I’m sitting here at the corner of Memory Lane and Humiliation Avenue, wondering: Is there no statute of limitations on dumb things you’ve done?
The Friday before Christmas I had lunch with a guy from my old high school crowd. He graduated a year ahead of me, and I hadn’t seen him since Commencement, but I had good memories of working together on plays when we were in school. So when this blog generated an invitation to get together for lunch, it seemed like a nice opportunity to reminisce about old times and catch up on where we are today.
And it started off like that. Over salad combos at a local deli, we talked about who we kept in touch with, and who we’d love to hear from but hadn’t. He told me about a theater project he’d just finished and I chatted about the Chronicles, laughing over my husband’s refusal to talk to me in bed the other night, because, he said, “Everything I say winds up on your blog.”
I expected a laugh on that, but just got an odd look, and, “You put some pretty personal stuff out there.”
As I finished off my couscous and tomatoes, though, the conversation took a strange turn.
Did I remember, he asked, the evening during my senior year when I came over to his house and we almost, ah...?
I looked at him and memory came flooding back, along with a rush of color to my face.
Yes, I said warily, I remembered. Why?
Because, he said, he’d always been curious as to what happened that evening and why we didn’t….
And I realized one of the things I really hate about hot flashes is that they feel way too much like the way you blush when you’re really embarrassed. And wondered what would happen if I just got up and ran out the door. But when you’re of an age to compare hot flashes with all-over blushes, you don’t really do that any more. So I just said, “Oh?”
And he said that he’d thought things were going okay, and then all of a sudden I sort of withdrew, and then I acted like I was mad at him, and he’d never really understood what went wrong.
Well, I said, it’s been thirty-five years….
And you’ve never thought about it since then?
Not for at least thirty or so….
Because, he said, he’d been thinking a lot lately about various relationships of his that had gone sour, and he’d wound up feeling like a jerk that night, and he needed closure.
Ouch. Who among us women can resist the siren call of closure?
So, I folded my hands in my lap, thinking, I cannot even freaking believe I’m having this conversation, gave one last wistful thought to escape, and said, Well, since this seems to be something you need, let’s see what I can recall.
Here’s the really bad thing, though. It was at this exact point that I started thinking about what a hilarious blog this would make.
His recollection, he said, was that I had engineered the whole situation in the first place….
And suddenly it was 1971, and I was seventeen again, with a major crush on an older boy. And a bookworm who’d read far too many romance novels about men who fell in love with girls who gave them the priceless gift of themselves. Not to mention endlessly curious about a topic that the preceding decade of Free Love made even more ubiquitous than it is today, if that’s even possible.
At some point during the preliminaries, though, the voice of reason (which sounded suspiciously like my mother’s) pointed out that this wasn’t going to wind up anyplace I’d like. And, it added, you’ll get pregnant.
Sitting across from him in the deli, I tried to explain some of this, but his expression mirrored nothing but confusion.
But we weren’t even dating, he pointed out. How could you think that was going to turn into a relationship?
Yes, I said, I understand that now, but I didn’t then. Thinking, fifty-four is so far from seventeen it’s hard to believe they occur in the same lifetime.
I could see him trying to fit the pieces together. Were you a virgin? he asked.
I wouldn’t have thought it possible, but my face grew even hotter. Well, yeah, I said.
Because I was just hoping to get laid, he said.
Yes, I understand that now, I said again. I had a sudden image of God guffawing as he watched me soldier my way through this discussion.
I don’t know if he got the closure he was seeking, but we parted on good terms.
So now I’m left with this question: That kid I whopped with a broomstick when I was five, because he wouldn’t let my sister have a turn on the swings, should I expect him to show up on my doorstep, asking for answers?