In our high school years, is there anything more stressful, more demanding or more public than our love lives? If you ‘go with someone’, everyone knows about it. Breakup; it’s buzzed from ear to ear in a rate equaling the speed of a Japanese bullet train. Today it’s even more public and faster; relationships begin at school, (or maybe Tinder if you’re older), they’re announced in Facebook, (sometimes with a “marriage”), and break ups are coordinated in Facebook so as to help the breakup end cordially, without additional drama. In my day, it was no less stressful, but the act of breaking up was not as immediate as it is today. Oh no – you got to see it coming, carefully stalking you like a cheetah on a gazelle and then when you knew that it was all over, BAM, your heart was suddenly being chewed on.
In the last story about my relationship with Kim, I wrote about my asking her to go steady with me. (Feel free to read it here if you missed it). I’ve had my share of high school rejections, (including one whose response was “why?” when I asked to walk her home one day). So when a girl I ‘liked’ accepted the going steady invitation, it was a very big deal.
Over the course of the previous 12 months I had lost a long term girlfriend (offered here), had started and stopped (cold turkey) smoking far too much pot (read me), had dropped a hundred spots in class GPA rankings and had gained and lost a few friends. If you’re following along the timeline, the year was still 1974. Tenth grade had come and gone and it was summertime in Hamilton, Ohio. I was spending a number of weekends at my best friend Terry’s house out in Millville, Ohio and almost every Friday, (and often Saturday as well), night at the skating rink.
I’ve mentioned the skating rink before and there will one day be an entire story dedicated to the rink adventures. In terms of ‘hanging out’, the skating rink was, I thought, the best thing going for kids in Hamilton back in my day. We had a couple of theaters which were good for dates and we had a few local restaurants such as Frisch’s Big Boy and Jolly’s Root Beer stands, both of which came complete with car hops, girls who would bend over to give you your order and hope to get a larger tip, (uh, that still works today). But I wasn’t yet driving and if you didn’t drive but wanted to mingle with the opposite sex, then the skating rink was the coolest thing going.
Kim and I both were skaters so as we had begun our relationship, hanging out together at the skating rink was not only convenient, but was a really fun evening. Many times I would come with Terry, who was driving and had a car, and Kim would be hanging out with her friend Jennifer and maybe also her sister Traci. Our summertime relationship consisted mostly of speaking with each other on the phone most nights, spending the weekend nights at the rink and the occasional love letter exchange. I was in love. At least I think I was. I hadn’t yet said it to Kim. I remember being afraid to say it, afraid of not hearing it returned….a story for later.
Kim was not sure of her feelings for me; at least that’s my interpretation of our past. Her previous boyfriends I would describe as having more in the category of brawn – whereas, I was more of the class clown category and I did have a few ‘book smarts’. I am writing this without an interview of Kim, so you’re getting my impressions. I sensed that I made Kim laugh, that we had fun together, that the chemistry was good and above all, I think she liked the level of attention I doled out to her. I just don’t think I filled out the mold for the type of boy she had in mind for a long-term steady so with that said, I had the feeling that a breakup was looming. In fact, I think I remember a few clues being thrown my way, a few hints to let me know it was coming. You know, comments like “you’re ok for now I guess” and “well, if someone else better doesn’t come along soon, I guess I can let you pay my way into the theater next weekend”. Remember, I have book smarts – it takes a lot of savvy and book smarts to read between the lines of comments like those and well, since I have them, I was able to pick up on the hints. As such, I had been mentally preparing myself for the big letdown. The night of the big letdown was to occur on a Friday or Saturday night at the skating rink.
It was a weekend night and as usual, Kim and I were having a ‘rink date’. I had been picking up on some ‘hey, I’m getting ready to drop you’ vibes previous to this night. I had been mentally preparing myself for this evening. I was so head over heels for Kim, but a guy can only do so much. You cannot “make” a person love you, (well, not unless you have a big underground basement well and a dog named Precious). I felt I had been showing Kim my true feelings and putting forward the best foot I possibly could. I showered her with affection and attention in the best manner any high school kid could. But I recognized when a dumping was about to occur and like everyone else, I had my own level of self-pride – I sensed the dumping was going to occur and I decided that I was not going to grovel or beg. If she couldn’t see how good Rob Wyatt is and was to be, then so be it!
At some point in the evening, Kim and I chose to sit over on the far side of the skating oval where there was a single line of bucket chairs which were fairly private. Having built up her courage and resolve, Kim slipped off my ID bracelet from her wrist and handed it back to me, telling me that she wanted to break up.
In general, I had felt our short term relationship had been going very well. Up to this point, we hadn’t had a serious argument. We seemed to be aligned on our long term goals – both of us wanted something more beyond what high school and Hamilton had to offer. We had an easy time on the phone together, we both loved participating in sports and we seemed to be very strongly aligned in the ‘first-base-chemistry’ department.
Perhaps all of these factors were being considered by Kim when I uttered my response to her while she was holding out the bracelet. “So…..what does is mean? Do you not want me to call you anymore, not hang out with you at school any longer….what?”
Intermission Time – I think this is the funniest movie breakup and hope you enjoy
A semi-long pause, perhaps 30 seconds……(tic-tic, tic-tic, tension mounting)…
“Well…..I guess you could still call me.”
At that, I jumped inside! On the exterior, I didn’t change expressions and I didn’t act overly grateful. Inside however, I was very literally thrilled. It was the feeling of victory and not the agony of defeat! I remember lying in bed that night, thinking about what had occurred that evening. She had tried to let me go and had changed her mind. Just like that! She wanted to leave me and had reconsidered….. – why? She must like me; that’s the only real reason I could come up with.
Things were different after that night. Kim stopped sending me these weird little ‘I’m-getting-ready-to-drop-you’ vibes I had been picking up on. Kim doesn’t easily share her deepest thoughts, never has. I came to my own conclusion about this early turning point in our relationship – I was making her feel special and who doesn’t like to feel special? She must have finally begun sensing something in me or in us. She was all set to cut me loose; she even went through the motions and I was ready to accept defeat. But it didn’t happen. Is there such a thing as destiny in our otherwise little, meaningless lives?
There would be drama in our future and it was right around the corner, but for now she kept the bracelet.