Don, a member of my writing group, has been dredging up memories of unrequited love for the girl he adored throughout adolescence. Now, Don’s writings about Cheryl wouldn’t be painful to read once or even more than once if Don viewed his lost love with a degree of humor. Unfortunately for our group, the object of Don’s affection went on to a relatively glamorous career in New York and died in her thirties. Unlike his wife, the elusive Cheryl remains forever young and desirable. And Don writes and writes and writes about Cheryl—their every conversation, every glance, what might have been.
I suppose everyone stores memories of old flames in some remote chip in the nervous system. And occasionally these memories, activated by a song, a scent, a movie, or even a bout of insomnia or indigestion, push into consciousness.
Don’s decade-long crush on Cheryl makes my own school girl crushes pale in comparison. I could never manage to stay in love much longer than a year. I fell madly in love with Richard when they vaccinated all the school kids for typhoid fever during a water pollution scare. We were in second grade, and after getting his shot, Richard hid in the coat room and cried. I wanted to cry too, but hadn’t the courage to leave class, stick my head under my coat, and sob. Richard had integrity.
My next crush was on tall, blonde, not-too-smart LaMont. He was handsome—until his sister permed his beautiful, blonde hair turning him into a frizzy-haired geek. By junior high, I was ready to act upon my crushes. When tall, dark Chuck moved to town, I walked a mile out of my way to pass his house on my way home from school. Chuck never noticed me, but I benefited from the exercise.
Being rather shallow, most of my crushes were based on physical appearance. George, however, had a different criterion for falling in love. In high school he was mad about a girl named Janet who worked in a bakery and whose coat smelled like donuts.
No, George and I will not write volumes about our childhood crushes. Unlike Don’s now-mythical Cheryl, our old loves deserve to be lost.