Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Girl That I Didn't Understand

In late 1991 I re-enlisted in the Army and got to choose my next duty station. The Presidio in San Francisco was available and it was very tempting for a variety of reasons but ultimately I chose Walter Reed Army Medical Center because it was reasonably close to my hometown and my family whom I had not seen a great deal of ever since I first joined the Army. In February of 1992 I left Ft Hood and traveled home for some leave time. The trip itself was quite a story but instead of that I want to talk about someone that I came to refer to as the girl that I didn't understand.

While at home I went out with my younger sister Karen to a bar in Ironton, our hometown. Karen is very different from me. Where I am more reserved and uncomfortable in public she is the exact opposite and can go into a room without knowing anybody and you would swear that she knew every single person in the room. That was the case on this night. We spent some time there and after a while she was standing at the bar and I went up there as well when I noticed this blond girl standing to my left. She was attractive and was mouthing the words to a song playing on the jukebox and staring straight at me.

This had never happened to me before (and hasn't since). I did the classic movie thing of looking behind me to see if there was someone else standing there that she was singing to but there wasn't anybody there. I looked directly into her eyes, pointed to myself and asked her "Me?" She nodded the affirmative. This was foreign territory for me and I wasn't sure what I should do. I mean girls just did not come on to me, ever. I realized that if I let this opportunity pass me by then I'd never let myself live it down so I slid over next to her and started talking.

As I said earlier I've never been comfortable in public settings, especially social ones. I don't like going to places where there are a lot of people, I just feel like I don't belong there. However, she was attractive and I was lonely and was trying to get over the breakup of my marriage so in I went. We talked for some time and I ended up giving her a ride home. Don't get all excited here, nothing happened more than a few moments of intense kissing and then she was gone. We arranged to go on a proper date (to the same bar) and while I enjoyed her company I was not having an overwhelmingly good time as my social anxieties were in full effect. At some point she started playing pool with a guy that she knew and was a friend of one of her friends.

She came up to me and wanted to ask if it was okay if he gave her a ride to her friends house. I'm not exactly a dummy so I knew what was going on, this guy was the type that she was attracted to on a very basic level and she finally had a chance at him. The thing is, even though I was angry that she wanted to ditch out of our date I felt I had no real say in this. This was only our first date, I didn't "own" her, so who was I to say anything. I told her that much and as they piled into his car I spun my tires on the gravel and got out of there, angry at how I had been screwed over again by life and vowed that I'd never talk to her again.

The next day she called me and although I didn't really want to talk to her I did but I tried to be short with my answers. She didn't take the hint though and wanted to meet me at the Ashland mall after she got off of work. Against my better judgment I agreed and at the food court we talked and before I knew it everything was okay, so long as either one of us didn't speak of the night before. If we ignored it then it didn't really happen I guess. We talked about Washington D.C. and how she loved it there and that she'd like to visit me once I got settled in and she could get the time off. A few days later I was on my way to report to my duty station and although I did think of her a little I was pretty busy getting used to my new routine.

A few weeks passed by when I had a knock on my barracks door. There was a phone call for me and you guessed it, it was her. She was coming to town on the next Friday and wanted to see me which did wonders for my mood. I offered to pick her up at the train station but she said her friends were picking her up and that she'd call me as soon as she got to their place so that we could arrange a meeting as soon as possible. All day Friday I was anxious, I couldn't wait for the workday to end. After it did I stayed in my room waiting for the phone call. After more than enough time had passed I started going out to the CQ desk (Charge of Quarters) and asked if there was a message for me. Nothing. I kept checking with them every twenty to thirty minutes and I'm sure they were sick of the sight of me before long.

Eventually I gave up and sank into my bed as I allowed all of the negative thoughts to swarm over me. The big question was why? Why do any of this if she had no real interest in me. Why call me at all if she didn't intend to follow through? Why call if she wasn't sure she'd even have time to see me? Was she ever interested in me or was this all just a big game to her? It's possible that she lost my number or that there was some kind of accident (the train didn't crash, I checked) but the best I could surmise was that I was her backup plan and she didn't end up needing me. The only thing that was clear was that my already fragile ego was at an all time low and didn't look to be improving anytime soon. No answers were forthcoming as I never heard from her again and that's how I came to call her the girl that I didn't understand.

Written and published by Don Leach

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