For our first date, Jeff and I met in downtown Seattle by the bus stop at 3rd and Pine (there used to be a Woolworth's there). We went to the movies. Zelig, I believe. What a terrible date movie. Terrible. After the movie we walked down to the waterfront. We passed a man selling roses and Jeff said, "I give you a rose, figuratively." Over the course of the date, I found that Jeff was never serious. In fact, the only time I'd ever seen him serious was the day after math class when he assured me that he wasn't trying to humiliate me. At the end of the date, before I got on my bus, he shook my hand. And that was it.
I saw him around the EEP lounge. Sometimes he avoided me, but one day, he paid particular attention to me. He actually talked to me. I told my mom about our conversation. She said, "He was trying to ask you out again."
"Really? So can I call him?"
"Yes, call him if you want; it's fine." Mom said.
I called Jeff and it was fine. We had a second date. It wasn't very different from our first. It ended with me asking Jeff, in frustration, "Are you ever serious?" He said, "I don't know."
We talked on the phone one other time. He wouldn't make plans. Winter break came and went. Back at school he ignored me. Seeing him almost every day made me crazy. There were other boys around, but I couldn't stand that he acted like we barely knew each other. So I sniped at him. I played his sarcastic game right back at him every chance I got. We didn't talk to each other directly, but I'd get on the edge of his conversational group and drop little barbs. I was angry. At the end of the school year Jeff transferred to Yale. He left and I didn't think about him much after that.
I didn't explain this, but when Jeff asked me out, I became a person of interest to almost all of the older EEPers. One girl, (crazy) Stella, made a point to speak to me just because of Jeff. She'd had a crush on him for a year and couldn't get his attention--she was impressed. I was popular for a while and I didn't even realize it. Even though I didn't fully appreciate what was going on, I had fun. It's nice to be popular at least once in your life. Stella actually was surprised when she found out that I'd struggled with making friends in grade school and had been consistently teased right through junior high. In the EEP, there were no girls and very few boys who'd had an easy time in school.
A few years later (I was 18), I was sitting in our advisor's, Paul's, office, which was part of the lounge. Paul had a letter from Jeff, who was attending med school in St. Louis. Paul said, "You and Jeff would have been good together."
I said, "I don't think Jeff would agree. You realize that we actually dated, right? Well, we had two dates."
"I didn't know that. Do you ever talk to Jeff? You should write to him." Paul said.
"I haven't talked to him since he left. Maybe I will write him." And I thought about Jeff for the first time in years.
I wrote to Jeff and, months later, he wrote back. The next time he came to town, we got together with our friend, Mike. The three of us sat around at The Exit, the off-campus coffee shop where Mike and I spent most of our time. The EEP lounge had become passé. It was a very odd conversation. Mike asked Jeff what he was going to do for his medical specialty. Jeff talked about burps and farts and said he wanted to find out if it were harmful to hold them in. It was still impossible to tell if he was serious. Afterwards, Jeff walked me home. We chatted about nothing in particular on the 20 minute walk to my place. When we got to the building Jeff said, "There is something I wanted to tell you. You know all that time ago, when I was 15 and I asked you out?"
"Of course. How could I forget?" I was nervous. I had no idea where he was going with this.
"I feel really bad about how I acted. I did want to ask you out again, but I was scared. I know you were upset and angry and I don't blame you." Jeff said.
"I was angry at the time. But it was a long time ago. I haven't thought about it for a long time." I said.
"Well, I want to apologize. I've always felt bad about how I acted. I know it hurt you and I wish I'd acted differently."
I looked up at Jeff, who really didn't seem that much different than when he'd been 15, except I didn't care about him so much anymore. "Jeff, I don't know what to say. It was a long time ago and I'm not angry anymore. I was very upset back then. Thank you. It's really good of you to say something. It means a lot to me. I forgave you a long time ago--but it's good to hear."
"I am sorry." Jeff said.
Jeff and I didn't stay in touch. I heard he got married. His apology is still one of the nicest things that anyone has ever said to me. What a good man.Grateful for: having fond memories of Jeff and knowing it's never too late to fix things.