I love women, almost everything about them, from the silkiness of their skin to the way they smell, and it must be something that started early with me, because I remember every female I've been infatuated with as far back as kindergarten.
Kindergarten through second grade at Enterprise Elementary I was torn between Bessy (I am sorry, Bessy, but your last name is gone from my brain) and Polly Ann Sabo—I guess the monogamy bug hadn't fully developed inside me. Bessy was the first girl I ever held hands with, we walked back to the children's home together, and she liked to chase me on the playground…I don't think I really minded getting caught.
Third grade was all Suzanne Joyce at Lake Mary Elementary. She wore white go-go boots almost every day--giver her a break, it was 1970--and she liked to kick. An odd way of showing her affection, I suppose. It never even occurred to me until just now that maybe she didn't like me back? Nah…couldn't be.
Fourth grade at Hopper Elementary was Kim Sumula, a gorgeous gal I'm guessing was Filipino, and an older woman—a fifth grader. I'm not sure she liked be, but she was semi-friendly and didn't kick.
Fifth grade at Southside Elementary was Cindy Clark, the typical blond-and-blue Barbie-doll type--as was sixth and seventh grade at Liberty Christian. She liked me back. Sometimes. I think.
Eighth was pretty much a loss. I liked Kellie McLaughlin, but she liked another. Or several anothers. In fact, I think she liked every male at Sanford Christian but me that year. Still, I bounced back in ninth and found myself involved with Kellie. She was my first real romance. She looked like Valerie Bertinelli, rode a scooter to school, and was far smarter, far more mature, and much too good for me, a skinny, rather homely kid squarely in the middle of an immature ass-pain-jerk stage. My mom hated her. Still, she taught me to kiss, really kiss, and probably took me from boy to young man. One of my favorite memories is going to New Smyrna Beach with Kellie and my cousin, Maurice, who died the next year. She got so sun-burned her mother called to give me hell.
Tenth grade delivered me to Seminole High with some small amount of maturity—and into the velvet and iron clutches of Ivonne Riestra.
Anyone who does not believe in love at first sight has never experienced it.
I saw this girl and my world stopped. She was dark. Sloe-eyed. Latina. Exotic. Love and lust fought for control inside me, and I still don't know which won. It was hopeless from the first: She was gorgeous—I was not. She was Latina, with almost exclusively Latin friends--I was not. She was a junior--I was a sophomore. All in all, my situation was screwed. But this did nothing to diminish my ardor.
For two years, Ivonne was the girl of my dreams. I saw her almost every day—it was painful. And fantastic. She did not ignore me, she just didn't see me. I was invisible, as most gangly sophomore boys are to beautiful older girls. I only heard her speak a few times, in passing, and only in Spanish. I wasn't even sure she could speak English. I only spoke to her once: I asked my Spanish teacher, Sr. Monserratt, how to say this, and I mumbled it in her general direction as we passed between classes:
"Hola, Hermosa. Como esta Usted?" (Hello, beautiful. How are you?)
This got no response, except maybe an eye-roll.
Still, I did not give up, and it took my family's move to North Carolina before my senior year to kill my hopes. Senior year? New guy as a senior? Dorky? Kind of poor? It was pretty much a zero. Go figure. You would think hot gals would have been all over me, right? And so I leaped --or maybe stumbled--from high school into my future, my life, adventures good and bad, marriage to a fantastic woman, awesome children, and other stories we'll save for other times.
Almost thirty years gone. Where did they go? Well, they got swallowed by the time-monster, like all years do, but they've been good years, for the most part, and I have no complaints. Complaints don't work anyway. Just try one at Wal-Mart—you'll see.
Anyway, not long ago I found my cyber-path crossed with that of Ivonne Riestra. Cool. Strange, but cool. It's an odd thing to touch base with someone with whom you were infatuated, but didn't know. I'm glad I did. Ivonne is married with children, just like me and my hero, Al "The Man" Bundy. She has a good life, and this makes me happy. Am I still enamored? No, but I love those ancient memories, so perhaps I am enamored of those special moments from my youth that have drifted so quickly into the past.
Pleasant memories are like pictures we can take out to admire, from time to time, aren't they? So I can still see Ivonne walking past in my mind, smiling and laughing with her best friend, Yadira, and I can remember how seeing her made me feel inside, and this is good. And you know what's even better? She is just as sweet as I always thought she would be. She is a genuinely nice, sweet woman. I'll bet her daughters are just like she is. Her husband, God bless him, is probably awesome. I might hate him a little. Okay, not really. That was humor I couldn't resist. From what I hear, he is a great guy.
So where did I end up in this deal that started so long ago? With a friend, and friends are few and far between. I have many ex-girlfriends, but not so many friends, and friends count.
Am I glad we crossed paths? Absolutely. If nothing else, she confirmed my good taste—she's a sweetie. A lady in every sense of the word. A class act.
If I had my choice between knowing her then and knowing her now, which would I take?
I'd take now. I'm happy. She's happy. All good. And more importantly, she is one of the building blocks that made me who I am, led me to where I am, and I wouldn't change that.
Where am I going with this? I'm not sure. I'm deep into the Evan Williams at this point, so it's hard to say. The keys are blurry, it's late, and I'm tired. I guess I'm saying that in this day and age of instant cyber-com, we can reach out and touch anyone. And that is good. Or bad, depending on who that person is. Still, for me, it's been great. I value the old friends I've found—gems found in a field of times long past—and the new friends, as well.
So: Bessy, if you're out there, give me a yell. You smelled good, had soft hands, and were a good playground chaser.
Polly Ann—you were all looks. You're probably a super-model. I don't remember your hands, so in retrospect, I shift all my early allegiance to Bessy, and thus solidify my monogamous nature.
Suzanne, I hope you tossed the go-go boots—though I thought they were pretty hot at the time—and I hope your husband has strong shins.
Kim, my first exotic infatuation, I hope all things golden have come your way. You probably think about me every day, I know, but please maintain control.
Cindy, I hope you're having fun. I'm not overwhelmed with memories of you, so perhaps it was an underwhelming infatuation. My loss, I am sure.
Kellie, I'm sorry I was so jerky. You were a great kisser. Drop me a line so I can apologize, and remember your sunscreen.
Ivonne, you'll never age a day in my brain, and you're as sweet as I'd hoped.
There it is, my love-life, or lack thereof, prior to the age of eighteen. It's not exciting, I know, but it's the only story I've got for tonight.
Off I go. Night-night. Sleep tight, and may the force be with you.