Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Memories of Old Friends

"Mike" was my best friends.  We got together almost daily when we were kids.  We both loved cars.  We had large collections of Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars, and we played with them for hours and hours at a time.  We could be found on his front porch, or my backyard, or just about anywhere, building massive cities for our cars, and coming up with wild scenarios, car accidents, theft rings, and other fun stuff.  We were completely lost in our little world of miniature cars.

Mike's little sister, "Lisa", was a pest.  She always tried to interrupt our fun, and would sometimes take our cars and hide them.  Lisa was only a year younger than Mike and me, but back then, she seemed a lot younger.

As we all got older, we drifted away from playing with our cars, but we still would hang out often.  During the school year, we had a huge gang concentrated out our house, and at the house next door.  At our house, it was me, sister Angie, brother Darren, and Jamie, Melissa, and Karen, who my mom "baby-sat" each day.  Next door, it was sisters Kim and Lynn, and Krista, Mike, and Lisa, who were "baby-sat" at their house.  Wow, did we have a lot of fun!  We usually had about 2 hours of playtime each day, before parents began arriving to take everyone home.  Many times, the girls all did their thing, and Mike and I did ours (we were the only boys, and my brother was too young to hang out with us).  But we would occasionally add some others from around the neighborhood, such as Carlton across the street, Joe around the corner, and Danny, who lived down the block, and we would play "murderball", or some other game, in the back yard.  Sometimes, a few of the girls joined us.  We could always count on Lisa.  It was great.

As we exited elementary school and matured, it was natural for us to begin pairing up.  Before graduating high school, I went out with several of the girls, and there were a lot of crushes.  Lisa was my biggest crush, and I really liked her a lot.  She was spunky.  She was a bit of a tomboy, but she cleaned up very nicely.  She was the classic "girl next door".  I didn't want to tell Mike I liked his sister, so I didn't tell him, which meant I never told Lisa, either.  But I pined for her, and loved any opportunity to spend time with her.  We were in the band together, but she was a cheerleader, too.  She was never tall, but that just made her even more cute to my eyes.  She was popular, and always had a boyfriend.  So I didn't even try.

Several years later, I was a student at the University of Maryland in College Park.  Lisa had been dating a guy from high school for a while, and they announced they were getting married.  The news caught me flat-footed, and I reacted by writing a letter to her, telling her how disappointed I was to hear the news, and proclaiming my love for her.  It wasn't the right thing to do, I know, but I was really angry at myself for never telling her how I felt, and jealous that someone else had won her heart.  She wrote back to me by telling me how flattered she was, and then she yelled at me (in all CAPS) for not telling her before then.  She said her mom had always hoped Lisa and I would end up together.

Lisa got married, and she and her new husband moved into an apartment just a few miles from campus.  I actually stopped in often to talk, but, in hindsight, it was not something I should've done.  I know her husband didn't like me being around, especially since he knew I had liked her.  I knew better about allowing anything to happen between us, and her husband needn't have worried, but the impression was that I was there for the wrong reasons.  Upon finishing my degree, I stopped seeing them, and didn't see Lisa for several years.

Out of the blue, in the mid-90s, I received a phone call from her.  I was surprised by her call, and even more surprised when she told me why she was calling:  her brother, Mike, was dating a young lady that she didn't like, and didn't think she was right for him.  She wanted to know if we could get together to talk about the situation.  I didn't know why she wanted to involve me, but I agreed, and we decided she would call me about a week later to set up a time.

The whole thing mystified me.  I was looking forward to seeing Lisa, and the fact she wanted to get together with me was a nice surprise, but I was baffled as to why she was involving me in something about her brother.  I hadn't talked to Mike in a long time, much longer than Lisa.  A week later, Lisa called again and suggested we get together at the local Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) lodge (her father was a police officer, so the family had access to the lodge through him) on the upcoming Saturday evening.  I said okay.  On Saturday, about an hour before we were scheduled to meet, she called me again (keep in mind, this is before the age of cell phones) to let me know she was running late, and that we would have to meet later, but that she would call me when she was available.  I waited for her call, and about an hour later, she called to say it might be even later.  I told her that was fine, and I'd wait for her to call.  She called me one more time to say she couldn't meet that night, but she'd call me sometime in the next week to plan again.  I said okay.  But she never called me.  It was really bizarre.

To this day, I have no idea why she really wanted to get together.  I assumed it was for the reason she said, but my father thought she was looking for something else, that maybe her marriage wasn't going so well and she knew I liked her,  I'll never know, I guess.  Though we've had on and off contact over the years (she and her family were guests at my wife's and my wedding, and they came to my wife's funeral), I never brought it up, and neither did she.  Lisa had two kids, both of whom are now in college.  We remain friends on Facebook, but she isn't very active on it.

And that's about it.  I haven't thought about her much in the last ten years.  I need to clarify that I never thought about her romantically after she got married.  I did like her company, though, particularly as a friend of many years.  I know I was wrong to spend time with her after she got married.  It wasn't fair to her husband, who I've heard doesn't like me very much due to how I felt about Lisa.  But the on again, off again cancelled meeting with her, back in the mid-90s, really mystified me.

So why am writing about this?  It's interesting.  I've been watching the old TV show, "CHiPs", on Me TV.  Mike and I would watch the show religiously, and then we'd talk about it the next day at school.  We would re-enact the car accidents on the show with our cars, and it was fun.  So I was watching an episode this afternoon and it made me think about Mike, and then his sister, and one thing led to another, and I now have a fairly lengthy blog post here.  I had really forgotten about a lot of this until I started writing about it.  I owe it to Mike to reach out to him.  It had been so long since I last chatted with him.  He was a great friend to grow up with.

Have a great evening, everyone!

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