New York University Graduation, 1949

Twenty-two year old Albert James Peterson's heart was beating faster than it ever had before. The college president was saying the last words of his speech, and…

"WOOHOO!" All of the students tossed their black caps into the air. Albert's was easy to find. He hadn't wanted to risk contracting head lice or anything like that, so his mother had embroidered "Albert Peterson" on the top. He found it and, grinning, flicked the violet tassel.

"Albert! …Hey, Al!"

He looked up and saw his best friend, Benjamin Smith, in a matching cap and gown.

"Hey, Ben! …We did it!"

"I know, can you believe it?" Benjamin put an arm around his friend. "This is the day our lives officially begin! …Unless you take that half year of additional classes."

"…No," Albert said, "You're right, Ben. My life's finally gonna start now, and once I've got that ten thousand dollars and am on steady ground, I can go get a job teaching without those six extra months!" He sounded confident. Ben smiled at him.

"Of course you can! You've got your master's, that's enough. What's that half year for, again?"

"Just some more courses that are less about actual material and more about working with students."

"You don't need that!" Ben encouraged him.

"Exactly."

"Ten thousand bucks won't be too hard… You'll just have to spend a year or so ticklin' your keys for cash." Ben mimed playing a piano.

"Hotel after hotel," Albert groaned, "Being the classicalpianist at those events, most of them boring, and getting a couple dollars an hour. But if I don't have that safety net by the time I start teaching, Lou and I will starve!"

Benjamin laughed. "Well, as for me, I have a pretty basic plan."

"Do tell."

"Okay, one: Get a job."

Albert chuckled. "Well, of course."

"Two: Raise enough money to move out of that rat's nest I call an apartment!"

"I'm with you on that one!"

Counting off on his fingers, Ben continued, "Three: Get a better job. Because you know me, I'll probably be tired of the first one after a while."

"You know I'm with you on that. I'll be going from 'key tickling' to teaching. What a difference."

"And four: Find myself a girl! Preferably one that my mother disapproves of," he joked.

Albert shook his head. "I would never dream of doing that."