GO AHEAD, BREAK MY HEART
When I was a little girl, I fell in love once a week. With a boy in third
grade, with a neighbor's cousin in fourth grade, with a coach in fifth grade.
And on and on ad infinitum
I regularly fell in love with all my older sisters’ boyfriends, and lugged
home armsful of love stories from the public library to read in the privacy of
my bedroom, away from the taunts of my irritating younger brother. He had a
habit of memorizing my diary and reciting it when we had dinner guests. I had
no secrets from this kid; he tormented me beyond reason.
Once in our teen Sunday School class, our teacher was decrying the utter
wickedness of Joseph’s older brothers who sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites.
"Imagine!" the teacher exclaimed in horror. "How could anyone sell their own
brother for twenty shekels of silver?"
I quickly raised my hand. "I'd gladly have sold my little brother to the
Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver," I replied solemnly.
You'd have thought I'd learned a lot about boys, about love, about life. But
I was as dense at 19 as I was at 10. A total blank.
One hot summer afternoon when I was fourteen, Mother dispatched me to the
dairy story with a crisp new five dollar bill for a gallon of hand-dipped ice
cream to serve to our dinner guests.
Waiting in the long line at the store I grew bored and restless, until a
blond Greek god behind me struck up a conversation. I gauged him to be about 19,
admired his bronze summer tan, his orthodontic smile, his azure eyes that
danced as he flirted shamelessly with me. He was from out of town and was
visiting relatives in our small town in upstate New York.
In less than five minutes I was in love. As he talked, I planned our
wedding, wondering which of our six awesome kids would have his Adonis looks, which
would favor me. I debated how to tell my parents I was quitting school to get
married at fourteen. License or no license.
As this Romeo gazed into my eyes I heard myself telling him I was seventeen,
knowing in my heart I still looked twelve. I told him my life story in only
five sentences, preferring instead to listen to his flattery about my haircut
and how God must have brush-stroked the sky with robin's egg blue to match my
incredibly blue eyes.
Finally, came the words I'd been dying to hear.
"Do you like to write letters?" he whispered, looking deeply into my eyes,
exploding rockets of delirium and joy through my eager, pounding heart.
"Oh yes!" I panted, waiting for him to scribble his mailing address on a
paper from the large black briefcase he was carrying.
"Wonderful!" he exclaimed, opening his briefcase to produce several boxes of
flowered writing paper. "I sell stationery and these are $5 a box. Which one
would you like to buy?"
After I picked up my splattered heart from the tile floor, I numbly forked
over Mother’s five dollar bill, selecting a stupid-looking box of stationery
with pink primroses or some dumb thing on it. The Greek god was already making
conversation with the girl behind him.
I left the store with no ice cream. Walking slowly home, I pondered how
Mother could serve primrose stationery to our guests for dessert.
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