The Love Story of the Day
Pamela: Of course, it begins with you: the one I dreamt of, years before we met at school. I stammered when you told me that you loved me, despite the fact that I felt the same, ever since that day on your sister's couch when we listened to Hall and Oates and you cried.We spent five years enmeshed in each others' souls and skins, living a shared life as the conglomerated "Pay and Clam." Ultimately, we stood before our friends and our families and we swore on our lives to love eternally.I hate that you lied. I didn't.
Kenia: You were my favorite waitress in my favorite restaurant, though I don't think you ever recognized me from day to day. I got the distinct impression that you're not too terribly bright, but I never cared -- your beautiful smile and the way you introduced yourself every day made me feel like a Groundhog Day King, while your veggie soup and brown hoppy ale on a tray made you my Queen.Later, I joked with my friends about how much I'd like to spend some time in Kenya, and though the spelling was wrong, the sentiment was all heartfelt.
Lori: You were a conquest, a test of my ego. That you went back to your boyfriend doesn’t diminish the fact that I stole you away, at least for a couple of weeks, and snatched you from my friend Greg’s grasp as well. I’ve behaved better since, but I was fourteen at the time, or so I rationalize.
You stood before the AC, a bronze vision after our summer run, then back to your place, where you changed into a loose shirt, letting me put my hand underneath, leading me to the promised land.
As I got to know more about Jianyun, I found that, in addition to being the most beautiful wisp of a girl I’d ever known, Jane was absolutely brilliant. Her ideas -- peppered with a sweet sentimentality -- took my breath away. She broke my heart when she told me she could never be with someone who wasn’t Chinese, despite my best efforts to convince her I am.
Siobhan: She’s the current freak on American Idol: a goofy, edgy, nerdy, pretty girl with pipes of gold, and my current celebrity crush. She slays from week to week, dressed like God-knows-what, taking on Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder, then follows with her stilted talk and east coast vernacular. She’s a nerd-boy’s dream – leather, lace, and probably a touch of latex – and when those dark eyes shed a tear, she becomes Ally Sheedy redux: the perfect storm of strength, vulnerability, awkwardness, hipness, talent, sex appeal, and fudge. Maybe not fudge. But she is delicious.
The Indian Girl in the Cafeteria: I watched you today as you crossed the cafeteria – I saw your flawless skin, cat eyes, turned up nose, fantasy curves, and perfect saunter, with your hair flowing free – tossed by some imaginary unseen wind – and a trailing scent that would make a grown man forget his own name. You never paused; you moved with purpose and out the door, leaving behind a memory of a glimpse of a dream of a heaven. A moment of perfection.
I looked away, and saw every other man do the same. I wish I knew your name.
Karen: Two teenagers meet at a party, and do what two teenagers do. We played around a lot in the six months we spent together; my only regret is that we didn’t get to know each other better, because you were one of the nicest people I’ve ever known. I also liked those nights in your basement, and the sins that you dismissed with a promise to attend confession in the morning. Years later, my wedding announcement was next to yours in the paper, and if I could, I’d have leaned over and said hi.
Lourdes: She was ten years my junior, reporting through me on a tricky implementation that was laden with ambiguity -- full of Generation Y anxiety over her performance and evaluation criteria. A nice girl, hard worker with gold-standard hair, but a little too uptight. Shortly before she left the company, I took some of the locals to a concert, and Lourdes unleashed her outside voice – what a fun little party girl she turned out to be. The night before she left, we went out to Hollywood, and she slept on my shoulder on the way home. I learned too late.
Alyssa: On Saturdays, I go to the dry cleaner to drop off my shirts, where I’m usually greeted by Alyssa, a tiny little thing with a wisp of blonde hair and librarian glasses, who makes up in curves what she lacks in height. She can’t reach the shirt rack, so she climbs her five feet up onto a stool, putting herself on display – or perhaps on a pedestal – and I can’t complain the view. Joy of joys when she can’t find them, and so she lingers. Thank you Sweetie. See you next week.
Linda: My first real girlfriend, a cool funny girl with dark hair and a pretty face. We hung out a lot that summer, whether I rode my bike 3-1/2 miles to you, or you came down to me. I loved cracking jokes, dancing at the Disco Kid, and messing around behind the giant pipe at the playground with you.When school started, you broke my heart when you told me the bikerides were too far and infrequent, and you returned my leather bracelet. Years later, I’d see you in the paper, and I was always proud.
"If I don’t make that flight, I’m dead," you told me. "Alan will throw my stuff to the curb and I’ll never see him again."
We arrived at the gate, breathless, before the door was closed, but instead of boarding, you stopped, looked at me deep and asked, "what if I don’t get on?"
We both knew the answer – you had no choice – and now you’ve gone on with your life. But it was nice pretending for a while.
Cheryl: There’s no point in sugar-coating it: you walked away better than anyone I’ve ever known. From time to time, I thought about saying mean things to you, just so I could watch you turn and walk away, but then I’d also have to endure the pout, and while that was cute, it also made me a little sad. Maybe the only thing on par with your retreat was your return, as I loved that big flirty smile coming toward me. And then walk away. Walk away, walk away, walk away.God damn, that’s beautiful.
Syma: From day one, you were the cutest, wrapped up in your little suit, all professional and ready for business. I sat you in my office for the week, and the days grew brighter, as we all slowly got to know the little bits about you – your sly humor, fidgety stances, and that perfume that melted me to a puddle. And now, if I made a list of all the qualities of my ideal woman, I’d have to use a pencil while checking off your qualifications because you’d run my pen dry. There’s just one little problem.
Hopefully this June I’ll see you back in town – I can’t wait to be sixteen again, to breathe you back into my life, and start to fall in love again.
Kari Byron: Mythbuster. Kari left the show last year on maternity leave and the weeks just dragged. Last month, new mom Kari made a return, having shed the baby weight aside from a few extra glorious curves, and the show is back to number one on my list. Her face is a little too round to be beautiful in a classic sense, but she’s awful cute, smart, talented, goofy, and perfectly assembled. Last week she did a two-minute segment, walking around and describing the setup. I watched it four times, and still have no idea what she said.
Cheryl: She deserves a second time around, after I just talked about her butt the first time. On her first day at school, she showed up, introduced by a friend at the desk where I was working registration, looking smiley and cute. We chased eachother for the year, but a girl as cute as Cheryl didn’t last long without a boyfriend, so my chasing mostly ran me into walls. I spent the summer trying to reach her, but she’d left town and eventually returned with another boyfriend. I guess I was never the top of her list.
Pat: You walk into a room and every guy turns his head. Girls don’t notice because your appeal flies below the radar: a cute girl, not necessarily beautiful. Your voice, just a notch below a feminine standard, but not quite deep enough to stand out. Your smile is occasional but not exceptional. Your jeans, tight. Really tight. And strawberry blonde hair that’s begging to be mussed. Mussed hard. You drink beer, and say "fuck" when "fuck" needs to be said.You are sex personified. Don’t think I didn’t notice.Just don’t tell my girlfriend.
Farrah: Her red bathing suit set the standard. There were other poster queens: Cheryl Tiegs and her "I didn’t know it was see-through" fishnet, and the platinum doll Loni. But Farrah ruled the roost, with that glorious smile and tousled golden tresses, allegedly spelling out the word she undoubtedly conjured in the minds of millions of young boys. She was beautiful, plump, and glistening – a melange of sex and beauty, tinged with a childlike sweetness and subtle grace. Forty years later, she still set the standard for grace and beauty, and when she died, I was doubly sad.
Annie: She steps up onto my feet – a deliberate, welcome intrusion. She folds her arms around my neck, with mine around her waist, and we are nose to nose, breath matching breath. She presses herself against me – head to toe – forcing her essence into me as I drink her in. I drop a hand to the angular point of her hip and wrap the other around the arched small of her back, squeezing her hard. I breathe her in and time stops, as I try my best to never let her go.She pulls away, as I watch, and die.
Kristin: You hated when I called you Krissy, until I wouldn’t stop, then you tolerated it, and if I dare say, even liked it. From the night on my porch on the Fourth of July when you cleaned up the fried chicken ground into the carpet by our hooligan friends, and then listened to my tales of woe, to your feigned interest in my theory of multicolored highlighters, you have always supported my twisted view of the world. I have no filters for you and I love that. Krissy, I will never forget that the world revolves around you.
Katie: I had been messing around with another girl that I didn't like, and that was just coming to an end, so I had the perfect opportunity to ask out Katie to the Homecoming Dance without tipping my hand about how much I really liked her. Off we went to the dance – me in my only suit and boots that made me a few inches taller, and Katie in her nicest dress. At the end of the night, we kissed – quickly and sweetly – and said goodnight, as I walked back to my car with my cards safely tucked away.
23 years later, I'm talking to Katie about her little girl and our lives since high school, and I'm looking into those beautiful eyes and thinking, "I really messed that up." It's all there in her eyes: a blazing intelligence and a curiosity about the world. There's compassion, humor and warmth, tempered with a little touch of vulnerability that takes my breath away. While it's likely that I've built her up to legendary status, I know she's not perfect -- but I think she's pretty darn close. With eyes that I could fall into. And I thought I was over her.
Carmel: At six feet tall, she was a natural LA girl, though she was made in Texas. An accountant with bookish glasses, an understated beauty, and a pinup’s figure, she was a classic naughty librarian: a serious girl with a devilish side. I loved her unbridled curiosity about the world around her, and the hours we spent on the phone were never repetitious or dull; she even made accounting fun.
If only she were 5 feet tall instead of 6 feet tall, we’d be picking out names for our kids right now. I miss you, Tall Girl Tex.
So yeah, I guess I love me, too. Sue me.