When you get to be an old coot (coot=geezer) you sometimes remember isolated experiences from the past with more accuracy than you do your own phone number. If you’re a coot who also writes a blog, chances are good that those old memories will show up there sooner or later because you’re also less inhibited. Experiences that were once a little embarrassing now find the light of day, like this little tale about my high school days and an opportunity I might have figuratively slept through.
I wasn’t exactly Joe Smooth in those days. I wasn’t part of the ultra cool crowd and I wasn’t a nerd or a greasy-haired hood in a leather jacket. I was one of those in the middle. Got good grades and played football but otherwise was pretty much just taking up space.
Socially — as in dating — I was awkward and tongue-tied, and didn’t make much headway with girls. I went out once in a while but was not exactly a danger to the girl’s virtue. In fact, I remember one time a girl and I played miniature golf, and she kept asking for help with holding her club. When I moved to stand behind her, she kept pushing her derriere back into me. I finally said, “I can’t teach you if you don’t stop wiggling”. The rest of the date passed in icy silence.
So that’s pretty much how my high school years passed, and almost too soon it was the final day. Kids were streaming out of every door like a flood of animals departing Noah’s ark, but some were still hanging around looking to add signatures to their yearbooks. I don’t know if they still do that now, but graduating seniors would receive a hardbound glossy-paged book with everybody’s picture, and scenes from clubs, sports, etc. The custom was to cellect comments and signatures. For some reason, collecting a lot of signatures and comments was important to some people and I didn’t have very many in mine. I was just too diffident to push for them, preferring instead to stand alone and hope I wouldn’t get noticed. But then something happened. I felt a tap on my shoulder and a soft voice asked, “can I sign your yearbook?”
It was a girl I’d admired for a long time, but (of course) had barely spoken to, let alone pursued. She wasn’t one of the upper echelon in the school but she was smart and well-liked and cute as hell. Way out of my league, or so I’d always thought. Of course, signing my book wasn’t necessarily meaningful, so I mumbled a thank you and she left. It wasn’t until I finally opened the book that I read her comment. “Sorry we didn’t get to know each other sooner.”
I know it might have been a meaningless comment but to me it was an opportunity, even an invitation. I quickly ran out the door looking for her, just like a character in a teen angst movie. But she was gone, and life isn’t really like a movie, so I didn’t try to search for her. I was already getting cold feet, figuring she’d laugh at me if I did track her down. I never saw her again.