“When is Patty coming to cook us dinner?” I asked Robert as he rushed through the front door into our Berkeley apartment.
“Haven’t you heard?” he gasped. “Patty has been kidnapped!”
“I heard something about a kidnapping. What does that have to do with dinner?”
Robert flicked on the TV and turned to the news channel. A picture appeared of Robert’s lab partner in Zoology, a petite art history major who had been too squeamish to dissect a shark. Robert had to do all the lab work and tutor her so she could pass the class. Patty had promised to cook us dinner that night to thank Robert. Her familiar ordinary face did not belong on TV. Then the dots connected. Hearst Ave, Auditorium, Greek Theatre, Castle, Patty Hearst!
“That Patty is our Patty? I asked, in a state of numb disbelief.
Robert nodded grimly as we listened to the reporter. “The kidnappers fired guns while locking the struggling, blindfolded Hearst into the trunk of their car. The kidnappers, a counterculture guerrilla group named the Symbionese Liberation Army, are demanding that Hearst’s family donate food to all needy California families. Her father, San Francisco Examiner publisher Randolph Hearst, is mounting a multi-million dollar Bay Area food give-away program.”
“I already donated fifty dollars,” Robert said.
“I guess dinner is off,” I sighed.
Two months later, the television showed Patty robbing a bank in San Francisco. She had changed her name to “Tania” and joined the SLA.
“I want my fifty dollars back!” Robert complained.
The court later convicted Patty of bank robbery and sentenced her to 35 years in prison. After serving 22 months, President Carter commuted her sentence and Clinton eventually pardoned her.
Forty years later, I saw Patty again on the TV. She appeared on the Larry King show promoting her book and answering questions from viewers. I thought about calling to remind Patty that she still owed us dinner. While I deliberated whether to call, however, the window of opportunity passed.
~ By H. Joseph Horacek (San Francisco)