Saturday, February 15, 2014

A different kind of love story

     It is hard not to bungle your first teenage love.
     Join me in pausing before reading on. Take a deep breath and sigh slowly. I hope your flashback moment is not too dreadful.
     Ah, puppy love. It can be painful in its conclusion, and often more heart wrenching than a split after a serious long-term relationship.
     Somebody out there in author land must have written the definitive book with enlightened answers for the clueless.
      I suspect this guidebook is like an adventure-filled anthology   from real life teens who have made it through into their twenties. It is one of the great life-altering situations everybody faces without enough coping skills in their toolbox for easy recovery.
      If not, I will write the book — I have no special qualifications making me an expert on love— in a humanitarian gesture of good will. I’m putting out the call for a co-author. Twitter me if you are interested in helping out the cause. Profits will go for rescuing endangered lovebirds.
      The movie will be coming soon to a theatre near you starring your favorite matinee idols, although, — surprise, surprise — their missteps and failures will pale in comparison to yours. You can’t rely on them as authentic role models…for anything.


     Not all romances turn out “forever after” as did Annie and Sam’s in “Sleepless in Seattle.” Meg and Tom role-played for America everyone’s perfect love affair on the wide screen in 1993.
      I sniveled and rustled through my coat pockets for tissue, along with everyone else in the theater. I cheered Annie and Sam’s meeting at the top of the Empire State Building, and blessed the good karma spreading out at arm’s length into the audience. It was meant to be.
     It reminds me of a parenting experience I had a number of years ago. (I am thankful I am over that phase after a mom tells me how raising a fifteen-year–old in the faster world of today takes all her energy trying to outsmart him.)
     My 1980 graphite blue Horizon hatchback was taking my sixteen-year old daughter and me home. She was crying her eyes out — sobbing uncontrollably to Duran Duran music on her Discman in the passenger’s seat. The night before, she had said goodbye to her summer beach boyfriend.
     The two of us would be shoulder to shoulder for 367 miles from Eastern Long Island to Western New York. She was trying to come to terms with that difficult question, mouthing the words to Duran Duran’s, “Is There Something I Should Know.”
     Her lips silently spoke the lyrics, “Please please tell me now, please please tell me now,” while her blond Madonna locks swayed back and forth.
     I was hurting for her realizing full well that it was the start of her maturity bumping along on life’s highway like the grains of sand sprinkled on the floor mats shifting ever so easily.   
      At one point when the sobs subsided, my daughter wanted to know about my first heartthrob, and I told her the story in hopes that she would see that she had a fellow soul commiserating with her even if we were a generation a part.
     At least, I thought I felt connected after listening to hours and hours of Duran Duran, the music of her age group day in and day out.

       Unbeknownst to me, I had a freshman boy that liked me.  Between dancing in my dreams with Dick Clark and shaking my hips to Elvis Presley songs on my transistor radio, life couldn’t get any better. For the very first time though, it would be with a real boy and not in the privacy of my soul.

     The sum total of three months together holding hands and cooing at each other crumbled faster than it took my boyfriend to get up the courage to ask me out in the first place back when we were innocent and fourteen, the rock n’ rolling king and queen of the freshman dance in the high school gym.
      On Valentine’s Day he came with a box wrapped expertly and topped with an elaborate bow. I immediately knew that it was a gift from the local jewelry store, and no doubt expensive. That was their signature wrapping paper. I told him that I couldn’t accept it. 
      He made several more awkward attempts at offering me this present, and somehow the box ended up being thrown at me before he stalked off.
      I knew the right thing to do — actually doing it was another.
    Unfortunately I never got around to returning it, and I let the incident slide — the relationship fell apart, too.
    I hid the necklace. A sadness came over me whenever I looked at it.
     Neil Sedaka  (and later, The Carpenters and David Cassidy) sang, “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do,”  a national anthem for the teen.
     It’s human nature to avoid things, rather than bucking up and tackling them.  It’s…complicated like the necklace chain that has accumulated knots in many sections, and now it is impossible to straighten out. (When I checked yesterday, it is there in the bottom drawer.)
    Love relationships have their twists and turns like the delicate Valentine’s heart necklace bursting with sparkles that might get tarnished with unfinished business.
     'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. —Alfred Lord Tennyson. That’s tough medicine to swallow without a teaspoon of sugar and a little laughter to soothe the ache.