There was a girl I saw at school when I was 19. I was on my way to the parking lot after class. She was standing on the sidewalk talking to someone when I noticed her from about 50 yards away. Walking in her direction, I saw her from behind, and I liked what I saw: jeans and a T-shirt, slim figure, cute little round butt, straight shiny black hair cut short.
Then she turned and looked in my direction. And I saw not the most beautiful face, but the most perfect face ever. My whole world seemed to pause and hold its breath. I was 40 yards away from her, and all I could see was that face. It was the kind of face I'd been dreaming of all my life. It wasn't just her perfect complexion and her big brown eyes and her full red lips and her shining white smile -- it was what I could see inside her. I knew at that moment that this was the face of a girl I could love, and who could love me.
When she saw me, she stopped talking and stared at me. It must have been only for a second or two, but it seemed to last for minutes. As she went back to talking to her friend and I continued walking towards them, I could see her stealing glances at me.
I felt like I was in that song by the Doors. When I walked past them, more than anything in the world, I wanted to say to her, "Hello, I love you, won't you tell me your name?" But I was too shy. There was no way I could go up to her and say something. I'm not sure if I managed a smile or even made eye contact as I walked by her. Somehow I knew she was watching me, but I just kept walking.
As I entered the parking lot, I knew that I had blown an opportunity, one that I could never get back. I had just seen the most perfect girl in the world, and all I did was walk right by her.
But just as I was walking past a sports car – a blue Triumph TR-7 convertible, I still remember that car like it was yesterday – I heard the sound of hurrying footsteps behind me. It was her. She'd caught up with me. And she looked at me, then at the Triumph, then back at me, smiled her perfect smile, and said, "Wish I had that." Exactly what I thought every time I saw a TR-7.
So there I was. She had caught up with me. She was talking to me. Smiling at me. There I was, three feet away from the most perfect girl in the world. Three feet away from the girl I'd been longing for all my life. All I had to do was say something, anything, nothing clever, just "Me too. Isn't that a cool car?" and things would take their course from there. We would talk about TR-7s and other cool cars we liked. We would laugh about our own absurdly uncool cars, her with the big beat-up old Ford pickup she was headed to, and me with my almost equally improbable AMC Hornet station wagon. Then one of us would say, "Let's go get some lunch," and we would go to some fast food joint where we would eat, and talk, and lose track of time before suddenly realizing we had been talking for two or three hours. And we would fall in love.
And all I needed to say to make it happen was "Me too. Isn't that a cool car?"
But I froze. My brain stopped functioning. No words came out of my mouth. All I managed was a lame half-smile, and I watched her get into her truck and drive away and out of my life.
Saturday, December 17, 2005
Somebody asked people once on an Internet forum what they most regret in their lives. This was my answer...