I could hear the echo of my father’s voice inside my head, “Boys don’t ever hit girls.”
He ignored my protests and told me he didn’t care what my sister had done. It didn’t matter if she hit me first or what she used. I was a boy. We weren’t allowed to fight back that way.
I told him again it wasn’t fair and he shrugged his shoulders at me. “We are bigger and stronger. Use your words to settle things. They will.”
He was right and so was I. Thirty-seven years ago they didn’t fight fair and they still don’t now.
I suppose the big difference between then and now is that it was much easier as a young boy to look at them as “annoying people” whose sole purpose was to bother boys.
Puberty changed all that. Those “annoying people” cast a magic spell on me and suddenly I went from not noticing any of them to having trouble focusing in school.
Hormonal overdrive and young love kept me from recognizing the kind of trouble that lack of focus could get you into.
But I found out.
Her name was Tammy. She was a tall blonde with bright green eyes and an electric smile. At 14 she was two or three inches taller than I was and quick to lord it over me.
She spent our freshman year of high school doing her best to tease and torment me. I tried to give it back to her and almost got my head taken off.
I don’t remember exactly what I said but I remember she was angry. When I told her she was acting like my sister she lost it. She stopped talking to me. When we passed each other in the halls she just looked through me, it was like I didn’t exist.
You would think that I would have appreciated the respite from the teasing and the incessant comments about my height, but I didn’t.
We didn’t speak again until November of the following year and to this day I can’t tell you if she even noticed, but I did.
Her refusal to speak made me so angry that I walked over to her. “You aren’t as special as you think you are!”
She just laughed, “look who finally grew.”
Until she mentioned it I hadn’t noticed that I was finally taller than she was.
I wanted to yell at her again but that laughter and the smile that accompanied it took the fight right out of me.
We went on our first date two weeks later and three months after that we lost our virginity in her aunt’s pool house.
It was young love and a healthy dose of young lust.
Her father almost put the fear of god into us. He came home early one day and surprised us.
We heard him and I tried to jump out of bed, but Tammy was fearless. She told me to relax and said there was plenty of time.
That became our line and our little joke. Life was filled with plenty of time and much laughter.
When it came time to go to college we ended up attending different universities. Neither one of us was worried about our relationship. We thought it was strong enough to survive anything, but we were wrong.
I don’t know when she slept with him or how many times she did but I know it happened. I wasn’t blameless either.
The girl I hooked up with was just as tall as Tammy and had those long legs that I loved, except she was a brunette with dark eyes. The moment I kissed her I knew that things had to go farther and that something else was dying, but hormones don’t care about relationships.
Within six months or so we had both acknowledged that it was time to go our separate ways.
It was painful but also somewhat exhilarating. Tammy and I had done almost everything a couple could do together and I was excited to be with other women.
That 18 year-old boy felt like a kid in a candy shop and for a while I really enjoyed it, but I noticed very quickly that these girls didn’t respond like Tammy did.
She would do anything and they wouldn’t. Hindsight makes it easy to recognize that love was the difference but that kid didn’t know it.
By that time Tammy and I rarely spoke and if we did we usually found ourselves fighting but it wasn’t like those days in high school.
Eventually we just stopped talking.
Five years passed and then I ran into her at a New Year’s Eve party. At midnight we kissed and it was like no time had passed.
Thirty-five minutes later we walked into my apartment and stayed there for three days.
Two days later she left for a two year Peace Corps assignment in Africa. When she kissed me goodbye she said she loved me, laughed and told me not to worry because there was plenty of time.
She never wrote me.
Twenty-five years passed and the silence continued. We were just a memory.
Last week there was a knock at the door and I saw a beautiful blonde standing on my porch. It was like being transported in time, there was my Tammy, except it wasn’t.
She said her name was Heather and asked to come inside.
“My mom said if something happened to her I should find you. Her name was Tammy and I think you might be my dad.”
“What do you mean her name was Tammy?”
Her eyes filled with tears and so did mine. I guess we never did have plenty of time.