On this Valentine’s Day, it seems entirely appropriate to reminisce about First Love.
You remember…first love? Right? That heart-thumping, pulse-racing stuff of fairy tales, legends, and Hallmark greeting cards.
We’ve all been there.
As a 13-year-old in the throes of First Love, I suffered terribly when Cupid’s arrow smacked me right in the middle of my heart.
Let me set the scene. A teen dance at our church. Girls clumped like grape clusters on one side of the room. Boys lined up like tin soldiers on the other.
The long, low ceilinged room is dimly lit.
Onstage musicians bathed in spiraling red and blue lights. The music blares.
For me, time is running out. The dance is nearly over and I desperately want my True Love to calmly walk over and ask me to dance.
It’s not happening.
Frantic consultations with my two best friends come up with one simple solution. I going to have to do this myself.
I’m going in alone.
I thread my way across the floor through a handful of couples slowly dancing. It has gotten dark outside and the room is fading into shades of grey. My True Love is casually leaning back against the wall with two friends. His eyes slide toward me and then away.
I hesitate. "Oh no!" Is that good or bad? I need a quick consult. But there’s no time.
Then he slowly looks my way again.
I plunge forward. My sweaty hands are trembling. My heart is pounding so violently I can feel it through my shirt. Moments later I am staring him in the face.
Time stands still.
I am vaguely aware that in the background, the band is playing “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds,” by the Beatles. (From their 1967 album Sgt. Pepper and the Lonely Hearts Club.)
“Hi!” I say.
“Picture yourself in a boat on a river
With tangerine trees and marmalade skies…
“Hi,” he replies.
“Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly
A girl with kaleidoscope eyes”
It’s time to fight or flee.
“Would you like to dance with me?” I ask.
"Cellophane flowers of yellow and green
Towering over your head."
Then to my horror, he crumples in front of me. Bending over...clutching his waist, my True Love starts coughing like a cat retching up an extra large fur ball.
I stare with shock. His friends look confused. His cough appears to be worsening.
What is going on?
Is my True Love expiring before my eyes?
“Do you need some water?” I ask.
He weakly lifts his head and mumbles, “No, But…”
“But what?” I ask.
“But I am coughing too hard so I can’t dance.”
"Look for the girl with the sun in her eyes
And she's gone."
I turn and flee. To the only known sanctuary that will hide my broken heart from the world. The girls’ restroom. Last stall to be exact.
I can still hear the music.
"Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds, ah, ah"
I put the toilet seat down and sit. I have an epiphany. "You know," I think. Upon close reflection.
He really wasn't all that cute.