Perceptions: A Love Story
I heard an interesting tidbit from my past last night, which I had never known. It’s actually very sweet and romantic, mostly sweet. Apparently I was part of a love triangle 25 years ago, but never knew it (until last night). I was talking to an old friend and we were reminiscing. I said something (I honestly don’t even remember how exactly this came up) and he disagreed with me. I started to insist, argue my point, tell him what had transpired. He tried to correct me but was also evading my questions. However, some people are better than others at evasion, and he is just like I am – he ends up telling the truth because he can’t help himself (I really hate when I do that. In this case, I loved it!)
So my friend I was talking to last night, whom I’ll call Fred, was a friend of mine in my senior year of high school. He was in the army when I met him, but only 6 months older than I was – he had gone to college at about 15 and then joined the army. He’s incredibly smart, but I think at the time wasn’t sure what to do with himself, or something like that (I’m still unclear on this part). Anyhow, when I first met him, we went out for a couple of weeks and I broke it off, because he was more a friend to me than anything else. We remained good friends, obviously, and I would hang out with him and his army buddies and they would hang out with me and my drama group (rather, Thespian friends) and it was always fun. So I developed a crush on one of Fred’s friends, whom I’ll call Roger. Somehow, I convinced Fred to set me up with Roger and go on a double date with us, and he took out one of my drama friends. We ended up at this park/lake where we were hanging out and paired up, walking around in the moonlight (very romantic). For years, I’ve remembered my first kiss with Roger, under the moonlight on a beautiful night by the lake. We were walking and talking and laughing and we stopped and were looking at each other. We both leaned in close, my heart was pounding, ready for him to kiss me. Just as his lips got close enough to almost touch mine, he pulled back. “Psyche!” he cried out. I can’t even fully explain my reaction – I pulled back, shocked, surprised and embarrassed. I must have looked upset. He put his arms around me and leaned in and kissed me. Of course, given how it started, I think I will probably remember that first kiss better than any other in my life. It was at once sweet and deep and took my breath away. Oh, and this is another change from my memory, or actually an explanation. Apparently, when Roger got close to kiss me, Fred gave him a look saying no, and he stopped short. Of course, obviously, he couldn’t resist me and kissed me anyhow.
So Roger and I started dating, and soon fell in love. He was my first love. It was a love so deep that I harbored it for many years, until I fell in love with my second husband, and realized I was no longer in love with Roger (and no, he wasn’t my first husband, whom I did also love, but not in the same way). Anyhow, in the spring of that year, I asked Roger to go to my prom with me. He hemmed and hawed, wouldn’t say yes, told me he didn’t like proms, that he was 20 years old and hadn’t even been to his own prom, etc. He kept putting me off. I argued with him that I really wanted to go to my prom, that he was my boyfriend, that I didn’t want to go with anyone else. Finally, he acquiesced and we ended up going to prom and had a wonderful night together. The next week, Roger broke up with me, telling me he was getting orders to be sent overseas and didn’t want to hold me back. He knew I was going away to college and wanted me to go without anything holding me back. He broke my heart.
Anyhow, last night I was talking to Fred and somehow this came up and he told me that Roger had really wanted to go to my prom with me. No he didn’t, I told him, and gave him all of the excuses Roger had used 25 years ago. He tried to get out of my tenacious questioning but eventually told me that he and Roger had argued repeatedly because Roger wanted to take me to my prom, he loved me, but Fred had wanted to take me to my prom and told Roger he couldn’t (despite the fact that I had asked Roger). So finally, they decided to fight it out, a duel of sorts for the honor of escorting me to prom. Mind you, as Fred was telling me this last night, I was completely flabbergasted. I kept pressing him for details. So he told me that I had been there the night they had the fight. Immediately, I asked if it was the night he tried to fly out of the tree, and laughing, he said it was. That night, we had all gone out (there were 4 of us that usually hung out together, the 3 of us and another guy in their platoon). Fred was beyond drunk that night, and was hilarious – which is why I remember the night so clearly, 25 years later. Fred climbed a tree, and about 500 birds flew out of it. Then he decided to fly out of the tree, which of course, didn’t end so well for him, since he ended up on the ground. He was fine, just got up and walked it off. There were also several other things he did that night that were even funnier, including blowing up a condom while in the backseat of a small sedan; it actually blew up almost as big as the backseat of the car before it popped.
Well, apparently, after the guys took me home, they went back to base and Fred and Roger “dueled” for my hand. Now, Fred was a tall, lanky guy, and Roger had about 50 pounds of muscle on him. Fred told me last night he’d gotten so drunk that night hoping it would make the punches not hurt as much – he knew going into it that Roger would take him, but was determined to fight for my hand. The next day, Roger told me he’d decided to go to prom with me. I assumed (for 25 years) that he just changed his mind, not that he’d “won” the right to be my date. Of course, I found out last night that he just finally agreed, as he’d wanted to all along. Oh, and Fred told me he had gone with Roger to order my corsage, and to rent his tuxedo, etc, because they both wanted to make sure I had a perfect evening. So sweet!
All day today, I’ve been thinking of this huge difference from what I’ve believed for so many years. And all day today I’ve been smiling. I actually had 2 amazing guys fighting over me, and I had no idea. I probably never would have if it hadn’t been for some random conversation I had with an old friend last night, who got backed into telling me the parts I didn’t know. Wow. Now, I have a lot of confidence, I know exactly what I’m worth (a whole lot, and I’m not talking about finances, I know the kind of person I am). However, I could never have imagined that these two guys, two best friends, literally had come to blows over me. It’s stupefying.
And it’s funny. If I’d known back then that Fred was trying to tell Roger that he was going to prom with me, I would have been very upset. I was madly in love with Roger, Fred was my friend. I wanted to go with Roger. It would have been a huge teenage drama filled with angst. Instead, I think it’s about the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard.
It’s funny, the difference in perception that 25 years will make. As I’ve thought about it, it’s also a lesson in the way we view things that happen. We never know the back-story, what else is going on in a situation. Our circumstances change the way we view things. This is an important lesson to keep in mind – we only ever know one side of the story, even if we believe there is nothing else going on. When I was studying journalism, we were taught what to find out in reporting a story: who, what, when, where, why, how and what else. That’s something we should consider every day. What else?
Live, laugh, love…it’s what makes it worthwhile.