Long Distance Romance

So, from what I gather, I was asked to write a “romantic” memory blog for my last assignment but somehow accidentally turned in one about zombies instead.  I’m not surprised.  When I was a kid my mother used to ask me to clean my room and I’d accidentally end up watching TV with my dad, instead.  These things just happen.

But, that still leaves me with the romantic memory task, which I’m not quite clear on —  you mean like boys and stuff?  ‘Cuz I don’t think I have any of those.  I didn’t really date anyone in high school.  If you saw my picture, you’d understand why.  I remember when I was a freshman though, there was this senior that I had a huge crush on.  We’ll call him Nigel, even though his name was Jim – and probably still is.

I never actually spoke to Nigel.  I couldn’t muster up the audacity.  What saith the lowly plebeian in the presence of a god?  I’m not exaggerating.  He was that cute.  His senior yearbook photo was so dreamy, it was dangerous.  It had the magical powers of Medusa, except, instead of turning into stone when you looked directly at it, you burst into butterflies and floated away.  After he graduated, it was all I had to remember him by.

Cut to a few year later, and I’m in a bar in Seeley Lake with a bunch of my friends and their fake I.D.’s and we’re standing around trying to look like we belong there — when what to my wondering eyes should appear but Nigel O’Godlike drinking a beer.  He looked exactly as I remembered, with his big beautiful teeth and groovy little retro Beatle haircut.

My heart stopped as we made eye contact.  And then – and then he asked me to dance.  And then he asked me to dance again.  And again.  And it was all going so well, until that inevitable moment arrived.  Yup, that moment.  The slow dance.  That was it.  Tear down the tents and clean the cages.  He wasn’t going to slow dance with me.  Even I knew that.  It was just too much to ask for.

So, when he took me in his arms, it was a forgone conclusion that I would be killed later that evening by a speeding semi and God was just letting me go out on a high, which, you know, I was okay with, because I knew life would never get any better than this.  And that was when he drew back, ever so slightly, and kissed me …

And that guy had the worst beer breath I’d ever encountered in my life.  IN MY LIFE.  I couldn’t get off the dance floor fast enough.  Now, don’t get me wrong, my heart still flutters a little when I look at Nigel’s photo, but it’s accompanied by an uncontrollable desire for breath mints.

I guess if I absolutely had to pick a romantic memory, it wouldn’t be so much about a person as it would be about a time – a time before cell phones and unlimited long distance phone calls.  See, way back in the day, sometime around the dawn of evolution, long distance was expensive.  It was for special occasions only — Christmas or death and that was it.

So, my freshman year I made friends with this kid who lived outside of town.  We couldn’t hang out during the summer because neither of us had a car, and when you don’t have a car, 50 miles might as well be 500 because you’re not gettin’ there — hence the invention of letters.

Then one day my phone rang and it was my friend.  I couldn’t believe it.  “Does your mother know you’re calling me long distance?” I asked.  And then we went on to talk for 20 minutes – 20 minutes long distance.  I couldn’t even imagine what the charge on that call was going to be, probably like 500 or 1000 dollars.

In retrospect, I realize the actual cost may have been slightly less than I had speculated, but what did I know?  I was 14.  The point is that my friend called me.  And that meant something, because I knew his folks probably made him pay for that call, whatever the cost, and I never forgot it.  And in my book, folks, that’s romantic.

Missing Missoula

CC The Trained Monkey

BIO:  Carol Chrest is a bitter old spinster living in Los Angeles. When she’s not working ridiculous hours at her cruddy day job, she writes screenplays.  She drinks.