- Let Me Tell My Storyby Tom Horonzy
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One once was the loneliest number ...
Let Me Tell My Story by Tom Horonzy
Romance Writing Contest contest entry

Reader Beware: This is my first attempt at writing anywhere near two thousand words. My friends and family believe I  have the ADHD gene, even though you, who have read me previously, know how witty I can be. Any others new to me shall soon find it to be so. Therefore, I express, perhaps prematurely, appreciation for your patience. This is intended to be a romantic story combined with comedy and a confession or two. Shall we begin?

The year was nineteen-seventy-seven. I was a twenty-nine-year-old two-letter athlete adrift in a sea of nubile coeds. The setting is a private university in the Heart of Dixie. 

As interesting as I thought I would be to such a contingent of belles like a large eight-pound bass would be to a farmboy fishing in Grandpa's pond, things did not turn as I imagined, my having the "pick of the litter."  It made little difference that I was six-foot-six, chiseled, and bronzed. I was simply too mature and advanced in age to cause even a ripple.  Confused, I concluded to either switch baits or quit trying, which for a guy on the prowl was unappetizing.

I also had difficulty making male friends as the essence of life for free-ranged fratboys was a keg of beer, blaring music, and a blanket in the hope of striking gold in the back seat of a car. Quite different than my evenings, where I would light a pipe, sip some wine, and read in the light of a cozy fire. I  negotiated instead to board with a graduate of the school and supporter of the athletic program while being recruited. The thought of living in a dorm with hundreds of hormonally charged young men was unappealing. I had such experience in military barracks.

In exchange for that goody, living off campus, I agreed to be a fraternity advisor, overlooking weekend activities at the Pi Kappa Phi house. This is where I rediscover an old trustworthy lure to cast. My dancing prowess seemingly was an attraction to visiting "guests" who would be left in a corner by aforementioned brothers from differing mothers who would sip too much brew or be comatose from hitting on a toke or two. Fraternity Row was filled with damsels in such distress. I wonder now what happened to them in the other Greek houses.

As for me, let me set the scene. An anonymous brother came near lit even before the band began to play, accompanied by an attractive and subtlely dressed date. She had the look of someone you could introduce to one's family. She was 'elegance personified' and more deserving than what occurred, for it wasn't long before her companion, ruckusing with other brothers, hoorahing to Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, fell under the influence of whatever choice of happiness he selected earlier that night.

Meanwhile, his date, left in a corner, shied away from other girls who were also getting slathered with their companions. I advanced to where she sat and introduced myself. We talked for a while before dancing to a slower selection. Before I knew it, the night ended with her date unconscious. I felt obliged to see her safely to her dorm, where we continued talking for an hour before she retired. No matter. When I got home, I dialed the number given, unsure it would connect. Surprisingly, it went through. We chatted for another two hours. It was nearly three a.m. when we said goodnight. I couldn't sleep as thoughts waltzed through my mind of dreams never dreamt before. All G-rated. Had the BMOC become smitten? I think he did, preceding an axiom learned later in life. "Man is that he may have joy." I found mine in a girl named Myra.

Or so I thought. Given time to mull what happened, did her feelings dull?

 I found myself following her around between classes and to the cafeteria for lunch, where she avoided me to sit with friends.  I was more obvious, like yelling, "Earthquake," while pushing my chair into hers. It was as if I traveled back in time to fourth grade when I tugged on pigtails. Silly for a 'mature' man. I even managed to ask for a date, but her reply, though polite, was coyly cool. I slowly retreated to how I lived previously, reading the writing on the wall. Myra was ten years my junior. I sort of understood and left it lay low even when she was escorted to the frat house with other brothers than the dud she previously selected.
Was it her way of keeping tabs on me secretly? Did our time together leave a spark in her heart? She remained arm-length friendly, which was hard for me to do as her smile beamed like a strobe whenever she turned my way, and ... there was 'the wink.' Did she have a cinder in her eye? Dust? Or a 'pie for me?' (I don't know what it means it sits well in telling this tale.)
Anyhow, a week or so later, I tried once more, asking if she would be interested in attending the Military ball where R.O.T.C. students would receive their commissions. I thought my serving in the Navy might pave the way for an acceptance. Again, I was disappointed. She instead made plans to attend with our chapter's archon, "Hayboy."  

Despite her rejection, I went to Marion, his given name, being the chapter's advisor, saying, "If for any reason you cannot attend, would you call me, and I'll pinch hit." Like that would ever happen! It did.
At four o'clock on the afternoon of the ball, I received a call at home saying Hayboy needed to see me. I drove to the 'house" and found a hole in the wall, an ice pack across the leader's eyes. He lay prone on his bed. He mumbled, barely coherent, asking if I could, and would take Myra to the dance? (I lie not.) Further, he added, and dinner?  He had reservations at the Greystone Inn, an antebellum restaurant, for seven p.m. 

With a smile he couldn't see, I replied affirmatively, "Sure." Fortunately, I had a tuxedo at home tailored during my service days. My joy could hardly be contained ... for the moment. I feigned sorrow and hoped he would "feel better" from the drunken spree he had self-imposed since awakening earlier in the day. I then dashed home to prepare. The only matter overlooked was no one told his date a change was in the wind.

I arrived at the all-female Belk Dorm sufficiently early to be on time for phase one. The dorm mother, at the welcoming desk, buzzed Myra's room and announced that 'her date' was in the lobby. She still had no knowledge of the change. Moments passed, my pace quickening not knowing how to explain why me and not the he she expected was here. That is when she appeared on the staircase in a pink formal gown hanging from bare shoulders smiling ... until she saw me. She gaped, sputtering, "No way. This is not going to happen." I implored her to relax, pulled her aside onto a settee, and explained as best I could.
"You have every reason to be mad, and if I were in your shoes (size six and a half), I'd be uncomfortable, as well, for neither the situation nor your heels would fit me any better." She laughed but was unrelenting in accepting the offer to go to the dance. "Fine. But dinner is paid for, and the cafeteria is closed. We both need to feed, and it's a grand place to enjoy a meal. Let's not waste Hayboy's cash. You may as well get something from the turn of events." If you remain uncomfortable after dinner, I'll bring you back."

She hesitantly accepted. I pinned her corsage, also courtesy of her now defunct date, to sheer material, having my face match the hue of her dress, and left the dorm to arrive beside my nineteen-sixty-five Opel station wagon, its sidewalls rusting out. I opened her door. She got in. We left.

The rest of the night was a blur. I had a rib-eye. She ordered Salmon. We talked and laughed and were giddy with each other. We attended the dance. I took her back to my place afterward, around eleven p.m. We sat before the fireplace and actually held hands while sharing our dreams post-graduation. When she suggested it was time to leave, we kissed briefly. It was more of a peck, but it was the most exhilarating smooch I'd received since leaving my pooch for boot camp in nineteen-sixty-five. 

Our romance began immediately the day after.  I would write her a poem every day, which she shared with her dorm sisters directly after dinner. They would gather outside her door to hear the latest verse. Ten days later, I proposed. She accepted with conditions, noted below. I wish I knew where those written verses went. They never were recovered. 

Anyhow, We would meet for lunch, dinner, and breakfast on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. We dated only on Friday and Saturday nights, never on Sundays. Her goal was to graduate with honors, and that meant preparing for class was a priority not to be overlooked. I was fine with that and had my own row to hoe, so to speak, as I was a student, too. She made it clear as the first child in the Westbrook clan to attend college; her dad, a farmer, had to sell four cows each semester to pay her tuition. She would not disappoint. She didn't.

Speaking of her parents, the first chance we had to meet was after a home game a month later. Before the game, while sitting in the bleachers with her mom, who had been told her future husband was mature, she excitedly asked, "Which is he?" that he being me, to which my gal replied "#32."  "Well, Myra, he looks mature. How mature is he?" She replied, "twenty-nine," which sort of rhymes when her mother said, I guess he is mature!" 

The back end of that part of this story is that Myra was frustrated dating in high school because the boys asking her out were ... well, boys, to which her mom said you need to date more mature people. She finally got her wish. Now, as Paul Harvey would say, "and the rest of the story is ... " 

Even though she was ten years my junior, she showed more maturity than I had gained in twenty-nine years. I may have been wearing pants, but I always respected the chain of command from the service, thereby recognizing which of us would be the commanding officer in our relationship, which droned on for two long years. It seemingly even longer for another stipulation I agreed to, half-heartedly, was her desire to remain a virgin until after our I do's. Heavy petting was allowed but never was consummation consummated until June 2nd, nineteen-seventy-nine. Actually, it was the day after. Husbands: Want a happy life? Have a happy wife! Or, as Dirty Harry said, "A man has to know his limitations."

Much time has flowed beneath our bridge, and time seemingly has quickened pace, as it seems that there were seven days between refilling my pill box back then when now I refill them in what seems five days.

Myra and I will be blissfully married for forty-five years come June. Therefore, it is apropos that I continually remind her of my undying love by writing verses and such with regularity, never forgetting to bring her a bouquet of flowers after my weekly visit to Costco (I am on retainer) which was the last condition given when she accepted my proposal, that I would do the grocery shopping. I still do.

 I also remind her, many times a day, how 'hot" she remains even with my dimming vision, and I regularly apologize for any new wrinkles only she sees, as more than likely each was caused by me, begging her for 'special favors,' if you know what I mean. (She has only three.)

 With Valentine's Day a day away, I recognize the girl who sashayed into my life in nineteen-seventy-seven remains the gal to whom I pinned a corsage when I appeared unexpectantly, accepting my suggestion "to pay back" those foolish frat boys.  Paraphrasing Clint Eastwood, it is easy to say they ... "Made my Day!"


Author Notes
This story is true.
The pictures counterclockwise are a junior Rose Ball picture, her senior study habits, our wedding, and an island getaway ten years later.


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