding me of the night fog rolling in over San Francisco. Sigh. It’s a California thing.

Given that neither one of us is from Boston, we were fortunate to find a cab driver who knew “Little Italy” and the “North Side” meant the “North End,” and “dessert” meant “Hanover St.” While the pastry shop the driver originally suggested turned out to be too busy, Caf‚ Vittorio was happy enough to serve us “di best” tiramisu in town.

We rolled back home after midnight to find the campus blanketed with the season’s first snowfall as lights twinkled from the buildings. A beautiful end to a beautiful evening. Indeed, I’ll never be able to walk
past a cheese store in quite the same way.

Women Welders of the World Unite!
By Frank Schropfer (NH)

For me, this date was a series of firsts: the first time I’d met Michelle, the first time I’d agreed to a blind date, the first time I’d seen a restaurant kitchen in action, and the first time I’d broken my rule about discussing farm animals on a first date. Because Michelle’s class card listed food as an interest, I suggested that we take a “backstage” tour of Jimmy’s Harborside Restaurant led by the owner, manager, and head chef, Jimmy Doulos Jr. Including ballrooms, Jimmy’s can seat 500 people, so I expected a huge kitchen with lots of excitement, a nice complement to seafood with a harbor view.
Michelle looked great when we met at the SFP taxi stand. After exchanging a nervous greeting, we jumped into a cab and headed downtown. Conversation came easily and we quickly exchanged the typical HBS “nice to meet you” resumes. By the time we got to Jimmy’s, we were more comfortable.

Jimmy didn’t know anything about either of us except that he and I had a mutual friend and that Michelle would be writing publicly about our date. To my relief, he personally met us in the bar. He then led us to the best table, ensuring special attention for us.

As we enjoyed scallops and salmon, it began to snow. Some nights are pretty much made for first dates, and this was one of them. Michelle and I joked, told stories, and watched snowflakes fall onto the foggy harbor, which glowed from distant lights. Maybe the intimate setting made us feel a bit too comfortable around each other, but the conversation quickly turned to more interesting topics like farm animals and welding. Here, for the first time, we found something we didn’t agree on.
Michelle thinks sheep are “cute” and “cuddly.” I have a healthy hatred for the dimwitted prairie lice. Maybe they are “cuter” in England, but in Wyoming, they are dirty, noisy, obnoxious creatures. Although I wasn’t too surprised that she was animal lover, I was shocked when I next learned that the petite, smiling, creative, attractive lady across the table from me was an expert welder. Apparently, she had often bartered her welding skills for study notes at Stanford.

When the meal was over, we followed Jimmy on an tour of the kitchen. We saw huge stoves, buckets of live lobsters, and even a 70-gallon soup kettle that could heat to a boil in less than 10 minuets. While Jimmy explained how things worked, servers and chiefs raced around us.

After the tour, Jimmy’s limo took us to the North End for tiramisu and cappuccinos. I guess it would be impossible to have a bad date in a small Italian caf‚ while snow slowly falls outside, but Michelle’s quick humor made it perfect. Around midnight, we headed home.

It was a night of firsts, but there may be a second. I have an in: Michelle tactfully mentioned that she’d like to help me clothes shop. My fashion sense aside, I had a great blind date!

January 14, 2002
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