LOVE AT FIRST STICK: The love story of Tamara Blum & Al Bennett

By Tamara Blum – Special to The Chronicle

While in college I worked as a phlebotomist (a tech that draws blood) at a plasma donor center on campus at the University of Missouri, Columbia. A coworker and I would direct each other to prospective donors that we thought were cute. Al came in for the preliminary blood draw screening and my coworker, Ron, passed his chart to me saying, “he has veins like copper tubing.”
We flirted some, or at least I did. When Al came back for his first plasma donation, I made sure I got his chart. I stuck the needle in his arm, and, once it was in place, I told him to holler if he needed anything. He asked, “What’s your name?” I told him and walked a few steps away and he yelled “TAMARA!” Startled, I rushed back and he said “Just checking,” with a great big smile. It was love at first stick!
When he came to donate plasma, we would talk and flirt but he never asked me out. After winter break, like a lot of other students, he didn’t come back. My boss had us going through the charts to recall those that did not return. I noticed that Al’s chart was not in the mix. I asked my boss why and she said his phone number was not in the chart. I went to the university directory, found his number and put it in his chart to be in the recall pile.
When he came back, we continued to flirt but he still didn’t ask me out. Towards the end of the school year, I planned a softball game for a bunch of friends. That day it was raining. I went to the park shelter to meet people to direct them back to my apartment for Plan B, a game of Trivial Pursuit. When I got to the park, Al was the first one there and he helped me bring the party to my apartment.
We picked partners for Trivial Pursuit and I made sure that Al was my partner. There were so many players that we had to make paper “pies” for the game pieces. I think there were probably eight to 10 teams playing. You could leave for a half an hour or more before it was your turn. Ultimately we won the game!!
We won in many more ways! We’ve been together ever since. We celebrated our 30th anniversary last September.