As I’ve gotten older, I’ve started thinking about things I’ve done in the past that I’m not too proud of and I want to make amends. I’m not talking about major sins like robbing a bank or killing someone or voting for the wrong presidential candidate, but rather the times I acted despicably on a very personal level. Like the time I left Maureen Mosely in the movies.
Initially I was very happy that I had gotten up my courage and asked Maureen out. Well, I was happy until one of my “friends” whispered in my ear that she had an oversized head. You have to understand, this was high school, and looks were everything.
Suddenly my imagination took over. Her slightly large head went from volleyball size to basketball size to the size of the sun.
I was afraid that if I were seen with her, it would ruin my reputation. Of course, I had no
reputation. I was a nerd, and my nose was so large that I could be in biology and algebra class at the same time (I’ve got a thousand of them).
Anyway, that night I took Maureen to a foreign film, Closely Watched Trains. I was pretty sure nobody I knew would be at a movie with subtitles. And I was right! However, just when I thought I was home free, Maureen asked if we were going out to eat afterwards. Before I knew what I was doing I nodded and said, “Pizza.”
I was sure we would be seen afterwards and began to panic. And as I panicked, I imagined that her head was becoming even larger. It became larger than the actors’ heads on the movie screen. It became larger than the screen itself!
About halfway through the film I told Maureen I was going to get some popcorn and I just left her in the theater. Left her like the coward I was. For the rest of the school
year we just avoided each other. I was embarrassed and Maureen was obviously furious.
Thinking back, I can’t believe I acted so contemptibly. This wasn’t the “me” I’ve come to know and love. I had to do something, so I managed to track Maureen down and drove two hours to her house to apologize.
When she opened the door, I was amazed by Maureen’s beauty. Her head was magically average size, and I don’t think I would have recognized her if we passed each other on the street. She, however, immediately knew who I was.
When I asked her how, after forty years she recognized me, she quickly glanced at my nose but didn’t say anything.
“I’ve been thinking about you lately,” she said.
“Me too,” I answered.
And just when I was about to apologize, she blurted out, “I’m so sorry!! I can’t believe I left you in the movies!”
“You, you left me?” I asked.
“I’m sorry, but I couldn’t take it anymore,” she said while glancing at my nose again. “And when you went to get popcorn I just ran out of the theater.”
“You, you left me?” I asked again, stunned.
She nodded while saying, “I thought I could make it through the movie but when you said we were going out for pizza afterwards I knew I had to get out of there. I’m so sorry. I was so embarrassed by what I did that I couldn’t even face you the whole school year. Please forgive me.”
And there I was, confronted by that age-old question: Is it better for your self-image to be the dumpee or the dumper? I wanted to yell out, “Listen you mammoth headed monster, I left you!!!” However, I decided to take the high road – the dumpee road. I accepted her apology, said I was finally over it and left.
Of course, I plan on sending her a copy of this column. ❖