Continued from spin cycle.
Laundry room soap cleaned up and floor sporting a bit of sheen, we went our separate laundry ways. G climbed three levels back to her room, the very reason for her initial irritation with me.
Before our encounter, G scoped out the laundry room for open machines. Spotting one, she scurried up the three flights, hurried down the hall, grabbed her soiled clothing and hurried back down – to find me into the machine.
Oblivious to her expended effort and plight of laundry futility, her reciprocal stare down pissed me off as much as my usage of the machine annoyed her. Post clean-up she managed a relieved smile. We shared names; she thanked me. New to college, but three weeks in, I was a veteran starting my fourth year. The rookie, the veteran.
G formed an attractive package, from thick, black, mid-back length hair to a tiny Bob Hope ski jump nose, one I soon learned had its septum deviated, a condition that necessitated repair (as mine was, decades later.) Despite her initial Cruella Deville temperament, she morphed into personable and intriguing. A couple of days later, I stopped by for a visit.
Laundry comedy could break ice if words failed, but words worked, hers and mine. Somewhere in the days ahead, we caught a movie, went to one of the dances put on at the Student Union, and drank our fair share at the school pub.
In 1973, New Hampshire lowered the drinking age to 18 – fortuitously, right after I turned 18. In response and desirous of keeping party heathens on campus, the school allowed a small pub to open in the Student Union, one by membership only, seating somewhere around 70. In the mid-1970s, it became the seventh highest purveyor of draught beer in the state. My membership card read something like 0016 at the bottom. You figure out where the number put me in the sign up queue.
Anyway, by 1975, the Pub served as central meeting spot for those wishing to hang and chat over a brew, once one navigated the waiting line outside. From 2-4PM, draughts cost all of a quarter apiece, one whole quarter of one dollar. We spent a few nights in the Pub, her, me, and three others – her roommate K, across the hall friend S, and refugee from another dorm, ME. Not me, I’m a different me – M.E.
Through the fall, we played and we partied. The five of us hung out almost every night of the week, but between us two, things failed to progress – G wasn’t certain, especially with a semi-boyfriend at home. Over Christmas break, I decided enough, and planned to jettison any interest beyond our friendship – if she wasn’t interested, I had no intention of grovelling.
A couple of weeks after the start of spring semester, I’d begun to date someone else, we met through a friend. Said friend served as a resident assistant, and decided to throw a party for his new minions, inviting several of us from outside the dorm. There I’d met T, and things took off quickly.
A problem lurked. G, the gang, and I were still tight. After leaving T on any given night, I’d go over and hang with the Gang of Five, and as you might expect, this created a bit of friction with T, but… friends are friends.
About a month in, one of the others wished to talk with me privately, and it set in motion another round of craziness, this time creating an entangled relationship mess. Shocked and a tad dumbfounded as I listened to K, she informed me G had moved past uncertainty, and…
…I was in a relationship with someone else. My grand plan after learning this best describes as akin to don’t ask, don’t tell – say and do nothing, because it threw me for a loop. A day or two later, at the infamous Pub, G signalled she wanted to talk to me. We headed outside, where she confessed she’d fallen, months late. G began to cry, and I pulled her into my arms, offering comfort, wondering what sort of crazy stew I stirred.
Right as T walked past, not ten feet away.
Nothing happened right then, but drama sure as hell ensued later, and persisted. T swore she saw me kiss G, but well… no way. Two days later, we agreed to meet at – you guessed it – the Pub for a summit. By the time T arrived, I’d consumed half the tap supply, and the result reflected my wanton overconsumption. Playing a jerk for not the last time in my life, I told her to stuff her accusations and to get lost.
Yassee, I didn’t want her to get lost.
G and I talked again a month later. T wasn’t talking to me then, nor would she for months still. Months. She refused to believe my version of what happened. If only iPhones existed then, we’d probably have instant replay. See, right here G cries, right here I hug her, and see, no kiss…NO KISS!!!
Nevertheless, we didn’t have iPhones, we only had eyes and memories – differing memories, hers versus mine, and my version lost.
In my chat with G, in one of the more difficult moments of my life, I told her it wouldn’t work, we’d gone too far as friends, I’d gone too far with T. In truth, it wasn’t as clear-cut as those words made it sound, and it ripped hard at me before and even after. She accepted this, and understood it worked best that way. T, somewhere in July, three months later, finally opened the door again, and….we lasted 27.5 years, until my gender issues ripped us apart, a new hell for her even as I endured my own.
G, two years after I left school and one before T and I married, sent me a letter lamenting how things all played out through the fall and spring of that year. She regretted it, missed me, and wished it had all turned out differently. I did not respond, mostly because it would serve no good purpose, thinking back on the misunderstanding. I threw her letter away. Our connection started in such a crazy way, and while not as amusing, nonetheless ended as potential viable intimacy in no less a whacky way.
And now, I know she was the lucky one to avoid my ship, an inevitable Titanic on a slow sail toward oblivion.