I told the gal how I felt and soon we were whispering sweet nothings. Just as we were about to kiss, an angry, ex-girlfriend walked in the door. I told my new love that a kiss at that moment could turn ugly, so I whisked her into a small closet, …
Last week, I had a dream. I guess it was a Valentine’s dream.
I was at a museum party with all my old Buffalo Bill Historical Center female friends, and was captivated by a plain-Jane wallflower. Some familiar, fuzzy feelings came over me, and while making my approach, I glanced in a mirror and saw large chunks of my hair missing. As I was falling in love, my hair was falling out.
I told the gal how I felt and soon we were whispering sweet nothings. Just as we were about to kiss, an angry, ex-girlfriend walked in the door. I told my new love that a kiss at that moment could turn ugly, so I whisked her into a small closet, where we made out like a couple of sea otters. Nothing obscene, mind you, just meaningful, “Be mine” tender smooches.
It all felt so right, until I was jarred awake by my big cat, Sportscar, pouncing onto my chest from the back of the couch. The dream was sadly over, leaving so many unanswered questions. Instead of “coming out of the closet,” was my going back in a closet signifying my tired old heart really does still long for love? Who was that angry ex, who strangely looked like Betty White?
Was the missing hair saying, “Follow your heart, not your head?” And was my cat that rudely interrupted the dream telling me, “Our life is fine just as it is; we don’t need no stinking girlfriend coming in here complaining about hair on the furniture?”
It got me thinking about past loves and near-misses. The first girl that stole my heart in seventh grade was tall, breath-taking Pam Matse. She was from a different grade school, so didn’t know who I was, even though she’d been told, “Doug Blough likes you.” I was at my locker and saw her walking up the hall, her long, silky, blond hair alive, almost as if in slow motion. My friend Scott Berkely said, “I’ll show her who you are.”
My racing heart sickened when I heard her gasp, “That little kid there?” She later agreed to sit with me at a last-period wrestling match, and I couldn’t think of one single thing to say for the entire hour. That was our one and only date, and I remained deeply intimidated by Pam until the day we graduated, when she was still a head taller than me.
A street-wise Sherry Phillipi was my next “date” in eighth grade. She already smoked cigarettes and was known to engage in some frisky behavior I didn’t even understand yet; I thought guys meant she liked to wrestle. We held hands at a weekend football game, but at half time I caught her smoking with some of her wild, wrestler friends. I told her she either needed to quit smoking or we might have to break up.
Not long afterward, I fell for a bright-eyed, raven-haired seventh grader named Roberta Kaltenbaugh. I met her at a teen dance and was sure she was the one. That night, I stayed overnight at my best buddy Jerry Salley’s house, and I begged him to teach me how to kiss. Since Jerry was a stud 14-year-old who’d already “wrestled” with several girls, he thought it hilarious when I tried practicing his kissing instructions on the back of my hand. He laughed so loud he woke up his parents.
Then one summer evening, that first kiss happened, and quite frankly, I was not impressed. My older sister Wanda had a gathering in our rural front yard with some of her church girlfriends and a couple guys. Just after the badminton game, someone suggested riding around on our dirt roads, and I ended up in the back seat with an older, fairly homely girl named Winnie Godin.
Less than a mile from our house, the guy pulled over in a wooded area and parked. I’m making light-hearted banter and before I knew what hit me, this Winnie chick is bearing down on me like a wild animal, her big glasses smashed against my face and a foreign object – later identified as her tongue – in parts of my mouth where it had no business! My lips may have said “yes,” but my tonsils were saying, “hell no!”
That assault almost ruined me for kissing. Every time I rode past our neighbor Lemon Hollsopple’s smelly field and saw a cow on a salt lick, I thought of Winnie and had to turn away. But I soon learned that kissing doesn’t have to be so forceful and unsanitary. I actually started to enjoy it.
Now at 56, I thought I was pretty much done with romance, but my dreams seem to suggest differently. Hopefully by next Valentine’s Day, I won’t be sitting around the house practicing kissing on my own hand again.