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Teach
01-16-2018, 04:17 PM
"Walter, I’ve got something important to tell you.” I thought to myself, “What has Barbara got to say that’s so important?”

Weeks earlier, I’ve had taken my seat on that first day of classes at a Boston-area college. I was a graduate student in that summer of ’65. I remember -- just before the class started – that I glanced off to my right. I immediately spotted a beautiful, young woman. She was striking. Stunning. A round, angelic face that was framed by a page-boy look. Sunglasses were perched on her forehead. My heart skipped a beat. My first thought was: “I’ve got to meet her.”

As our professor was going over the course syllabus, I was sneaking glances at this lovely co-ed. If my eyes were iron filaments, Barbara’s face was the magnet.

The next day, even before our class started, the burning question was: “How do I meet her?” My attempt to broach a conversation is made even more difficult by the fact that I’m admittedly shy. Reticent. Awkward. Especially when it comes to women. Yet, I’m thinking, “I can’t let her get away. I just can’t.” That day’s class came to an end.

As students are exiting the classroom, my “dream-girl” is walking right in front of me. I happen to notice that she’s carrying a paperback entitled “The Jungle.” I had read this Upton Sinclair novel about the abuses of the Chicago meat-packing industry in one of my undergraduate history classes. I knew, at that instant, that I had to say something. It was: “Now or never.” This was my chance.

It was at that instant I blurted out three words, “Pretty gory stuff!” Barbara nodded her head in agreement. That was “the ice-breaker”. We began to strike up a conversation.

In the days that followed, we’d go to the school’s cafeteria after class for coffee and conversation. I would learn that Barbara lived with her family in a town south of Boston. She told me she wanted to become an elementary-school teacher. It was during one of those early cafeteria sessions that I asked her out.

It was at that time that Barbara suggested that instead of a going to a movie (I had suggested it), that I come to her parents’ apartment for a home-cooked chicken dinner. I remember telling Barbara, “That’s fine.”

Well, I didn’t want to show up empty-handed; yet, what do I bring? My mother (she worked at a Boston florist shop) suggested a single red rose in a tube of water (I would learn later from a teaching colleague who had been stationed in Germany that, in some parts of Germany, bringing a fraulein a single red rose was tantamount to an engagement proposal).

That evening of our first date, I remember walking up the stairs to Barbara’s parents’ second-floor apartment. Barbara opened the door. She looked radiant. She lit up the room. Her face could have graced the cover of Cosmopolitan Magazine. I remember handing Barbara the signal red rose. She smiled. I then recall Barbara saying, “Thank you, Walt.” She added, “That was very thoughtful of you.” At that moment, I was on “Cloud Nine”.

It was then that Barbara introduced me to her parents and her younger sister. Soon after, Barbara’s parents and sister left to do some errands.

Moments later, Barbara and I sat down to the chicken dinner she had prepared. It was delicious. Afterward, we sat, side-by-side, in the living room and talked. I must say that the excitement I felt for Barbara was building to a crescendo. At that moment, I felt like a volcano that was about to erupt.

As I recall, Barbara was wearing a red slip that was peeking out from under her skirt. I then remember trying to put my arm around Barbara when, all of the sudden, my forearm hit one of her mother’s potted plants (pottery shards and dirt flew everywhere; I felt like a complete clod). I recall Barbara made a joke of it, something about her mother not liking the plant but not wanting to throw it out. “Now she had an excuse,” Barbara said.

In the weeks that followed, Barbara and I would see each other in class and would go out on dates Saturday evenings. I remember we went to plays, movies, and out to eat. Yet, one date, in p[articular, will always stand out. I recall that I took Barbara miniature golfing. We had finished early. It was then that I had remembered that a Boston friend had invited me (and a date, if I had one) to come to his house for his 23rd birthday party.


In the next hour or so, Barbara and I danced, had a couple drinks, and chatted with the guests. It was then that I suggested that we leave.


When we reached my car, I recall opening the door for Barbara and then just sitting for a moment before putting the key in the ignition. It was then that I said to Barbara, “I’m mesmerized by you.” I added, “I can’t take my eyes off of you.” I then looked over at Barbara. She looked back. I recall in that instant that we shared a moment that only two people who are about to become romantically involved can appreciate. Soon, we were locked in an amorous embrace. It was wonderful. Idyllic. A warm summer night. A beautiful woman. A romantic interlude. I was in heaven. I literally had to pinch myself to be sure I wasn't fantasizing. Oh, how I wish I could have bottled those fifteen or twenty minutes. I know I would have held on to them, forever.

The next day, I was talking with one of my best friends. I remember telling him that I had met a beautiful woman that I had fallen head over heels for. I then said, “Howie, I believe I've met my soul-mate.”


Two weeks later, just as our summer course was coming to an end, I took Barbara to the movies. We then headed toward a town South of Boston that had a “parking” area we simply called “Chicky”.


As we sat in my car, I remember putting my arm around Barbara. It was then that she said, “Walter, I have something important to tell you.” At that moment I began thinking, “What is it that Barbara wants to tell me?” Seconds later, Barbara said, “Walter, I don’t think we’re right for each other.” I was shocked. Stunned. I felt as if someone had just taken a sledge hammer and had repeatedly whacked me over the head. I was numb. Devastated. It was if I were a balloon that had been filled with love, joy, and happiness and, just then, someone had suddenly let out all the air. I began to cry. Tears were streaming down my face. Niagara Falls.

Moments later, I looked at Barbara and said, “Is there any hope for us?” She replied, matter-of-factly, “Where’s there’s life, there’s hope.” A short time later, I drove Barbara home. Well, I was so despondent that after I dropped Barbara off, I had thoughts of crashing my car into a telephone pole.

The next day, I wrote Barbara a lengthy letter. I pleaded for us to get back together. I remember comparing her to both the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo. Yet, I never did call. Oh, I do recall that just before I left for my new teaching job on Long Island, I swung by, unannounced, at Barbara’s parents’ apartment. I rang her doorbell. Barbara wasn’t home, but I did briefly speak with her mother.

I would see Barbara one more time when I had returned to Boston after teaching on Long Island. I remember we went to a movie and then to one of my favorite “watering holes,” a place called The Kismet Lounge on Boston’s Comm. Ave. Afterwards, we went back to my apartment. Although we kissed, the intensity just wasn’t there. The “magic” I felt we both shared had dissipated. I remember taking a Polaroid picture of Barbara. Yet, it wasn’t long after that the picture began to fade. It was a metaphor for what our relationship had become.

As a postscript, after that night at my apartment, I would never again see the woman with the angelic face. The woman who had so captivated me. That night when she told me “we weren’t right for each other” had, for all intents and purposes, ended our relationship. A relationship that I thought, at the time, might lead to matrimony.

HalvOnHorseracing
01-16-2018, 05:55 PM
If my eyes were iron filaments, Barbara’s face was the magnet.


I think you could read a hundred "bodice-rippers" and not come across a sillier simile.