We were both seventeen, both the eldest child in our respective families and both careering towards one another with a kind of cosmic momentum that we were at first quite unaware of.
When my friend Susan told me she had another crush, this time, on a new boy at her school, I knew the drill. I mean we’d done this several times. Love was our fulltime occupation. I asked her questions, drew her out, discovered that, like all our other crushes, the boy didn’t yet know she existed.
However this was more advanced. They actually moved in the same circles. This was more evolved than previous crushes sustained by vast distances across the field at school.
Time was of the essence. It was our practice to shadow each other on our romantic pursuits, which were mainly really in the mind so it was easy. This time we were invited to the same place where he was. I was curious but pretty tied up in my own vivid emotional landscape.
The venue was the home of a friend of a friend. I didn’t really know them and wasn’t good with strangers so it was all a little awkward. Susan pointed him out to me. He was sitting across the room on a high barstool. His legs were wrapped around each other rather like I had been taught to sit at one of the modeling courses my mother had insisted on sending me.
On his lap was one of the girl’s tapestries. In his hand was a needle. This boy was sitting like a woman, perched on a high stool, in full view of all the cool kids present, and sewing. I was astounded. I was not particularly liberated, had been brought up in a fairly conventional home. The sight of a man sewing was not attractive to me. Then!
I tried not to show Susan how UN-attracted I was to her latest non-conquest. We usually made it a practice to at least partially fall for each others crushes to facilitate the endless obsessing that needed to be done to maintain the momentum of our romantic lives.
Michel was the first crush we girls really got to know. I have to keep reminding myself that I didn’t actually steal him away from Susan because she didn’t have him yet and she never did but I still feel uncomfortable about it sometimes. It was a grey area. She had tagged him but the fact was that as time went on Michel and I became fast friends and then we became the kind of friends that liked to be alone together. Finally we became the kind of friends that liked to kiss each other and spend long winter afternoons in the park away from everyone and lost in our own world.
The planets must have been in the right position because when we fell, we fell so hard that we could not bear to be apart. We dreamt about spending a night together, just one blissful night, to go to sleep in each others arms and wake up there the next morning.
I had been a very good girl up until then but the combination of love and hormones was just too much for me. One night we planned to do it; go to sleep together, wake up together. It would have to be surreptitious. Punishment would be certain death.
We planned an elaborate ruse. He would sneak me into his bedroom. My parents would be told that I was at a friends for the night. I would be hidden in the top shelf of his closet where he made a kind of tiny resting place with blanket and pillow. He would leave me there and carry on as normal with his family until they had all gone to bed and all was quiet. Then I would sneak into his bed.
All this went as planned. He was lucky he’d chosen a small girlfriend. A tall blonde would never have fitted.
When the time was right he released me from my lofty hiding place and introduced me to the next. I was to crawl under his bed. I was a sight to see at this point. My mother had this fluffy little white negligee that she never wore. I was wearing it while I waited out the next phase under my boyfriend’s bed. I felt beautiful even if I was a little dusty. The idea was that I should wait there until we were absolutely sure that the household was asleep.
I felt Michel climb into the bed, the underside of the spring mattress dropped uncomfortably close to my face. I waited and waited like some maiden in ancient times awaiting initiation. I waited and waited -- did I say that already? It was a long time, maybe a couple of hours. In the end I had to crawl out and wake him up.
On this night of nights my boyfriend, now husband of some 30 years, had simply fallen asleep!