He was the only boy in high school that I wanted. He was the star of the class of ’69. He played tennis in his white shorts. He played varsity football. He was in all the Advanced Placement classes. (So was I.) But he thought fast and critically and spoke up a lot. I rarely said anything. It was still the days when boys ruled classroom discussions.
I wanted his attention from ninth grade through twelfth. I wanted this rising star to want me by his side. He was broad-shouldered, dark of skin with dark brown hair. He was hairy. He was student body president. Of course.
Whenever he was near, I talked louder and laughed more. He appeared not to notice, but, knowing the way high school society works, I bet people told him I “liked” him. He liked the slim girl with the thick, long blonde hair. She was also in the A.P. classes. She had a wide smile, a sprinkling of freckles and was quiet but smart. She became a flag girl. I was friendly to her because it brought me closer to him.
And then in my senior year, my mother’s cancer and the treatments forced her to stay home. The high school grapevine probably passed that news around as well. My seventh-period teacher often let me go home early. On the way home, I’d sometimes walk by his house. I don’t think I was much help at home that year. I did do the grocery shopping. I did cook–sometimes. Mostly I nursed my crush, played the guitar, and listened to Donovan records in my room.
But sometime before graduation, he called and asked me out. After accepting quietly with great self-control, I hung up the phone and shrieked, “Daddy! He asked me out!”
The date was for a show at the L.A. Music Center. I can’t remember what performance it was, a play or a concert. I fussed about what to wear, but I don’t remember what I wore either. I know that my father waited up for me, and when The Crush walked me to my door and we paused at the top of the stairs, my father turned on the porch light and opened the door. So much for my longed-for good night kiss.
When I look back on that evening, I believe it was a pity date. I imagine his mother saying, “Your father is too busy, and we have these tickets. Why don’t you take Kim? She’s having a hard time right now. I’m sure she’d like to get out of the house for a while.” It speaks to his kindness that he asked.
The summer before college, I went to summer school at U.C. Santa Cruz. I took to wearing Mexican blouses with no bra, and ragged bell-bottom jeans. Let my hair go curly-frizzy. When I came home in August, he called me. Or maybe I called him? I went to his house, and we made out on the basement sofa. He was a lousy kisser (by now I had some basis for comparison). All spit and sloppy lips. And when I wouldn’t go further, he complained about blue balls and how uncomfortable he was.
In the fall, I went to U.C. Irvine. My mother died in November.
He went to Harvard. Got a law degree like his dad. I knew he stayed on the East Coast, but just last week, I googled him.
He never practiced law. He wrote a book or more, and he writes a blog of political commentary. He went bald. And he voted for Trump in 2016. I’m still affronted. How could I have had a crush on someone who would vote for Trump?