Soon, I’m going to have dinner with an ex- fiancé. It’s been 50 years since he unceremoniously dumped me one night at church, minutes before I was to sing a solo. The break up was unexpected. I had thought things were fine between us and had every good reason to hope for a bright future together. Ironically, the song I selected that night was “Whispering Hope.” I got through the performance, then ran from the church to do my crying in the parking lot.
So, you’re saying, “Good grief, woman, that was a half century ago. Why are you bringing that up now?”
Ever had a memory that streams from your eyes and flows down your cheek? I don’t know who originally said that quote, but I can identify with it. I’m still remembering that handsome, young son of a preacher man who broke my heart.
When I taught American Literature, one of the stories in the textbook was “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall” by Katherine Porter. It’s a tale of a dying old woman who has had a good life with a loving husband and several successful, adoring children. But her final thoughts are of George, the man who left her at the altar on their wedding day. The humiliation of rejection has frequently visited her thoughts over the years. Now she wants to see George and tell him that she’s never forgotten him, but has had a rich life. She wants him to know that she has everything he took from her. Yet, even in her old age, she struggles with her “wounded vanity.”
Well, anyway, when I got word from him that he was coming to Destin for a short visit and wanted to see me, my “wounded vanity” was also stirred up. Like Granny, I have had a great life with a wonderful, loving husband and two sons of whom I am very proud. I have a beautiful granddaughter who fills my heart and soul with immeasurable joy. And I couldn’t ask for a better daughter-in-law. I also have friends I can call at two o’clock in the morning for help. I had a good career that allowed me to touch the lives of thousands of young people.
God’s mysterious ways have always worked to my good.
Nevertheless, I’ll arrange for someone to stay with my invalid husband while I take the fellow and his wife out to a very nice dinner. I have a lot to say to him, and I have no problem telling him how he hurt me and how it continues to vex me whenever I think back on that night.
Hmmm. Should I wait until his wife goes to the powder room?
In my evil mind, I’m hoping I’ll discover that losing him was actually no loss at all. And I’m hoping he’ll take one look at me and realize he was an idiot for letting me go.
My pathetic little tale reminds me that memory and reality often clash at some point of impact. Since I love a good example story, here’s how I’ll close my present flight of fancy:
There once was a lady sitting in a dentist’s waiting room for her first appointment with him. She noticed his DDS diploma on the wall and realized his full name was the same as a long-ago classmate. Suddenly, she remembered a tall, handsome, dark-haired boy she had dated some 50-odd years ago. She became flushed with excitement to see him again in just a few minutes. She fluffed up her hair, freshened her makeup, and applied a little dab of perfume.
Upon seeing him, her heart sank. He was a balding, gray-haired man with a deeply lined face. No, this couldn’t have been the same boy she loved so long ago. After he examined her teeth, she asked him if he went to Wolverine High. “Yes, yes, I did,” he replied.
“When did you graduate?” she asked.
He responded, “In 1963.” The woman then realized he was indeed her old boyfriend and exclaimed, “You were in my class!”
He looked at her very closely as if remembering her.
Then, that old, fat, ugly, balding, wrinkled-faced, gray-haired, insensitive pig of a man asked,
“What subject did you teach?”
Mary Ready of Destin is a twice-retired English teacher and long-time area resident. Her columns are published on Saturdays.