That's the Gore-y of love Parody: Erich Segal's 'Love Story' could have had a very different ending.

December 18, 1997|By Ken Fuson | Ken Fuson,SUN STAFF

"LOVE STORY: Al and Tipper Gore were the real-life models fo Erich Segal's best seller."

-- Time magazine

"Author Erich Segal told the New York Times that he was "befuddled" by the comments published in Time magazine last week. He said he called Gore, and the vice president said it was a misunderstanding."

-- Associated Press

Let's clear this up. Reached in his Manhattan townhouse, where he is at work on a new book, "Robert James Waller Owes Me Big-Time," author Segal acknowledged that the Gores were the inspiration for a final chapter of "Love Story" that was lost and never published. Segal discovered it recently under a pile of unsold "Oliver's Story" videos. It is presented here for the first -- and presumably last -- time.


It was cold. I was lonely.

Jenny, sweet Jenny, my potty-mouthed Radcliffe wife, had been dead six months. We gave her the full Catholic send-off. Phil, her father, was pleased.

I was still in New York, working for Jonas and Marsh, the big law firm, fulfilling my father's dream. But I was numb, aimless, taken to late-night wanderings through this cold, lonely city.

Record stores were favorite haunts. I killed a lot of time there in the early days, mindlessly flipping through albums, wondering what would become of me.

"Naughty, naughty."

I turned around. Standing before me was this vision. Hair as blonde as corn silk. Cheeks as full as a cartoon chipmunk's. Just cute as a bug's ear.

She held out her hand.

"Call me Tripper."

"Tripper? What kind of name is that?"

"My parents thought Timothy Leary was a hoot. But that's not the right question. The right question is, what's an obviously intelligent -- although admittedly stiff and formal -- man doing, flipping through those filthy records? Don't you know Frank Zappa uses naughty words?"

"I wasn't paying atten..."

"Well, Peppy, it's time you did. If we're going to start dating, you're going to have to pay attention to dirty lyrics. There ought to be warning labels on records like that."

Dating? I wondered just who the heck she thought she was, talking to Oliver Barrett IV that way.

"Just who the heck do you think you are, talking to Oliver Barrett IV that way?"

She giggled.

"Such a pretentious name. How are you ever going to get elected president with that kind of name?"

"Now just a gol-darned minute." We said gol-darned in Tennessee, where I was from. "Who said anything about being president? And why are you calling me Peppy?"

"You prefer Preppie? You have so much to learn. Now are you going to ask me out or do I have to do it myself?"

I was stunned. The nerve of her. She was impossible, yet irresistible.

"Can I buy you a cup of coffee?" I finally asked.

"Sure, Ollie."

"I'll tell you what. Forget Ollie. You can call me Al."

We bought a Paul Simon record and left.

She ordered a mocha latte. I had hot chocolate. Mocha latte makes my hands shake.

Tripper was everything I wasn't -- spontaneous, loose, carefree. I was smitten.

"You're smitten, aren't you, Peppy?" she asked.

"How did you do that?"

"Do what?"

"Read my mind like that?"

"This is an Erich Segal novel, remember."

We snickered like a sitcom audience. Tripper then turned serious, staring at me as if she could tap into my cold, lonely soul.

"There's a lot I can teach you, Peppy."

"Like what?"

"I'll teach you how to dance the macarena, just as soon as it's invented. I'll teach you how to become the second most powerful man in the United States. I'll teach you how to take advantage of your connections with former Arkansas governors and best-selling authors and Academy Award-winning actors."

Again, she floored me. "You know that Tommy Lee Jones was my college roommate?"

She batted her girl-next-door eyelashes. "I know everything, Al. Except this: What do you care about? Really, really care about?"

I answered in a heartbeat.



"Yes, trees."

"Any particular kind of trees?"

"Big trees, small trees, trees you can hang a tire from. Evergreens, weeping willows, big strapping redwoods. You know, Tripper, Earth hangs in the balance. We could save the environment if only we could get people interested in trees."

I had her. She didn't know what to say. Her eyes twinkled like Christmas lights.

"Trees, huh? OK, we can work with that. Forget the law. No lawyer ever amounted to anything. You're going into politics."

"Not me, Tripper."

"Why not?"

"There's a skeleton in my closet -- tobacco. My family used to grow it. No voter will stand for it."

Tripper laughed.

"Don't be silly. This is a new age. Just tell America you're sorry."

"Jenny always said love means never having to say you're sorry."

"Forgive me, Al, but Jenny never had to scrape up 270 electoral votes. We'll put you on 'Oprah,' just as soon as she's invented. You can cry your eyes out."

She was rolling.

"You've said it yourself, I think -- 'When caution breeds timidity, a good politician listens to other voices.' Listen to me, Al. Let's get married."


"I'm serious, Peppy."

"Tripper, that's ridiculous. Where could we get married at this time of night?"

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