Friday, May 31, 2013

#678: First Girl I Loved

Her name was Connie Elliott. It was the Fall of 1974. I was 15, hanging out in Boise with my lawbreaking half-brother Jay, stealing small change, grabbing gas cans out of people's garages & generally being stupid. Connie was a friend of our friends -- cute, short & quiet, with long curly brown hair. She hardly ever said a word unless you asked her a direct question.
On Friday nights we used to fill Jay's huge red van with the entire gang & hang out at the Meridian Drive-In. We hardly ever saw the movie -- there was too much other drama going on. The first time Connie was left alone in the van with me, she started grilling me with questions: Who was with who? What does Jay think of Debbie (Connie's older sister)? Is he in love with her? Oh, & why wasn't I With anyone?
This of course grabbed my attention.
Next time I saw her was at her home, where she & I & Jay & Debbie & the half-dozen others in our gang sprawled across the family-room floor, gabbing & eating & relaxing.
At some point I heard a voice come from over my shoulder: "Could I maybe sneak through here...?" & I said "Sure, come through if you can GET through...." & moving past me was Connie's uncle, who tipped the scales at maybe 300 pounds.
& I looked at Connie & she was already laughing, & I said "Oh, I didn't mean it like THAT," & then she REALLY started laughing, until she was crying & she leaned over onto the floor, gasping 4 breath. Everybody else got quiet wondering what they'd missed.
& a friendship was born.
I thought she was great -- mainly because she actually TALKED to me, she didn't think I was too dorky to bother with. & this was a shock, because I was scared to death of girls, didn't know how to approach, didn't know what to say, was still way too nervous.
Connie tried. We liked talking with each other, spent HOURS on the phone, always had some laughs no matter how weird things got or how much drama was going on in The Gang. She always wanted to know what I THOUGHT about things. She tried to teach me how to dance -- but she gave up when she learned how unbelievably clutzy I was.
That's all that happened, because I wasn't sure what else to do. She was two years younger than me, but had already been through a LOT more.
We continued to hang-out at the drive-in. One cold night I screwed-up all my courage & wrapped an arm around Connie's shoulders -- she was out in December without a coat. She seemed to snuggle in closer & said: "You know, you can move your arm down LOWER, if you want to...." & I wanted to. But I was scared to death. & I stayed where I was. Because I was an idiot.
We never kissed, we never even held hands.
A couple months later, after LOTS more drama in our bunch, I finally told Connie how I felt -- I thought maybe she'd be open to putting up with a geek like me. I said the words "I love you." I said I'd never met anyone like her, that it still shocked me how easily we could talk with each other.
& she waved me off. "I'll just hurt you," she said. I said I didn't see how she could. But Connie did. Soon after she took up with my brother....
After that she tried to set me up with her sister, & though Debbie was nice, we both knew we weren't with who we wanted to be with.... Connie & Jay didn't last. After much more drama, we all drifted apart.
The J. Geils Band's "Must of Got Lost" became the theme song for the relationship Connie & I didn't quite have -- & we both knew it.
I visited her house once, a few months after. Connie & Debbie were both running around in shorts & summer tops, & I was struck again by what a knockout she was. But Connie sort of kept her distance....
A year or so later, as an April Fool's joke, Connie called me out of the blue & claimed to be pregnant. There was a LONG silence at my end of the phone. "But, I, uh, we never even...." Then Connie started laughing & we talked for an hour for the first time in ages. It was almost like old times. But there were no sequels.
At one point my folks moved into a house a mile down the road from Connie's. & though I always wondered what she was doing, I never checked in on her. I had long ago received the clear message that she was way ahead of me, maturity-wise....
Then, looking through the newspaper one day, I saw that Connie'd had a baby. Then she got a marriage license. She was married with a child, at age 16. ...& her husband was a guy I'd had a class with in highschool.
Years went by. I read quite awhile back that Connie's husband had died young, in his early 30s. That was over 20 years ago. But I've got no idea what ever happened to Connie, the first girl I ever said "I love you" to.
Connie, if you're Out There somewhere, drop me a line. The Geek still remembers you. I'm way better at Talking, these days. I can even dance, a little. Sort of. Slow dance, at least. I was dancing at work just last night....

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