Wednesday, December 01, 2010


Before Mr. Long-Suffering, there were 3 boyfriends. Two of them were serious, multi-year affairs and one was a short fling (short, by my standards, is about 6 or 8 months). We will now give them nicknames to differentiate. In chronological order: High school boyfriend will be known as Minnow, college boyfriend will go by a number…how about 343, and fling will go by the name Fling.

So, Minnow and I were on the math team together. We founded the Bridge Club (playing cards not building coalitions) at our high school together. If it weren’t for the fact that he was male and I am not, we probably would’ve just been really good friends. But alas, the romantic aspect was present, so we dated for about 3.5 years. We went to prom twice. I wore the same dress both times.

Minnow went off to college after my sophomore year, so we did the long-distance thing for two years. Now kids, this is back in the day before rampant email (it was still nascent email at the time) and this is just at the beginning of discount long distance (on landlines). I was paying about $0.15 per minute for the long-distance phone calls.

Usually, I would say that the long-distance thing doesn’t work out and when you go to college you should go and be open to new people and experiences. However, if your boyfriend is going to an all-male college and you are busy at home with a job, several extra-curriculars, and school, it could work out since no one is going to meet someone else. So, it went well.

I liked Minnow a lot. We had quite a bit in common. His family was very nice. They were very stable. I liked that. They ate dinner together every night. Minnow’s parents knew what classes he and his brother took in school, showed up for some functions, supported them in their endeavors. They were good parents. In fact, I am trying to be like them as I raise my own kids.

Eventually, I graduated from high school and went off to college myself with every intention of sticking with Minnow while he finished his degree at the all-male college and getting married a few years after he graduated. I even thought about moving into married student housing for my last two years at university, etc and on and on as the dreams of a teenaged girl oft are.

He lasted a week, ten days maybe. I was horrible to him. I know it now. At the time, I was so infatuated with someone else (the someone else was 343), I didn’t see how truly awful I was. I called him and told him I wanted to “see other people”. This was after 3.5 years. He deserved better. Just awful. He came to visit once (since we were still seeing each other and I was also seeing other people). He brought a blender with him to make me my favorite banana shake. I wasn’t my very best. Minnow had been my best friend for years and years, and I wanted him to be happy for me and the new life I was living and the new people I had met and the new “school” boyfriend I had. But, obviously, he couldn’t be happy for me for that. Somehow I was a self-absorbed 18-year old (redundancy alert).

{As an aside, my “school” boyfriend and I both still had hometown honeys. So, we made the agreement that when we were at school we were exclusive to each other, but when we were at home on breaks and whatnot, we could still see our old people. How we thought that would work, I don’t know. Call it naiveté.}

Let’s say things went sour with the “school” boyfriend and by the beginning of summer after freshman year, I was single again. Minnow wanted me back, but after my taste of freedom, I didn’t want him back as a boyfriend. I wanted him as my friend. We tried the just friends thing for a week or two. It didn’t work out, but I still loved hanging out at his house with his pesky little brother and his awesome parents for that week or two. And his mom’s cooking. She was such a good cook.

I might have exchanged emails with Minnow a time or two after that. We ran in some similar circles online for a while. I think I last heard from him in 1998 when he was in grad school. At the time I was pleasantly single, and he was dating a girl somewhat seriously.

I’ve been thinking a lot about friends and acquaintances and people who come into your life and then disappear. Maybe it’s because we just celebrated Thanksgiving or because I am going to turn dirty-jive next year. Perhaps I’m suffering from some sort of maudlin ennui. I’ve been thinking about how people who were once very important to you can disappear without a trace.

I had googled him a few times over the years. Not much came up. Well, I recently looked Minnow up on facebook. He’s not there. I googled one more time and my mad keyword skills must be getting better because a whole trove of stuff came up this time. Including an obituary.

Now, I bet you know where this is going, but it’s not. It wasn’t his obituary. It was his wife’s. The somewhat serious girlfriend from 1998? They got married in 1998 right around when he probably graduated from grad school. She passed away on Nov. 23, 2006. I don’t know how she died. They did not have any children. I almost want to send a sympathy card, but it has obviously been far-too-long since her death to do so and to do so now would be completely inappropriate since I don’t want to rekindle anything. I would just like him to know that I am sorry for his loss. Sorry I treated him so crappily, and hope he finds some happiness.

Now, that little bit of googling caused me to look his brother up on facebook. Just to see whatever happened to the pesky little brother. It appears that the little brother is all grown up now. He’s an officer in the Navy. He is married and has a couple of kids. I scrolled through his list of friends, and I noticed he had friended his mom. How sweet! I always looked up to her. She was a strong woman, a mother, she worked outside the home but seemed to balance it all so well. So I clicked over to her facebook page. Her profile photo is a picture of her grandkids. Wow, a great mom and a great and doting grandmother! Her relationship status was “in a relationship with” someone who wasn’t Minnow’s dad. Then I noticed she was using her maiden name on facebook. Of course, this made me fear that Minnow’s dad had also passed away and that I hadn’t sent another sympathy card (although it was probably too late to send one again since his mom was already dating again).

So, I did a little local obituary search for his Dad. Nothing came up, but a public record came up instead. Minnow’s father filed for divorce from Minnow’s mother. The divorce was final in 2001. I saw them in 1998. They had just finished celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary with a weekend trip to Cybaris. It’s like the kids grew up, graduated college, and they got divorced? How does that happen?

Next Chapter: The story of 343.

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