If you have lived any length of time at all, you will have accumulated enough moments, memories of events, that you would just as soon forget, but somehow cannot. And, if you are like me, it has taken a very long time to even begin seeing the humor in those painful, gut-wrenching, tear-jerking (did I mention horridly embarrassing?) events.
We have all seen people slip and fall in public (no big deal, but sometimes funny), return from the restroom with toilet paper attached to their shoe, or who could resist laughing at the person — I say person now because I want to be politically correct. No, I’m just kidding. I don’t care who also exited the restroom with their dress tucked in their underwear? These moments are made all the funnier because it happens to someone else.
I must admit that exiting a vehicle in uptown during an ice storm and doing the splits repeatedly (yes, I was wearing cowboy boots) while trying to regain some self-respect is one of those horribly embarrassing moments I have personally experienced. When I finally made it to the side walk, and bear-hugged my way up a light pole and glanced back to the traffic stopped at the signal, it was no consolation that a person in each car held up a poster with scores ranging from 9.5 to 10.
You never think of a “Dear John” letter — a letter from a woman to a man terminating a relationship — being anything in which someone could find humor, and I confess, it took 45 years for me to see a glimpse of it, but I did. Eeven now I tear up when I think about it.
Love was young, and it came quite unexpectedly during the 16th year of my life. Many things were new, such as a driver’s license, a little new-found freedom, the flowers seemed to have a sweeter fragrance and the birds sang in three-part harmony (I made myself a little sick on that one).
A young lady, whose name shall remain anonymous, from a nearby state, was visiting my part of the country for the summer, and by chance meeting, we became fast friends. Friends may be a not so correct term, because for the better part of the summer, we were almost inseparable.
She and I both realized that summer would pass, and she would return home to her family, the beginning of a new school year and to her normal life. However, she might have made peace with that fact a little more than I had.
As the days of summer vacation melted away, we devised a plan that perhaps the 250 or so miles between our homes would be an occasional weekend trip that I could make, and shortly after she departed, my promise was put to the test, as she called and requested a weekend visit to meet her parents. It was a notion that I was not opposed to, but somehow made me a bit nervous. I should have listened to my intuition, but I didn’t even know I had an intuition.
GPS had not been invented, so I was able to squeeze the three-and-a-half to four-hour drive into six hours while trying to read my atlas and stopping to ask for directions every 10 miles or so.
Sometime much later than expected on a Friday evening I made the victory lap into her driveway.
As though they knew precisely the moment I would arrive, all her family greeted me with miles of smiles, and I felt welcome. I was fed well, made comfortable and my inner child spoke to my outer child and assured me my fears had been in vain.
Then came Saturday. Breakfast fit for a king was followed by a nice visit with her parents on the front porch over a cup of coffee. I wasn’t certain, but looking back, I believe the fellow with the paints and easel beneath the shade tree in the yard was Norman Rockwell. It was all that perfect.
My girlfriend joined us on the porch and remembering that I had mentioned needing to run into town to buy a few items, she asked me to drop some mail by the post office on my way. I readily agreed, she handed me a stack of letters bound by a rubber band, and I was on my way.
After church services on Sunday, we all said our goodbyes, and I climbed into my 1965 Rambler and headed home.
Three days later, on my way home from work, I stopped at our mailbox, and found a love letter from my girlfriend. I opened the letter, began to read and was overtaken by shock realizing that not only had I received the most abrupt Dear John Letter in history, but three days earlier, I had taken my own break-up letter to the post office and mailed it myself! Now that’s cold, I don’t care who you are.
Herb Day is a longtime local radio personality and singer-musician. He can be heard Tuesday mornings from 8 a.m. to noon on 88.7 WOBO-FM, and can be reached at HEKAMedia@yahoo.com.