Way back in the dark ages, I was a student at a small liberal-arts college located close to Washington, D.C. How I got there is a saga in itself, but I fell in love with the beautiful campus and it has an excellent English and Linguistics department as well.
When I first arrived there, I had been engaged to someone for almost two years and I had promised myself that I was going to remain faithful to my studies and to him as well. Yeah, sounds like a really fun time, right? I was one of those girls, with the boyfriend far away who wore her promise like a badge. Or maybe a chastity belt.
On the first week of school, I sat a few rows back from what had to be the hottest guy I had ever seen. He wasn’t like Brad Pitt hot, he was unlike anyone I had ever met in my life. His name was Hal – he had dark, wavy hair, green eyes, gorgeous face, hot body, and damn if he wasn’t smart too. I discovered to my amazement and pleasure that he was in almost every single one of my classes, so I got to feast my eyes on the bounty of manliness for my last two years of school.
I had it bad, y’all. I would write his name in the margins of my notebook about a kajillion times during Shakespeare. I would follow him from class to class like a lovesick groupie. If I'd had a locker, I probably would've had lots of pictures of him with a silly collage saying "Liz + Hal 4Eva!!!" And despite my obsession, I could not bring myself to introduce myself or talk to him at all.
At the end of my junior year I realized that graduation was drawing near and that I was actually going to have to live up to my promise to marry the aforementioned fiancé once graduation was over. And it wasn’t Hal, it wasn’t fiancé – it was me. I realized that there was no way that I could marry him and be happy. I didn’t hate him, I didn’t loathe him, I cared about him enough to put the brakes on and tell him that I couldn’t go through with it. He didn’t see it that way, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
A free woman at last, I still wasn’t able to get over my shyness to talk to Hal. The stalking continued through my senior year, to the point where my senior advisor threatened me that if I didn’t do SOMETHING, she was going to. But I still didn’t.
The night before graduation, all of the seniors had a big party on the lawn and as the night went on, inhibitions were dropped and as the beer flowed people were cutting loose like you wouldn’t believe. Exhausted from all of the madness, I walked away from the fray to sit on a stone wall and look up at the stars in the sky while I sipped on my beer.
And there was Hal.
He walked over and sat next to me. We started talking, and he told me about his plans after graduation and how worried he was about finding a job. I told him about my plans to move in with a friend’s parents with the hopes of finding a job in the city versus moving back to my hometown. We must have talked for almost an hour, trading stories about our lives and memories of the classes we were in. And the whole time, I was so aware of everything around me that I felt like my skin was going to crawl right off of my arms.
At this point, the party was winding down and my friends were calling me to leave and head home. I turned to say goodbye to him, and he reached over and gave me the smallest, softest kiss on the lips and said, “I wish I had done this two years ago,” and walked away.
I never saw him again.
But it was one of those perfect “movie moments” that I have relived in my mind from time-to-time over the past 13 years. I have to admit, it was fun to think about what might have happened if we had actually connected earlier, although I believe that it probably would’ve consisted of hanging out at the library, quoting lots of Shakespeare, and really bad sex. I believe as a rule that Shakespearean scholars aren’t exactly hot in the sack, it’s some kind of code of ethics or something.
Today, my long-awaited alumni directory arrived in the mail…I paid for the sucker over six months ago and was starting to wonder if it would EVER show up. I shredded the box open and started pouring over the names in the book, wondering what happened to my old friends. Hal popped into my mind and I started to look his name up and realized one thing:
I don’t remember his freaking last name.
Considering I stalked him for two years, how pathetic is it that I don’t even remember his name? So I’ve been pouring over the tiny print, hoping to catch it so I can look and see where he is now and what he’s doing. So far, no dice.
So much for that – good thing I hadn’t ordered the wedding invitations or gotten the silver engraved, huh?
Hal, I'm sorry, baby. I know we had something really special, but obviously senility has set in and I have forgotten the kajillion times I wrote my name with your last name in my Grammar notebook. Maybe I'll remember it when I'm in CVS picking up my Geritol and Depends.