Thursday, February 14, 2008

Love Me Tender, Love Me True

I was sitting in Mr. Dennis' sixth grade class just after lunch when the big news arrived. It came via a wadded up note tossed to me while Mr. Dennis was writing something on the board. Opening the note, I read the stunning message - words I never thought I would ever see or hear. "Melanie says she likes you." I looked up, trying to play it cool, but anxious to glimpse some sign of confirmation from Melanie, the coolest and prettiest girl in the entire sixth grade. She smiled at me and nodded in the affirmative.

I couldn't believe it. My life was suddenly changed. I was somebody! Melanie liked me! I could feel myself rising in coolness as I unfastened my cheap silver ID bracelet that kept turning my wrist green in P.E. and calmly and discreetly passed it over to Melanie, four seats away. She accepted the gesture and put my bracelet on her wrist. Wow! It was true. Melanie liked me!

Whatever else Mr. Dennis might have said that afternoon didn't matter. I was thinking about my Melanie and daydreaming about the days ahead. Should I walk her home after school? What about the Sock Hop coming up? Do I sit beside her at the lunch table tomorrow? Do I call her up and if I do, what in the world do we talk about?

By the time the bell rang at 3:24 I was pretty nervous about the whole thing. I was wondering just what to say when Melanie came by my desk and handed me back my bracelet. She said, "Let's just be friends, okay?" I looked at the floor and muttered, "Sure, that's fine." But it wasn't. I was crushed. What did I do wrong? How did I blow it in just three hours of class time? We didn't even have a conversation.

Thus I was painfully introduced to the fickleness of human nature and the terrible cruelty of the female of our species.

Since that time, however, I have met at least one wonderful exception to the rule. Her name is Suzanne and she's been wearing my ring for 26 years and 2 months. Has she ever thought about tossing it back to me? Probably, but still she wears it, year after year, through thick and thin, through three kids and two cats and six moves, it's still on her finger.

That's love, I guess, the real stuff. Not just puppy love that comes and goes with the moment. It's real love that shows on her face as I turn out the light, as she snuggles close and tries to warm her cold feet against my leg. Now that's love. Happy Valentine's Day.

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