Kim! How could you do this to me?! I mean, I can’t. … I just
can’t believe it. I’m. … well, it’s beyond crushed. My
heart is broken forever! My life will never be the same. …
Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen — but you see, I’ve just been
informed that Kim (sorry, Kim — I never knew your last name), the
business manager at WorldNetDaily — is leaving! Not only that, she’s
leaving for Virginia! To get married!
Yes, I’ll admit it. Over the months I’ve been writing this column,
I’ve developed a fairly massive crush on Kim. As our relationship has
been limited to phone conversations, I’ve got absolutely no idea what
she looks like — and guess what? I don’t care! I know it’s crazy, but
what can I say? This is simply, the nicest, sweetest, most genuine,
down-to-earth girl (sorry, Kim I know you’re a “woman,” but I just can’t
help thinking of you as a girl). Formerly my (sniff) girl.
And now you’ve dealt me the death blow by telling — by blithely
telling — me that you’re about to tie the knot with another man (well,
you didn’t say it was a man, but I just can’t picture you, ah —
you know. …
OK, OK, I’m exaggerating just a bit. But seriously — when Kim told
me she was leaving (we just got off the phone), I actually did
experience this terrible sense of … well, I don’t exactly know
what to call it. But whatever it was, I found myself harkening
back — remembering the very first girl who ever captured my heart. Yes,
I’m talking about my first True Love. And now that I’ve gotten started
(I really didn’t intend to write about this, folks — I swear), I’ve got
to get it off my chest. I can’t keep it in any longer. So, if you’ll
excuse me, dear reader, it’s true confessions time. …
Her name was Betsy Geller. She was this incredible, wonderful,
gorgeous… absolutely perfect creature (a young Audrey Hepburn
is about as close as I can come to a description).
Funny, I was married to my (ex) wife for years, and today I can
barely remember what she looked like. But right this very minute, I can
see Betsy Geller plain as day. Which is kind of odd, since all this was
such a long time ago.
The third grade to be exact. Yep, Moreland Elementary School, Shaker
Heights, Ohio, class of ’56.
She was very dark, and she had this wonderful, smooth olive skin,
huge blue eyes and straight, shiny black hair that she always wore
pulled back into a pony tail. In fact, ever since then, I’ve been a
total sucker for pony-tails (on women, that is).
She had huge dark Anna Mangani eyes, with very thick eyebrows that
seemed to be perpetually knitted — as if she were thinking very hard. I
figured that she was either Greek or Italian (somehow she just seemed
foreign), though no doubt she was probably (yoiks!) Jewish.
It’s funny what you remember about people. Like for some reason, one
of the things I recall most about Betsy Geller is that she had a lot of
hair on her forearms. To me this somehow added to her sex appeal. I sat
one row over from her in class — and I can remember sitting there, just
staring at her arms …
I guess she was sort of a tomboy. You know — the type who
hung out with the guys during recess, instead of skipping rope or
playing hopscotch — which to me, bespoke a great independence of
I’d constantly walk by her house, which was only a few streets over
from mine. Back and forth I’d walk, hoping to catch a glimpse of her
through the window, though it never happened. It didn’t matter. Just
knowing she was in there, maybe sleeping or reading a book (or
maybe secretly thinking about me!) — that was enough.
Obviously I was totally and completely crazy for her. But for months,
it was simply beyond the realm of possibility to even consider
talking to her.
One day I could stand it no longer. I was in agony.
I decided to make my play during recess.
My heart beating a mile a minute, I approached her as she was engaged
in a heated round of penny pitching with some friends. After what seemed
an eternity, she looked up. I was totally numb by this time, yet I knew
it was now or never. I had a speech all prepared, but when I opened my
mouth, what came out was simply, “I think I love you.”
She stood there looking at me — cocking her head to the side in that
wonderful way she had. Then she said the magic words: “I already
have a boyfriend.” She nodded towards a bunch of guys playing
baseball. “Buzzy King — the pitcher — that’s my boyfriend.”
She scrunched up her face, as if thinking hard. “Besides,” she added,
“I don’t like you. I think you’re sorta creepy.”
Needless to say, I was mortified. Yet upon reflection, it made
perfect sense. Of course she would like somebody named Buzzy King
(the most popular kid in our third grade class). How could I ever have
fooled myself into thinking she would ever have even considered someone
like me?! No, I had been a dolt, a jerk, a jackass, an idiot and
a fool. What’s more, my life was over!
Yet fate has curious ways of working. One bright summer afternoon
some ten years later (we had moved from Ohio to California during the
interim), I was visiting a friend at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. We were
sitting poolside, soaking up the rays, when something caught my eye. I
looked up and, lo and behold, there she was, just a few feet away from
me — Betsy Geller!
Despite the expected hormonal changes (which were wonderful) she
looked exactly the same as I’d remembered her, except now, approaching
womanhood — she had truly become beautiful.
I looked skyward and said a silent thank you. After all, the odds
against such a meeting — some 3000 miles and 10 years from the site of
our original, er, relationship — were a million-to-one. No, there was
no mistake about it. God had sent her to me.
But you know what? I still couldn’t talk to her. A zillion
times during that eternally long afternoon, I started to go up to her.
But alas, I never made it. And at the end of the day, as I watched her
leave, and heard the tinkle of her laughter fading into the distance, I
felt my heart breaking all over again, just as it had so many years
before on that elementary school playground.
I suppose that the existential message of the Betsy Geller story is a
simple one: first love leaves its imprint on us forever. That is, of
course, who she was — my first Muse.
Oh sure, I’ve been “in love” since then. Actually, quite a number of
times. But nobody ever captured my heart the same way Betsy Geller did.
So I guess the time has come. It’s taken me all these many years to
get up the nerve to say it. And who knows, maybe somehow, magically,
she’ll hear me! I mean, for all I know, she might just be reading this
very column! So, here goes. …
Hey Betsy Geller, if you’re out there somewhere … I love you.
S.L. Goldman is on assignment in Costa Rica. The third column in
Goldman’s series on the New Age Movement — “Demonic Convergence”
— will resume next
For information about S.L. Goldman’s forthcoming spoken word tour
(Goldman will be appearing — in venues throughout the U.S. and Europe
— on the same bill with author/rock star Henry Rollins and author
Hubert Selby), please send an e-mail to Goldmanlive@thetongue.com.