They say you never forget your first love. The first time you felt an attraction to another human being. The first time he or she spoke to you, paid attention to you, perhaps gave you that first kiss.
I guess I’m no exception because I fell for the opposite sex at the ripe young age of about nine or 10. I was terribly shy, though, about such matters. I didn’t really understand what it was to have a boyfriend, unlike the kids of today who grow up much too fast and, along the way, miss out on half the fun of having a childhood. Heretofore, my only crush had been on a Hollywood movie star whose photos I saw frequently in movie magazines. His name was Rory Calhoun, and he starred in an awful lot of westerns in the ’50s and ’60s in addition to being a romantic lead. He was without a doubt the stereotypical tall, dark and handsome movie star, and I figured that’s exactly the kind of man I would marry one day. I didn’t. My husband is short and balding, yet quite pleasant-looking. I figure I got the better deal, since Rory was married twice and died at 52; our love story is more than 43 years in the making and still going strong.
The first time I caught a glimpse of my first love I was on the school playground. We were supposed to be engaged in a game of dodge ball, but I was too short and chubby to be much of an athlete, so I wandered away from those who were thoroughly engaged in the pastime of recess and stared at him through the fence.
I can still see that fence that ran along all sides of the playground. It was chain link, much of it rusted out because it had served as a barrier between the school and the outside world for too many years. A series of bushes had grown around it — honeysuckles with yellow and white blossoms poked through the links, beckoning us. When they flowered, we would pick them off, pull the stamen out, and suck the sweetness of the nectar up and down the stems.
One day as I looked through those chain links, I saw him. He was looking right at me smiling broadly. I smiled back, and that was the start. He was there every day thereafter, waiting for me when school got out. He stood aside his gleaming white vehicle and always said, “Hello.” I’m not sure if he heard the other kids call me by name, but one day he said, “Hello, Rona,” and my little heart melted right there on the sidewalk.
What made him even more attractive to me was he wore a uniform. A handsome man in a uniform, what more could a girl want? It was all white, and he always wore a bow tie, which I thought very sharp indeed. Before long, he was waiting for me not just during recess, but after school as well. The bell would ring, I’d scoop up my books, throw on my coat, and head outside. There he was, parked right by the chain-link fence with the honeysuckle vines twisting through the links.
Always he had that smile, that greeting, and every day he brought something special for me. I fantasized in my little girl way that he was there only to see me, so I began taking great pains in the morning to pick out my school outfit, then visiting the “girls’ room” before the end of the day to make sure my hair looked perfect. I longed for him to be as attracted to me as I was to him.
Then one day in late October when the skies grew gray and the winds blew their signal of coming winter, he wasn’t there. I shivered in my fall coat as I patiently waited for him by the chain-link fence. The honeysuckles had long ago stopped blooming, so there was nothing sweet to occupy my taste buds while I waited, except my love for him. I kept waiting, but he never came. When I finally burst into tears at home, my mother comforted me. “It’s okay honey, he’s just gone for the winter. Don’t worry, the Good Humor Man will be back in the ice cream truck next spring.”
My first boyfriend had dumped me.
Rona Mann has been a freelance writer for The Sun for 17 years, including her “In Their Shoes” features. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 401-539-7762.