So let me tell you a little story.
I went through all of high school and most of college without ever having a boyfriend. I liked boys. I liked them a lot. I wanted a boyfriend, but I had my way of turning most of my flirtations into friendships. I had a ton of boy friends. I actually think I had more boy friends than girl friends. I was (and still am) the type of chick that boys love to hangout with: I like sports, beer, darts, going with the flow, and I can be ready in the spur of the moment for almost anything.
In my teen years, I felt jealousy because everyone had these really serious relationships, the types of relationships that made the earth spin on its axis. In my early twenties, I started to feel restless and I became overly self-conscious. I spent hours staring in the mirror obsessing about every feature. I had myself convinced that I would always be alone and that no boy would ever want to marry me. Of course, they wanted to kiss me. I kissed more boys than most people believe. (When I was 22, I bartended three nights a week, and my girlfriend and I went out the other four. We decided one night that we should have a contest. We decided we should each flirt and kiss a new boy for as many nights in a row as we could. I made it seventeen straight days!)
Somewhere around 23, boys started to take notice. I started getting asked out on real dates. I started going out on multiple dates with the same boy, and I had a few boys I could consider boyfriends for a short time.
My first real boyfriend, the first boy I actually thought I could marry was Tom. NO. Not my Tom, the pre-Tom Tom. He was like my practice Tom. We dated for about four months and we spent a great deal of time together. He came to my family’s Easter dinner; I went to a relative’s wedding. We laughed and played and I thought to myself at one point, “This could be the one.”
Then one day, out of the blue, it ended, or I should say, he ended it. I was devastated. How could this end? I felt so strongly for him. How could he not reciprocate my feelings? I was an emotional mess.
(Let me clarify. For two weeks, I was an emotional mess. Then I went to lunch with my best friend and he told me to stop feeling sorry for myself. He and I went shopping, I bought myself a little black dress, and I went to see a friend’s band that evening. I kissed the guitar player for about an hour in the alley. He asked for my number, and I knew I would be okay.)
Anyway, about three years later, I saw pre-Tom Tom. I literally ran into him in a crowded bar. I looked him in the face; I felt panic; I blushed, and I ran away. I told my Tom, to whom I was now married, that I wanted to go somewhere new because I was bored with the bar we were in. I lied to my husband because I did not know what else to do.
I was a coward. I had fantasized numerous times over the years about what I would say if I ever ran into him. I pictured myself offering him a warm hug and a kiss on the cheek. “Oh my gosh, Tom,” I thought I would say. “It is so good to see you! How have you been?” I expected that he would tell me about his life and then he would ask me about mine. “Oh me?” I would say in a very innocent tone. “Well, I went back to school. I got a master’s degree. Oh, and I got married in June.” I pictured myself glowing, oozing with true happiness. I pictured him alone and upset that he had let me get away.
Instead of living out this fantasy, I ran away.
For weeks, this incident bothered me. I was bothered by the fact that I felt so much panic. I had found my one true love, and I knew that my Tom was the Tom.
I decided to do the unthinkable. I would never be able to live with myself if I did not address him in some way. I was determined to be the bigger person. I drove myself to the local Hallmark store, and I bought a card. It was one of those, “Hey, how’ve you been” cards. I made sure that nothing about the picture or the greeting could be misconstrued as anything more than a sincere hello.
I opened it up and wrote him a message. Although I cannot remember what I wrote word-for-word, it said something like this:
Hey. I guess I am the last person in the world you are expecting to hear from. Well, maybe not the last person, you probably aren’t expecting a letter from Charlie Manson anytime soon. Anyway, I wanted to apologize for not saying hello when I saw you the other night. It was childish. I am sending this note to say that I hope that all is well. I hope that you are happy in life and love, and I promise, next time I see you, I will say hello.
Sincerely, Cheryl Dworznik Huffer
I was so proud of myself! I was funny, I was sincere, and I made sure he knew I was married. I looked up his address, licked a stamp, and sent it on its way.
Since then, I have run into him about a half-dozen times. And you know what? Every time I see him, I run!