Love Notes

Scott Goldstein and Agnes Muller-Goldstein with their children (left to right) Alex, 9, Monica, 3, and Natalie, 6. (Beth Rooney, Chicago Tribune / September 27, 2013)

When you're pining after someone who doesn't return your affection — how long do you keep trying?

Scott Goldstein might be a good man to ask. And maybe Agnes Goldstein as well, considering she's the one who was being pursued by Scott.

Agnes and Scott were undergraduate students at Northwestern University in 1993, both majoring in biology. They had taken some classes together and had mutual friends, but neither had ever spoken to the other.

By the time they were sophomores, Scott knew who Agnes was. And he wanted to get to know her better.

Agnes, meanwhile, had no idea who Scott was. This was obviously something of a problem for Scott, but luck was on his side one summer break. In July 1994, Agnes was visiting a friend in Washington, D.C., and they had arranged to meet some friends from Northwestern to watch the Fourth of July fireworks together. Scott, who was from Maryland, happened to be home for the summer when he discovered that his friends from Northwestern were part of that group. You can bet he decided to join them.

Scott stayed by Agnes' side all night, talking to her.

"I remember thinking I'd ask her out when we got back to school," he recalled, laughing. "In my mind, we were already married."

Agnes, however, was not on the same page.

"I had no idea he was interested in me," she said.

After they returned to NU for junior year, Scott asked his friend to ask Agnes' friend to ask Agnes if she liked him. (This was junior high — er, college, after all.)

The answer was a firm "no."

"I liked him as a friend, but I really wasn't interested in anything more than that," Agnes said.

In fact, their upbringings were dramatically different. Agnes, from the South Shore neighborhood of Chicago, grew up in a very untraditional home. Her parents spoke to her only in German, she didn't have a TV, didn't go to restaurants. On the other side of the spectrum was Scott, raised, he said, like a "straight-up, suburban American kid."

Scott, unfazed, figured he'd give her a little more time to warm up to him. And it couldn't hurt, he also figured, to enlist a little help. Scott knew that Agnes was a runner, but because he is "not one to run unless being chased," he asked his best friend, Anton Cabellon — who also was a runner — to join Agnes in the mornings and talk him up.

(For the record, Anton didn't do this without a fee. "I paid him in Buffalo wings," Scott explained.)

And Scott continued to woo Agnes during regular daytime hours, which did not require him to jog.

Although their friendship flourished over junior year, romance was nowhere in sight, and Scott said he didn't even bother to ask her out.

He remained undeterred, for a variety of reasons. "It wasn't a big deal," Scott explained, laughing. "I didn't have any other romantic possibilities so I continued to hang on."

They did go to a formal dance together, because Agnes needed a date and asked Scott to do the honors. But she made sure — this is going to sound familiar — to tell her friend to tell his friend to tell Scott that this date was not to be viewed as a romantic gesture.

Scott accepted the terms, and didn't even try to kiss her.