Her name was Linda; petite, porcelain, dirty blonde, slightly jaded just as I. In a twist of circumstances, she was more to me than a show piece. At a fork in the road, a new life lesson; things aren’t always what they appear to be.
Like those who’d gone before her, it was her who had found me;
I never chased. But I quickly hungered for her. I found solace in simple gestures…holding hands, a stolen kiss in the high school hallway, a walk under the downtown bridge to kick clam shells and sip cheap whiskey. Her voice was a soft song in my ears; it didn’t really matter what she said; her tone was playful and gentle, her words dancing off of her tongue like a delicate Mozart Minuet. Some girls just have it, whatever “it” is. Or perhaps the “it” factor is merely a man’s mind ignoring what isn’t “it” in a woman. Her tight Levis and tiny shirts perfected her, though I swore to myself I’d wait if need be, to unwrap my gift.
It wasn’t a long affair, and there’s a reason for that. To say that I knew anything about love is to say that Cupid should be Pope. To say that I knew how to read people is to assume I knew anything at all about my own tangled mind. To say that I should have seen this one coming…well, I won’t say it, thank you.
What should have been the beginning was the end. Two months into our affair, we found ourselves sitting at her house on a school night, somehow suddenly struggling to make conversation while her TV set babbled for no-one. I tried:
“That new Warrant album…sweet eh?”
“Uh-huh.” She was blank and fixed on the TV.
“Man, McMillan’s a royal bitch! I hate English class!”
Three hours! Three hours, each minute more painful than the last. Each minute saw me scrape my mind for new small talk, the usual flow of our dialogue now suspended in unfamiliar, awkward silence. What had happened?
I eyed her with animal instinct. Her perfume was almost narcotic in its pull. Her bra strap peered out from a loose fitting shirt, inviting me into its sacred purpose. A pair of breasts is the ultimate symbol of life, of love and sweet longing! A pair of breasts could start a war and stop it again! Give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day. Teach him to fish, he’ll eat for a lifetime. Show a man a healthy rack, he’ll forget that he was hungry in the first place!
I wanted to explore her secret places, invade her outright! But I swore to be a gentleman. This could be love. Love could take offense to such a strong front. But are there really any gentlemen in the world, or are we simply patient hunters, becoming ever more refined at getting what we want, whether flesh or immaterial pursuits?
She didn’t want a gentleman. She really had no use for love. She knew too well that beginnings usually had endings; that a hello was almost always followed by a goodbye. Nothing was certain, nothing was safe. Her dad had left, and so would every man. Men were for fun…like carnival rides; enjoy them, squeeze out every thrill, move on.
She moved on. My sincerest moment to date, my utter resistance to self-seeking was dropped like an unused ticket. She went so far as to offer me no parting words, no explanation, underlining her contempt that I hadn’t given her what she’d came for. I left the awkward evening with a quick unnecessary kiss and relief that I was leaving. I heard the news that it was over from a friend of hers the following day:
“You never made a move on her, silly man! Are you afraid or something? Do I have to show you how it’s done?” Her adorable and devilish friend spelled it out for me behind an old church hall,
finding her way down my front side with warm, experienced hands and a playful giggle. She brought me to full attention:
“How do you like those bananas?”
I allowed the hormonal heat of the moment, which continued at her house.
Afterward, a new feeling. A strange, uneasy, subtle self-loathing. Between the two women, I was merely a toy, a carnival ride. My Romeo had been duped. Lesson learned. It was inevitable that the user was used at last. It was simply time for the champ to take a knockout punch. I didn’t complain too loudly about the sudden sting on my heart; I didn’t want the unseen forces that had changed my game to deal me another bad card. I thanked the fates for dirty school girls and carried on. Of course, youth is a fleeting thing, and lessons are often fumbled during the race. When you’re young, you tend to laugh at time. As you age, time tends to laugh back. Lessons are learned best when we look behind us.
That said, there was a new love waiting for me on the outer edges of my horizon; a love that would deal me a trump card and close the table for all time.