Friday, August 14, 2015

More Hope than Wisdom

by Jean Roberta

When I was six, I had such a crush on a boy in my first-grade class that I told my mom I wanted to share my paper dolls with him. She told me that (most? conventional?) boys don’t play with paper dolls. (As an adult, I’ve met some charmingly feminine men who probably did, but that is another blog post.) I hadn’t considered this possibility. I realized that I really didn’t know Tommy very well. (I still remember his name!) I just liked the smart, quiet person he seemed to be.

This one-sided relationship was a preview of things to come.

At age fourteen, I met a nineteen-year-old boy/young man through mutual friends. When he asked me out, I was thrilled by the attention of an older man, especially when he told me he regarded us both as mature adults. For some reason, my parents were alarmed when I told them Bill’s real age.

Bill told me he thought we should get married when I was sixteen, and he was sure he could talk my parents into giving us their blessing. Since we were going to get married anyway, he thought it didn’t matter if I conceived our first child in the meanwhile. (Luckily, I didn’t.)

I had doubts about Bill’s plan for our future, especially when he made it clear that, as his wife, I certainly wouldn’t be going to college. In fact, I didn’t need to graduate from high school.

I thought my academic parents were reacting hysterically, but I wondered why Bill didn’t seem to care what I wanted. He thought I was being manipulated by my parents, and that I should stand up to them as the grown woman I really was. They told me I couldn’t see Bill any more.

It all came to a head with a shouting match between Bill and my father in our driveway. I watched from the sidelines, feeling horribly responsible for creating a mess. I was glad that neither man had a shotgun in his hands, the only thing missing to turn the scene into a classic western duel in a rugged, sagebrush-covered setting.

Time passed. I met several other guys who looked attractive enough, and who seemed fair, decent, intelligent, generous and compassionate – at first. Sooner or later, the connection fell apart when they decided that I was the “kind of girl” no guy could love: a wannabe intellectual and writer, a slut who had given herself away to earlier guys, a “shrill” feminist who argued against double standards.

I “came out” and began meeting women in the local gay bar. Several of them dazzled me at first, but in due course, I remembered that I had met them in a bar, the natural habitat of drunks. To a degree that surprised me, they were turned off by the same qualities in me that had turned guys off – but then, I was used to dating people who were not much like me. It didn’t help that we usually met over drinks.

I may have been a hypocrite, as several of them claimed when I asked for an honest, stone-cold-sober date, but two drunks do not a clear-sighted relationship make.

I don’t regret feeling the thrill of a first attraction, or the hope that goes with it. And to be fair, the disillusionment that followed was always mutual.

My current long-term sweetie was not a “first love” for me, or vice versa. Luckily, we both had some experience before we met.

I like to write about first-time attraction because it’s a rush. I just wouldn’t want to go there again in the real world. It's a state of altered consciousness which (in my experience) is always followed by a hangover.


  1. Friends of my parents had a boy who played with dolls. I was a few years older, and we thought he was strange. Dunno what ever happened to him.

    I once punched my father for his comments about the young Momma X. The little Jew girl didn't reach his expectations of a blue-eyed Irish daughter-in law.

  2. I know several lesbians who told me their first boyfriends were interested in such things as fashion and home decor. In some cases, the boyfriend and girlfriend (who were really best friends) "came out" together and continued to be friends while exploring the same-sex dating pool. In other cases, one of them broke the heart of the other one in order to "come out." (This is the plot premise of the sit-com Will and Grace.)

    Oh, a religious difference. Those can be very hard to overcome or negotiate. Congratulations to you and Momma X for your long life together despite your different backgrounds.

  3. I might say that youth is more prone to first-love infatuations that don't (and never could have) work out, but I know for a fact that it an happen in other stages of life.

  4. " a state of altered consciousness which (in my experience) is always followed by a hangover." Deliciously well put, Jean.

    Still, I'm going to drink the wine -- even if I know I might be sorry in the morning.

  5. I like all kinds of altered consciousness states. The falling in love one is particularly addictive for me, which is why I write romance. My brain is always presenting me with people and situations, inviting me to experience them. And since I've been happily married for so long, it's the only way I can do it while being true to my husband. For some readers, it presents them with something they think they'll never have, since their real-life romances are never that good. For me, it lets me experience the newness again, the state of excitement that springs from discovering to your delight that your feelings are shared by the object of your desire. What a rush!

    Like Lisabet, I enjoy the drink, even if I'll regret the hangover in the morning.

  6. Thanks for commenting, Sacchi, Lisabet and Fiona. Right after posting, I was afraid I sounded too cynical, but clearly, I'm not the only one who has been blinded by a first impression.


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