I suppose I should be glad to have lived long enough to no longer be pretty. The trouble is, it came to me the other day that I look exactly like my driver’s license picture. It’s not a picture I’d care to show around.
Friends came by recently. We sat and visited for about an hour. I was sitting back relaxed while the wife was telling about last summer’s high school reunion. I didn’t attend high school here in our little town, but I know several of her classmates.
She was talking about one of the women who had traveled to the reunion. She mentioned that the woman had a nice scrapbook. As she told of looking through the woman’s scrapbook, she looked at me, tossed a live grenade into my lap, and said, “It was _______ _____.” She said that the scrapbook contained several pictures of me, of the two of us together, some correspondence, and other memorabilia.
As calmly as I could, I put the pin back into the grenade. I think that by nature I am discreet, especially when it comes to kiss-and-tell. It just isn’t something I have ever done. Even though I have lived in this little town for decades, I have never mentioned her name. I always figured that if she wanted people to know that we had once dated, it was up to her to tell.
When our friends were gone, I continued to ponder about what had happened. I thought about the old girlfriend being in town and talking about us. I wondered if she thought about calling me and if so, why she didn’t.
But, I think I know why she didn’t call. We were in our teens when we met. We are still young in her scrapbook. We are still pretty in our dreams. I once wrote a poem that contains the line, “Life lies fairer in my dreams than ever truth could be.”
There are a few persons from the past with whom I would love to have a good visit. Most of them are women. The girl with the scrapbook is one. I don’t care to see any of them, and I certainly don’t care to be seen by them.
My poem addresses the problems of looking up an old love. “I could go knock upon her door. We’d reminisce a bit. But then the dream would be no more. ‘Twould be the end of it.” In most cases, the dream is far superior to reality.
Still, I would like to know how life has treated her. I would like to hear of her joys and sorrows. I would enjoy reminiscing.
I have a favorite picture of Barbara and me. We are out in the snow in the little Colorado town. We must have gone outside just for the photo because neither of us is wearing a coat. We are both 19. I am standing behind her with my arms around her middle. She leans her hair against my cheek. We were both pretty back then.
I have grown old with Barbara. She has grown old with me. And we both grew old with John Wayne. The changes that have come to us have been slow and incremental, scarcely noticeable. Although, if we hadn’t been there to watch it happen, it would have been excessively dramatic.
Barbara and I were driving out of town in the big Dodge a few mornings ago. I beeped the horn at a beautiful woman friend of ours. She turned and waved. I said to Barbara, “I’ll bet her husband is like me, he wishes he was as pretty as his wife.”