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Musing: Love Hurts
Boudleaux Bryant’s song, most famously performed by Nazareth but recorded by dozens of renowned artists, declares Love Hurts. I witnessed a young man experience such pain and thought I would share it with you.
The setting was our neighborhood YMCA, a place we visit several times a week. We arrive after the lunch crowd departs, with a goal to finish our workouts in that window before the local schools let out and their students flood our gym.
As I was finishing the last of my exercises one day last week, the first of the students drifted in. That was my signal to finish up, but it also provided a front-row seat to watch the disaster unfold in front of me.
The first character of our story entered stage right. He was thirteen, maybe fourteen years old. Let’s call him Gavin, though, of course, I have no more idea what his real name was than any of the other participants in today’s tale.
He’s in the midst of a story. A mesmerizing tale, full of laughter and intrigue. Riveting.
Well, at least to Gavin. His spindly arms flailed as he spun his story, laughing at his own jokes. I couldn’t tell you what he was saying, despite his crossing mere feet in front of me. I wasn’t paying attention to him.
And I wasn’t alone. His chattering failed to amuse his friend, who trailed behind. Trey seemed to fit as a moniker. He’s roughly the same age, probably a classmate.
Trey made the requisite noises as if he’s listening, grunts and agreements, but his attention was elsewhere. His eyes scanned the people scattered about, skipping anyone older than about sixteen or seventeen, as he searched for friends.
Which brings us to our third player. Carmen. Roughly the same age. Entering from the opposite direction and crossing paths. She ran her fingers through her long hair as she looked toward Trey with a twinkle in her eyes… and smiled.
Her interest wasn’t subtle, but nor was she making things too easy for Trey. She didn’t speak to him, only smiled, and moved to pass the two boys—the oblivious Gavin and the now-distracted Trey.
Trey had choices. Return the smile, acknowledging her presence and hoping she said more. Stop and speak, a high-risk move that might result in a rewarding conversation or a crushing dismissal. Or maintain that teenaged, aloof coolness that pretended that girls smiled at him every day.
The confusion was obvious in his face as he debated his options. I’m sure his heart pounded and his palms sweated.
He settled on the slight nod of his head with an even slighter smile, an attempt to maintain a chill persona that still opened the door ever so slightly to more.
Carmen didn’t let him off the hook that easily. With a flip of her hair, practiced hundreds of times in a mirror at home to perfect the look of disinterested interest, she passed Trey and continued on her way, leaving him flummoxed.
Gavin continued his tale, bantering and yammering, as he pushed open the bathroom door and exited our stage. He never noticed Carmen, or his friend’s notice of Carmen, or the exchange of middle school romance that occurred in his wake.
Trey, however, floated through the air. He slowed his gait, falling a step or two further behind Gavin, and turned his head to watch Carmen disappear. A wide grin broke across his reddening face. He’d successfully maintained his cool, a model of the sophisticated male he strived to be, and still scored a smile from Carmen.
Sorry to break that fourth wall, but I was the audience, your eyes and ears into our little scene. I knew what our characters didn’t. Saw what they couldn’t. Trey’s impending doom rushed toward him.
Yes, our young protagonist was about to discover the pain of young love.
Gavin, still immersed in his story, had released his grip on the bathroom door. It swung closed just as Trey arrived, his attention focused behind him. He trusted his friend to hold the door. He never raised his hands to push open the portal.
The momentum of the closing door and Trey’s forward path collided. The thunk echoed even in the noisy gym as he plastered himself against the wooden door. His head, his body, his legs, all made contact at the exact same moment.
He was, forgive my analogy, a bug smashing onto a windshield of a speeding car.
He recovered as best he could. Pushed open the door and stumbled into the bathroom, worried less about any physical injury than the possibility that Carmen had looked over her shoulder and noticed her target of interest’s crashing defeat.
Our characters were now offstage. Carmen in one direction. Gavin, probably still telling his story, oblivious to his friend’s collision. Trey, nursing his wounded pride and bruised body, wondered if Carmen would ever smile at him again.
With the stage curtain closed, it was time for me to leave. I finished my reps and departed, so I have no idea if Trey and Carmen ever spoke. Or if Gavin finished his story. I can’t give you a happily ever after.
I can only hope young Trey doesn’t bruise easily.
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On The Website This Week
Gratuitous Dog Photo: Giant Azalea
Typhoon and Frankie explore one of the giant azaleas along our neighborhood greenway. They are amazingly beautiful this spring.
November 2023 Reader Survey Question
Until Next Monday
May you enjoy the splendor of love without the agony, though one usually accompanies the other.
If you have any questions or thoughts, drop them in the comments below.
See you next Monday.
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