Tuesday, February 08, 2005


Love's Labour Lost and Found (A Random Anecdote)

For those of you just tuning in, I can't seem to shut up about the great (and small) loves of my life. Having started with Liz and Maryanne and continued with Robin, and, uh, some more Robin, we're finally seeing some action as our hero, age 16, finds himself in the wilds of northern New England, in a town of less than 200 people, with nobody else his age to hang out with except Gina, his comely and, it must be said, well-constructed high school crush, who has come to visit him for a month.

Finally, oh thank you God, FINALLY, our hero has gotten over himself and kissed the girl. As the young couple stands on the sun-dappled shores of a pristine lake, he delivers a line that for the next 20 years no one will believe he had the presence of mind to utter at 16 (but he did, oh yes, he said every word) and summons the nerve to pucker up. In his passion, our hero leans in too far, loses his balance, and falls face-first into the lake. It was embarrassing. It was an accident. But it was the best accident of his young life...

Right, so we'll just let that sink in for a moment.

At the time, I remember looking on our afternoons alone like we were on a desert island. It did seem like we were the only two people in the world, and that was just fine with me. The reader will note that I am absenting any specific details, not because they're particularly sordid (if you must know, it was pretty innocent teenage clinching and groping) but just because when I think back on that time, it's not really what happened that I remember, but how I felt. I was just happy. Things seemed to have clicked into place. Up until that point, all my crushes and puppy loves had been juvenile things. Now, I had a real girlfriend 'n stuff.

A couple weeks later, Gina and her mom went home and we had a pretty interesting exchange of letters, the high point of which was the letter she sent telling me she loved me, a letter I still have somewhere, and which I still remember reading over and over in a state of total bliss.

And then I returned from New England to begin my senior year of high school and it all went to hell in a handbasket.

Where to begin? Well, for starters, the girlfriend thing never really happened, not with Gina, not after that summer. When I arrived back home, I learned that in a post-idyll-in-New-England attack of guilt, Gina went back to her college-bound boyfriend, who for the rest of the year could be counted on to turn up pretty much every weekend and holiday that I wanted to be with Gina (which was all of them). I had, you might say, a problem with that.

Then there was the Underclassman, this junior who started hitting on Gina and whose attentions Gina found flattering, so the next thing I know they're canoodling at the Saturday night dance (the one weekend College Guy wasn't in town, natch) while I'm stuck at home, fuming. I also had a problem with that.

But, but this summer, we... I thought. But, but that letter... I thought. I never got a straight answer about what had changed. So I got fed up and washed my hands of her. I quietly resolved to keep my distance. Several times, in fact. See, it was tough because whenever the College Guy wasn't around, Gina would come back, all goo-goo eyes and flirty. And well, good God, I'm just a guy, you know? And back then, just a 16-year-old guy, at that. Self-respect? Dignity? Sometimes I had it. Mostly, not so much. Eventually, I had to face up to the truth that, with her steady squeeze gone, she wanted to play the field, and I was just another chalky white line in the turf.

It came down to this: I was NEVER going to get back to that brilliant summer, that first kiss. Once that realization sank in (and I'm embarrassed to say it was a long time sinking in), I realized that Gina was a bad habit I needed to give up.

It was awkward, though. Our moms were still good friends so we were constantly thrown together. And I think Gina was a decent enough person to feel bad about pinballing between me and her significant other, but couldn't quite help herself. I think she spent a lot of that winter feeling lonely and genuinely missing me. To make matters worse, it wasn't like I had anyone else interested in ME (or so I thought), so I was lonely too. But I resisted, survived a season of great temptation, and am so glad I did.

It helped that I kept myself busy in school, particularly extracurricular stuff, like drama club. At Christmas, I was cast in the lead role of one of three plays that were put on for the school and alumni. There was a little awards ceremony after the plays and a panel of audience judges awarded me the best actor prize, which was cool. More interesting was the fact that one of the judges was the guy who directed the school musicals. He knew me because for three years I had been the All Purpose Guy during the musicals: I worked lights, I painted scenery, I helped the real actors run through their lines, and even occasionally got cast in crowd scenes on stage. "Why have you never tried out for a lead in any of my musicals?" he demanded.

"I can't sing," I said.

"Sing Jingle Bells with me," he said. I was full of adrenaline from being on stage and winning the award and all, so I belted out the song, and only after I finished did I realize he had stopped singing it with me after "Dashing through the snow..."

"See you at rehearsal," he said.

And just like that, I was cast as one of three male leads in the school musical.

I mention my thespian career, such as it was, because (and you could probably see this coming) Gina was cast as the sole female lead (oh, Fate thy fickle thumbnail is sharp!), and suddenly it was as though art was trying to imitate my life of the previous few months, as the male leads, on stage (and sometimes off) tried to curry her favor.

As amusing as these little twists seem now, at the time I was in a high state of perturbation. How had my life turned into such a frigging soap opera? Was I never going to pull myself free of Gina's orbit? Couldn't I just have a girlfriend without all the asinine complications?

As it turned out, the resolution to these questions was not long in coming. Because somewhere in the middle of this, right smack in the proverbial Thick Of Things, I began to notice Patty...

I knew a couple 'Ginas' in highschool. We had a different name for them though.

You just love to keep the reader hanging doncha?
You are certainly giving me some perspective here on what my son is/will be going through over the next 3 years (he's a freshman)

You were saying...I began to notice Patty.......

It's refreshing to see someone actually stand up for themselves for a change, even if, as you said, it made you feel "lonely." I've put up with enough "Ginas" in my life, and I can see where you're coming from.

Hey, excellent stories. I'm looking forward to reading more of them.

"Games are for Children"
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?