Young Love/ First Love/
Filled With True Devotion
Big Red day is coming up again.No, not a day honoring Communism; it’s Valentine’s Day, and another one is coming up hard and fast.
I always get a little misty when Feb. 14th starts to loom.Not because Mongo has showered me every year with wheelbarrows full of red roses and huge heart shaped candy boxes.Nor has he adorned my lily whites with flashing red ruby rings.No, the cause of my mistiness is my remembering a boy named Roger Baron.
It was way back in the fourth grade and I was 9 years old.Nine! Oh, was I ever that young?I guess I was, but let’s get back now to the young stripling who to this day, seventy-two years later, still makes my eyeballs fill when the second week of February gets closer.He was my beloved first love Roger Baron was, and as we all know, we never can forget our first loves, right?
Back then, Valentine’s Day was a big deal in school and we were instructed to create Valentines for all the kids in our class so no one would be left out.Of course, we sophisticated young ladies of the fourth-grade persuasion, future Feminists, Glass Ceiling Smashers and Bra Burners, managed to save the extra special Valentine cards for the extra special boys to whom we had given our hearts, even if those boys had no clue they’d been hearted.We made those corny cards for all other class members, writing “Guess who?” and “????” on most of them, sliding the fragile missives with embarrassingly gushy poems on them into red envelopes, sealing them and writing the givee’s name on the front.We labored to disguise our handwriting which was a wasted exercise since our handwriting was already terrible.
But that Valentine’s Day back then was special. I coyly walked into Miss Reynolds’s class room, pretending to not really notice the pile of red, white, red, gold and red cards scattered on my desk top.One, however, was bigger and thicker than the others, and with elaborate boredom, pretending it wasn’t of the least interest to me, I tore it open.Inside was a beautiful, lacey Valentine with a huge question mark as signer.My pal Marjorie across the aisle, always good at wrecking the moment, hissed at me, “that big card came from Roger.He LIKES you!”So as not to be rude, I felt compelled to instantly like him back.
Poor dark-haired handsome Roger sat several rows away from me because his last name began with a B and mine with an R (for Richardson) and he kept his blushing face to the wall.Having been so quickly smitten, I waited not very patiently for recess where I craftfully ambushed him on his way out to the swing sets and asked him what his intentions were.He looked at his shoes and told me he loved me and that he one day expected to marry me. Wahooie!I was betrothed!The long wait was finally over!
Roger recovered from his shyness and spent the rest of the school year displaying his adoration of me by pelting me with blackboard erasers, tripping me in the classroom, knuckle punching me on the upper arm, giving me noogies whenever I walked past him, placing upturned thumbtacks on my chair, putting toads in my desk, knocking my papers all over the floor, and carefully pointing out to all the other boys on the playground that my underpants were showing when I was on the swing.In all the world of courtship, has there ever been such a display of true love?It is doubtful.
Bruised and happy,I’d walk home from school every afternoon planning our nuptials.Roger was Jewish and I was Episcopalian and I pondered a lot on whether this would be a problem, and which religion our dog should follow, should we have one.And children? I figured four would be a nice lot, two Episcopalian and two Jewish.That seemed a good balance of things, although I never did actually discuss it with Roger, instinctively understanding that even back then, these decisions are best left to the wife.
In time Roger’s ardor cooled and so did mine as I turned my passions toward Douglas and Ned and lots of others.But I never forgot my first wedding plans and Roger’s endless displays of lusty ardor that ended with my being bruised and hopelessly, dreamily love-struck.We young girls never could figure out why boys at that age showed their love by smashing us with things, but so it was, and so I understand still is.
Several years and several dozen crushes later I saw Roger at a golf driving range.There he was, dear, darling, still beautiful Roger Baron, slamming those balls into forever, his swing professional and perfect. He saw me, we chatted, he gave me a few pointers on my golf swing but didn’t do it the way they do in the movies ---you know, standing behind me with his arms around me, my back to him, the side of his face pressing against mine, showing me how to swing the club properly, our lips barely inches apart.No, he just stood nearby and gave me gentle, quiet instructions and politely advised me that I was “a natural.”Roger told me that afternoon that he was preparing himself to become a professional golfer so I faithfully watched the sports section of our local paper to see if his face would show up.Oh he’d become so tall and handsome.But alas, after a few days of diligent scouring of our local newspaper sports sections and he wasn’t there, I gave up.Maybe he became a golf pro at one of those wealthy resorts.I hope so. I hear that’s a most lucrative gig.I’ll bet when he taught the ladies there how to swing he did it like they do it in the movies!
Ahhh, young, sweet, first love.There’s nothing like it, not ever again in one’s lifetime.So tender and innocent.So painful.Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone and to you too Roger Baron, wherever you are.
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