Well, another greeting-card-manufactured-shmoliday is upon us. I’m not so put out by it because all the cards we’re passing amongst ourselves have not been purchased and when it’s all said and done, it’s difficult to argue with acknowledging love for one another… especially the little bug who was really looking forward to giving Mom and I the cards she made. Here’s the one she made for me at her friend’s house…
The longer I maintain this blog, the more I keep trying to think of silos (categories) of things to write about because, you know, you run out of things. Some categories I’ve been pondering are “medical stories” (the geriatric crowd would seem to be all over that, hey, am I in the geriatric crowd?, what’s the cutoff?), “being raised catholic stories”, “crazy ex-girlfriend stories”, “college stories” and “juvenile delinquency stories”. So you take L1pitor? Those 4 simple words can magically cut through a lifetime of not being able to generate small talk at a party or get-together. It works even better than “I just installed Wind0ws 95” used to work back in the… what was it?, oh yeah, late 90s. Anyway, as an acknowledgment of the smellings that are upon us, I thought to tackle a perverse tale of the heart, or maybe just forlorn pining. For any short post lovers… stop here.
In high school, I was not the most self-confident young man when it came to the girls. Most of the “hot” girls in the senior class were dating boys that had already graduated or more accurately, boys that would have graduated if they hadn’t dropped out of school. Their unavailability proved incredibly frustrating to us nerdy boys’ fantasy world where we conjured scenarios that would never happen regardless of their availability. So there was this beautiful girl in my class, let’s call her Robin. I longed for her for years but, constantly realizing that she was simply out of my league, kept my longing compartmentalized enough where it wasn’t really a problem. Of course I was a senior in 1976 and although, if you look back at pictures from 1976, you may think to yourself that it’s hard to believe anyone was ever attracted to anyone else because of the clothes and haircuts, but I can assure you that the way the girls looked combined with the adolescent flood of hormones was an attractiveness cocktail that has yet to be matched. Anyway, the most carnally disturbing trend of the time was the miniskirt. There was no dress code in my school and it really is amazing that I ever learned anything at all. I used to sit in the back of the room and ponder Robin’s black and white checked miniskirt (hey, maybe that’s why I’m always painting squares on my pots!) and of course everything that I imagined it barely concealing. There was a boy, however, who had moved to our small town not long before I was a senior. He was a fabulous pitcher named T0m Br0wning who played for our local Amer1can Leg1on post. He went on to play for the C1nncinati Reds and I believe in his rookie year, he won 20+games. Anyway, Robin’s boy was Tom… he was exotic and a nice guy. Well, apparently as high schoolers do, they broke with one another for reasons I’m not privy to and somehow she let it be known that she was interested in me. Honestly, I was in disbelief. So, to make an incredibly long story just long, I seized the opportunity without realizing that I was, more than likely, a pawn in the Robin/Tom romance. After our first encounter where it could no longer be considered a fantasy, I dropped her at her home and walked home myself. To this day, I vividly remember literally jumping for joy. I was beside myself wanting to scream and sing and dance. Robin had a best friend and I did too. The girls decided that it would be appropriate for her friend to get together with mine and I didn’t care because I was living a dream. In retrospect, there were probably many reasons for the demise of this situation, not the least was my over-analysis of how to keep it from ending but one night after drinking too much beer we stopped at her house and both girls were there and they decided both to end it. We were shocked, obviously, and we were drunk too. What ensued was a spate of small time/small town vandalism that got us both in a bunch of trouble (maybe I’ll tackle that story some other time) and most likely reaffirmed for both the girls’ mothers that we were unfit for their daughters. Later Tom and Robin reunited and I was distraught. Why the long story? I know, this is high school drivel right? Well, I tell it only as a premise for what happened afterward. I left home at 19 to go to school in KY and led a fairly healthy existence as far as matters of the heart til now. In my current state of over-analysis, I’ve come to the conclusion that the fact that I got to go out with this “unattainable” girl combined with the fact that the union was never consummated (how’s that for a euphemism?) created a subconscious pining that went on for many many years. In fact right up until 1999, I dreamt of Robin all the time, at least weekly for many many years and then a bit less for many more until 1999 (I realize that this sounds like a kind of obsession but in reality, I rarely thought of her in my waking life). Of course, in the dreams she was still 17 or 18 because, even though I had visited home, I never saw her for all those years. Occasionally, in my younger days, I would drive by the house where she grew up thinking I might “bump” into her and see what she was like but it never happened.
So, what happened in 1999? Well, my high school was tiny and by tiny I mean graduating class was 24. K-12 was all in the same building and all my siblings went to this school as well as my aunts and uncles and my parents. It’s a strange thing to be taught by the same teachers that taught your parents 25 years earlier but it’s true. Anyway, sometime after my youngest sister graduated, the school closed and now the school building has been purchased and is inhabited by a cult (but that’s another story). Every couple years the school has a reunion and since the class of ’76, say, only had 24 students… a class reunion would not yield much of a turnout. Their solution was that these class reunions would include anyone who had ever graduated and I went to the one in 1999, which was my 23rd year reunion. My aunt had gone and she was like the class of ’24 or ’28 or somewhere around there. So I showed up with Sofia’s Mom, who was 25 and I was 41 and I’m sure I was considered the stereotypical divorcee hanging out with the young babes. I was hoping that Robin would be there mostly because I imagined a scenario where we would have a private chat and I could tell her that she still invaded my dreams and of course she would reciprocate in some similar way and my subconscious would attain closure. That didn’t happen but I did get the closure. I half hoped that she would look like a battered old lady but to my surprise she had aged particularly well. We didn’t talk privately but I went to get a drink and she and the same girl that was her best friend in high school were both in the line with me. I asked how she was doing in my incredibly smooth small talk way that I’m so good at… we were still too young for me to ask if she was on L1pitor. It was very strange because she (and everyone else at the reunion) acted toward each other the same way they did back in 1976 and it bothered me that there seemed to be no acknowledgment that we had all lived lives where the amount of time we had lived after 76 was longer than the time before it. Anyway, our stilted conversation was pretty benign until I asked, you have any kids? Then BAM!, “yes, I have nine.” Nine! Jebus, really? (I didn’t say that). Suddenly, my subconscious alternate fantastic dreamworld collapsed. What if we had not split? I would have, no doubt, become a slave worker in service of an ever increasing brood. I can’t even imagine how different things would have been. Nine! After the reunion, I have yet to have another dream with her in it.
So, this all leads to my current belief about the contingency of life (actually, life is contingency) and the absence of regret. I’ve attempted to voice this idea before and been ridiculed but what the hell, it’s my blog. By contingency, I mean do I turn right or left… left?, well if it’s left, you never will know what right would yield. If one considers the actual event of conception, the fertilization of the egg and the millions of little swimmers vying to be the one, one has to conclude that conception the day before or the day after or even 5 minutes before or even 5 seconds before or after, although may still result in fertilization, the fertilization would be with a different swimmer… hence, maybe the child would be a boy and not a girl but regardless, the only thing for sure is that it would not be the same as the child that I actually have. I firmly believe that any choice during my whole life, large or small and no matter how seemingly insignificant would have altered everything after it and that however I might evaluate how different my life would be, I would certainly not have the love of my life, Sofia. This means in all honesty and reality, that if the bug is the best thing that ever happened to me (and it is), from when I was born to the second she was conceived… I did exactly the right thing, I made the perfect choice and in a real way, in each of the thousands and thousands of contingencies, I chose correctly up to that point. This means that it is impossible to have a regret because that regret, if I was magically able to alter it, would result in her not being born. Happy Smellentine’s.