Quote of the Day:
And I shall find some girl perhaps,
And a better one than you,
With eyes as wise, but kindlier,
With lips as soft, but true.
And I daresay she will do.
“The Chilterns”–Rupert Brooke
They’d been together four months and he really liked her. But he didn’t LIKE her-like her and he knew better than to approach six months with a girl like that. So he put it out of his mind until Christmas was over. Then it was over and it was time to make plans for New Year’s Eve. He decided an early January break was still well within the six month hard deadline so he could put it out of his mind for just one more night and they could go out and have a great time and have a great memory for when the hard feelings wore off.
With a firm decision in hand he was able to enjoy the evening more than any in the past few weeks. Dinner was nice. They hit triple flaming sevens on a quarter machine and won 250 bucks, and with a flourish of grandiosity he insisted she keep it all. Midnight approached and they stayed about even at the Poker bar, bonding one last time laughing at the drunken cougars across the way. A girl came around handing out complimentary champagne and a funny hat with a noisemaker attached. Midnight arrived and they sang and danced, then it passed and they decided to go to the diner for a late snack before calling it a night.
It had all gone perfectly and he hadn’t thought once about the invevitable hardship to come. Cheese sticks for her and a patty melt for him and they shared a few more laughs as his eyes began to tire and out of nowhere, as if she realized they were together at a pivot point but misjudged the direction altogether she looked up at him and smiled and said “I love you.” He faltered. She waited. He stared blankly, caught completely off guard and then she ran. He hesitated a second or two and then went after her. She had no other way home after all.
Unable to catch her before she descended the stairs, missing her as they weaved among the reveling throng, he finally caught her just outside the parking garage. They didn’t speak. She cried and he guided her to the car and they drove back to her place in silence. They went inside and she started the conversation he’d hoped to have the next week and, all things considered it went well to his mind. He was still a kid, you see, an idiot for the most part. He’d told her how much fun he’d had, how much he liked her, that she was beautiful. She seemed to understand, she even smiled. Then, two hours after they’d started, he gave her a friendly pat on the shoulder and said he was glad they could end it this way and as he got up to leave she said “End it? I thought you were making up?!” And so two more hours in which he said damned little–an idiot he may have been but one capable of learning from his mistakes. Before the sun came up they were both poised at last to start the year on fresh and different paths.
Six months later the girl called and said “Can you come over today?” He smiled to himself. “They always come around,” he thought. As he drove over he resolved to lay down strict guidelines from the start. After all, he liked this girl and he would never mislead her. She greeted him and smiled without a trace of discomfort or lingering rancor. “Come in the house,” she said, leading him by the hand. He felt good. As they crossed the threshold she implored him that he must “help my fiancé with some legal problems he has with his ex.” For an almost imperceptible moment he was once again caught off-guard. Then he rallied, smiling at her, seeing the knowing twinkle in her eye and yet at the same time the genuine friendship and happy recollection of good times he’d once hoped she’d take from the four months last year. He gave good advice and shook the strange man’s hand, hugged the girl from the side on his way out and drove away without looking back, but chalking one up for the New Year’s Eve girl. He smiled once more and silently wished her well as he disappeared around the bend.