Crushed it! by
10
(20 Stories)

Prompted By The Crush

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The stars aligned for love for me that summer. I was too old to be a camper but too young to be a counselor. Nothing other than my summer reading list was on the docket. And there was the music—a soundtrack of love songs too long to list. For the adults, Frank Sinatra’s All the Way (all the way where?). For the teens and us younger kids, Roy Orbison’s Crying. (I love you even more than I did before, but Darling, what can I do?)

And the heat. We’re talking July in the days when every day of the month was a scorcher. So hot that if you had any business to do, you’d better get it done before noon. So hot that my brothers, sans AC, slept on the porch. So hot that I cut holes in my sheets to breath while mosquitoes dive-bombed me in the dark. Not to mention the worms that got fried on the sidewalk, which also savaged the skin of my feet. That hot.

Set against this backdrop of climatic misery and youthful awakening was my first real crush.

The heir to Prince Philip, Robin Hood actor Richard Greene and Desi Arnaz in my affections was named George. George’s family lived across the street. He had come home from medical school for the summer, but that was not his allure. George was darkly, hopelessly handsome. He had driven home in his perfect white Triumph TR3 convertible. By contrast, I was a freckle-faced little girl who wouldn’t be driving anything for years. But it was a level deal: George loved his car, and I loved George.

In the mornings I would watch for him from the upstairs window, my plan of action at the ready. Whenever George came out to wash his car, I would brush my hair, bolt down the stairs, and, book in hand, saunter casually out our front door. I would settle myself languidly under a tree that gave me a direct view of my ideal. Pretending to read, I would furtively glance up and over his way. I thought I was invisible.

Is that all, you ask? Well of course it was. As I said, I was just a kid. This simple routine was heaven enough to last me all summer long.

One day the jig nearly was up. I was off my game. Peeking up and over as usual I saw him, soapy sponge in hand, smiling slightly. I wasn’t invisible after all! Was he going to laugh at me? No. No, he was acknowledging me in the sweetest way. He was going to be kind. It would be our secret, and it would be OK.

One evening at the end of the summer my family was having dinner. It was still light. The doorbell rang. I got up from the table and there was you-know-who standing on the other side of the screen door. My heart stopped. George smiled and asked to speak with my father.

He was going back to school soon, he said, and would we allow him to park his Triumph in our empty garage bay for the fall? Yes-yes-yes, oh thank you, Dad! George left, and over the next months I projected my pre-teen dreams onto the car. I would find reasons to visit the garage and just stare at it. Even today, the sight of a little white convertible on the road brings it all back.

One day the car disappeared from the bay. I never saw George again. It was an abrupt but romantic ending. I was content. I stored George in a special memory space, with thanks. And here I am, writing about him all these years later.

Childhood crushes are rehearsals for the real thing. They teach us that attraction, in isolation, is not love. That infatuations can be painful as well as thrilling. That such imbroglios can be dangerous as we get older and our lives more complex. At their best, crushes teach us that, ultimately, real love can be a many-splendored thing.

That sixties summer, George loved his car and I loved George.
Profile photo of Susan Bennet Susan Bennet
I'm so happy to have joined the gracious Retro family. The basics:
I have a background in marketing and museums.
I come alive when the leaves turn red.
I regret every tech mistake I have made or will ever make on this site.
I want a dog.



Characterizations: been there, funny, moving, right on!, well written

Comments

  1. Suzy says:

    A perfect story about an unforgettable crush! Watching him all summer, then staring at his car in your garage after he went back to school…. Weren’t you even a little disappointed when the car disappeared without even a thank you or a good-bye?

    Again, welcome, we’re so glad to have you here sharing your stories on Retrospect!

  2. Betsy Pfau says:

    Your tale is beautifully told, Susan. Welcome to Retrospect. I can feel the heat, blistering up from the pavement, and that first blush of the other kind of heat you felt for George and his equally beautiful car. Your deductions about a crush are quite stunning. I guess I’d never thought it through to such a logical conclusion, but you’ve given me something to chew on, even after 47 years of marriage. Thank you for that.

  3. Laurie Levy says:

    I love this story, Susan. I can so relate to your description of the hot summers many of us endured in our youth. No air conditioning and sleeping under a sheet to avoid mosquitos felt very familiar. Your description of the crush was spot on, and I totally agree that they are rehearsals for the real thing.

  4. Wonderful story Susan! I can see it all, and even feel the heat – on the sidewalk and in your adolescent reveries!

    I was introduced to Retro a year or so ago by my friend Betsy. How did you find us? And welcome!

  5. Marian says:

    So sweet and true, Susan. Love this story. A warm welcome to the Retrospect community.

  6. Khati Hendry says:

    Great story. The description of the heat was perfect. And you conjured the crush beautifully. And, after all that, drew some wise lessons about love. Thanks for the trip.

  7. Dave Ventre says:

    Ah the inappropriate childhood crush!

    When I was fourteen or fifteen, my Mom warned me away from a close friend and co-worker of hers named Patricia. She said that Patricia had a thing for younger men and that I should be careful. The timing would make Patricia around thirty-five. I remember her as a very pretty, willowy redhead.

    I spent months just HOPING that Mom was right. Sadly, Patricia never made her move.

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