Saturday, July 20, 2013

Ode to Susan J

She was the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen, though being a 12 year old social recluse at the time that probably wasn’t saying all that much. Her name was Susan; a dignified name, not like Sue or Susie or any of those lesser derivations… Soooosaaaannn. Even her name was beautiful.

She was teeny as I remember, but then I was a damn tall 12 so my height perception may have been a bit skewed. I remember mostly her eyes; haunting, perfectly shaped, soulful, baby blue, or was it brown… wait… hazel!... gosh, does it matter? They were the most bea….. you get the idea.

She had a little button nose, the kind that looked like it was created perfectly and then God had this little extra piece of clay stuck to His fingers and couldn’t shake it free so he used the little point of His new creation’s nose to scrape on and the stuff came right off; and then while he went to look for a spatula with which he might remove it, it hardened, so He just shrugged and said “well, thank Me it’s cute or I’d have to start over” and He left it alone and moved on to making an African boy baby that would turn out to have the name Stephen Biko.

We went to Catholic school together. She hung with the cool kids, even though her puppy dog looking shyness (so cute! OMG! Squee! ) would push the other cool kids to giggle at her once in a while. I on the other hand would wander off to the furthest reach of the huge parking lot we called our recess playground, trying my best to blend in with the Boston ivy that smothered the concrete retaining wall on the lower level. Needless to say, we didn’t run in the same circle, hers being the playground medicine ball and mine being the pentagram bannered black hole of doom.

I don’t believe I ever talked to her; not a hello or how d’ya do or Man it’s cold today, or didja hear Johnny peed his pants at lunch hour…. not a word. I just glanced now and then, never stared. Sometimes I’d just swivel my head in a direction that I knew would cross her path and readied my memory chip camera for that one single still I was in search of. Click went my shutter without anyone noticing, without her thinking I was some sort of creep. (Not that she might not have thought that anyway as she did run in the same crowd as Helen S. who definitely thought I was a creep) And then I could look all I wanted at the memory photo, and heavily sigh, in my silent and secret way.

It was a long year, spending 6-8 hours a day within hair sniffing range of my very first crush ever and not being able to admit it to either her or my imaginary squirrel friend for fear that even my imaginary friend would end up explaining to me that I was rejection bait on a stick, that it was better to have fantasized than ever to have expressed love at all, cuz expressing one’s devotion only led to ruin, and raucous laughter, and eternal shame.

I did express my love in one way, one day. I had a paper route, and her house was on it. I had lied to get the route, telling the company rep I was 13 and forging a note from my dad to confirm it. (My having the route had nothing to do with her of course, but was only a way to escape the bonds of lower middle class slavery and allow me the pleasure of buying lots of cheap but totally worthless and yet cool junk… plus day old doughnuts)

Know that I never thought naughty things about Susan. Remember I went to Catholic school where we boys were taught that thinking naughty thoughts led to the dreaded masturbation which led to ejaculation which led to the heinous murder of ten thousand little babies which led to the punishment only a wrathful God could provide. So I only thought of my true love in the sweetest of terms. (The sexual thoughts came a little later after I’d found my first Playboy mag while taking an alleyway shortcut home from my morning route. Once that’d happened, well, babies died by the millions)

I was thinking about sweet Susan as I walked my papers through Linden Hills that morning, about her little leftover clay nose and her close set Bambi eyes that may or may not have been hazel. And I was thinking “gods, I wonder what it’d be like to kiss her” cuz ya know I’d seen it on TV and people seemed to like it (even though my parents never did it so for all I knew TV kisses were just some secret Russian plot to get us all converted to Communism)

I was standing at the door to her home, a home I only knew she lived in because I collected the paper fee from the adults that lived there and they’d written me a check for a 2 dollars and change and it had her last name on the check and since it was a common name with an uncommon spelling I made the genius deduction that she must live in that house!

Now I am reticent to write the rest of this as if it is seen by the wrong people, namely any member of the Manly Man Council or especially their governing body the Manly Man Card Approval Czar and Minions, I might be drummed out of the Manly Man Club; and since that’s the only club that has ever truly accepted me as one of their own, we can’t have that. So understand, I trust you guys and all, but still, you have to swear to me you won’t tell a soul about this. No really. I mean it. Not a soul. Dammit!

I kissed the newspaper before I put it inside the screen door, and then I left as if nothing stupid had just happened. Not a big wet sloppy kiss like some over-salivating St. Bernard would do; just a little peck, with perfectly dry lips, that barely touched the paper at all, and didn’t leave ANY mark I swear to GOD!!!

Sure I knew she probably didn’t read the newspaper at 12. Yea, I doubted she even touched the paper, so the likelihood that the vibes from my little peck might somehow travel to her heart through her fingers accidentally brushing the daily Tribune was nil, and nada, times a bajillion. But still… I kissed a paper that was left in the doorway of the house that my true unrequited love lived in where she’d at least pass within a few yards of it and… oh be still my beating heart…

For about a block I felt pretty good about it, my silly but harmless worship offering to my first pedestal place holder. But soon, as has been my bent though the years, I began to question my sanity; what would have happened if I’d been seen, what if anyone found out, how could I ever live this down, what kind of total idiot was I… a regular idiot or a really, really special idiot.

I didn’t bring up the kiss at my next confession. I couldn’t be sure that my kissing a newspaper wasn’t tantamount to premarital sex in the eyes of the church, but I didn’t want the parish priests talking about this odd little twerp that played altar boy every other Sunday who lives in a fantasy world like Alice in Wonderland. I certainly never told Susan about it, and if I weren’t absolutely positive that she will never ever see this post I’d not have written it here either. Hell, I don’t know if she’s even alive, I’ve never seen her since. But I did write her a poem once, when the crush had long passed and we were both old and gray if not as I said, six feet under. I say I wrote it to her, but I spose truly I wrote it to myself. I’ve never forgotten that feeling, that secret rapture, that heartbreaking knowledge that this is as close as you’ll ever get to touching perfection, in all senses of that phrase. Susan did change my life a little. “Loving” her made me realize I was capable of love beyond love of sugared cereal and frozen whipped cream pie, and it made me aware of the fun in romance, even that which only lives inside your heart.

If you had known I loved you, would the world have seemed a lighter place?
Or would the moon have crumbled and its shards come crashing down.
You say you didn't see me tremble every time I saw your face
but if you had, now tell the truth, would I have seemed a clown?

If you had known I worshiped you, yes, as in silly teenage hype
was there a chance your pedestal had room for such as I?
Or was I always chaff to you, "a nice guy sure, but not my type"
might you have seen my flaky crust too filled with humble pie?

If I had asked you for a date, say to the show or out for tea
would you have held your breath until the paramedics came?
Or might you have been thinking "gosh I wish he'd want to be with me"
and I was just too dumb to know to feed the smallest flame.

It really has no meaning, it was back when I was just a child
I'd guess your life was perfect even though I wasn't there
It's just my little memory; my first true love, your first beguile
But here I thought I'd tell you, just in case you might have cared.


  1. it was back when I was just a child

    The things we remember with such clarity.

    I'm glad you had a Susan and that now you have a Linda. :) I had a Sheldon, and now I have a... well, you get it.

    1. A Sheldon! Isn't that the cutest name ever lol:)

  2. Lovely memories, though not of the crushing lonership.

    I remember so little of my childhood. It's super to get a glimpse into yours.

    1. I've tried to forget most of mine but it comes back to haunt me now and then lol