Ake's Pains debuted in the University of Akron Buchtelite in September of 1977. The school's reputation as an institute of higher learning has still not recovered. Ake's Pains returns after a brief 32 year hiatus. It's back, baby!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Nothing More Than Feelings (The Blunder Years – Part 2A)

(Let’s start a post related to the 70’s with some bad 70’s music)

Feelings, nothing more than feelings,
Trying to forget my feelings …...*

One of my responsibilities for our 40th year high school reunion was to collect ticket money for the event.  It was exciting to see which classmates were attending when the mail arrived each day. Some of these people I had not seen in 40 years.  But one envelope caught my attention before I even opened it.  I stared at the return address. Connie is coming, wow, all the way from Wyoming. (name and location changed)

This was somehow significant for me.  She could be considered a first love, an old flame, or whatever, and I had not seen her in 40 years.  As I recorded her reservation, I noted that her husband would not be traveling to Ohio, but her sister would be attending the event with her.

For some unknown reason, I kept thinking about Connie and our past relationship over the next several days.  Not because I still had feelings for her.  Obviously, I did not.  If I did, that would be ridiculous because it had been 40 years and there is a definite statute of limitations on feelings.  So definitely no feelings, no feelings whatsoever. 

But it did bother me that I was unable to remember how the relationship actually ended.  We had casually kept in contact for a time after graduation.  Connie was going to a nearby college and we exchanged letters, though not love letters, throughout the summer.  The romantic interest had faded by that time, but I guess we were both just keeping our options open.  However, the letters stopped in the early fall, 39 years ago.  I didn’t know who ended it or why, but I didn’t think it was me. Of course, I have no idea why I can remember these old details when I can’t even remember important stuff that happened last week, but it is definitely not because I still have any feelings, because I don’t.  No, no feelings.

Then surprisingly, the mystery about how the relationship ended was soon revealed.  A couple weeks before the reunion, Stuts (his real name is Tim, but he deserves a cool nickname), had published an e-directory of information he had collected from our classmates. I read that Connie has been married for 39 years.  Now I don’t need my MBA degree, my keen data analysis skills or even a calculator to figure this one out.  Still, I took some solace in the fact that I was not rejected, but replaced.  And this fact  was meaningless in the big picture, since all my other options closed a mere seven months after the letters stopped when I met my wife-to-be.

As the reunion approached, I felt some uneasiness about seeing Connie again.  Not because I still had any feelings toward her, because I don’t, but because I thought it could feel awkward.  And I hate feeling awkward, because it’s so awkward feeling awkward.  It’s even awkward for me to write about feeling awkward.

In order to deal with this anxiety, I told myself that the relationship was not substantial, was brief and really hadn’t meant anything to me.  Maybe we were both just pretending. In actuality, it wasn’t even real. This new perspective was effective and I calmed down.    

So, there was absolutely no reason to fear anything about Saturday night. Connie’s husband would not be there, so there would be no awkward comparisons.  Not that I was worried about that, being a noted author and all.  And there were no feelings, none at all, hey no worries, no problems.

Still, just to make sure there were no awkward moments, I thought it best to devise a master plan on how I should interact with Connie that evening.  Not that I am a control freak, or anything resembling a control freak, because I’m not.  The plan was necessary to make the evening go smoothly and not because I have any old feelings for her, because I don’t.

I would greet Connie with the obligatory “It’s so great to see you again” and customary hug.  I then would tell her “we’ll talk some later”.  As one of the hosts for the event, I would then excuse myself to greet other new arrivals.  After dinner, I would go over to Connie’s table and engage in short, polite, conversation and then disengage. I would not introduce her to my wife, because there is absolutely no need for that.  Because that would be extremely awkward and I really wanted to avoid that.

The big night arrived and I was in the middle of a lively conversation, when I glanced over and saw her. Our eyes did not meet as much as they locked. I think engineers used this type of human response when they invented missile radar locking systems.  My current conversation ended abruptly. Can’t remember who I was talking with or what I was talking about, heck I don’t know, maybe I even stopped mid-sentence.

I was immediately drawn across the room, I think this is the concept scientists used when they invented magnetism. No words were spoken before the hug.  The hug was surreal, there was no tension, it was relaxed, it was totally natural.

Feelings, wo-o-o feelings,
Wo-o-o, feel you again in my arms*

Connie seemed delighted to see me. Of course, I was happy to see her, but not that happy, because I have no feelings. No feelings, nope, don’t feel it.
After the hug, I told her how good it was to see her and that we would talk more later.  Just as planned, more guests arrived and I excused myself to greet them. I love it when my plans work perfectly. I was feeling good and even a little smug, at this point.

But the evening was about to take a bizarre turn and spiral completely out of control.  I was in the back corner of the hall munching on some free appetizers (they were homemade by classmates) and talking sports with the husband of a classmate, when I almost chocked on my cheese chunk.

Way over in the far opposite corner, all by themselves, I saw my wife and Connie engaged in conversation.  How was this even possible?  As planned, I had not even introduced them earlier, but they had apparently met on their own and were now talking up a storm.  My superb plan had started to unravel like an old sweater.

“What could they be talking about?” I wondered. My first inclination was to sprint over there and put a stop to this.  Then I realized they might be talking about me. That possibility made me consider running out the back door and never coming back.  

And this just wasn’t polite, “I just met you” conversation, either.  There were laughing and chatting just like best friends.  Again, how is this even possible?  They just met and they have nothing, absolutely nothing, in common, right?  Oh --- oh, oh, oooooh.  Okay, so apparently, I have a “type” – a personality type, if you will.  I would strongly have denied this was the case before that evening.  But now it appears that obviously, I do, and I never deny things that are obvious.

It was impossible for me to concentrate of my conversation with this distraction happening in my sight line.  I was glancing over every twenty seconds or so, hoping desperately that Connie and my wife would stop yacking away.  Finally, after what seemed liked hours to me, they had parted.

However, a few minutes later, as I continued to hob nob with my classmates, I noticed my wife quickly walking towards me with a big smile on her face.  She obviously had something important to tell me, what could it be?  

“Good news, Connie and her sister are going to sit with us!” she exclaimed.  I smiled wildly and proclaimed. “That’s great!”  She then turned and departed.
Great, that is just great. Really, really, great. It was amusing that my wife was so happy that her new best friend was going to sit with us.  But now my seemingly perfect plan was holding together as well as a seeding dandelion in a tornado.  I began to experience a mild panic attack.  My pulse quickened, my breathing intensified and I felt my blood pressure rising.  I attempted self-talk to calm down “It’s going to be okay. You can do this. Everything will be fine”, I told myself.  And that worked, the panic attack stopped, for about all of 30 seconds, until I remembered:

The joke, the joke, THE JOKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

After dinner, Stuts and I were doing a short comedy routine (with me wearing a hippie wig).  We would state some interesting facts about our classmates (from Stuts’ e-directory) and then make some funny quips about them.  Stuts had
insisted we include that Connie now lived in Middle-of-Nowhere, Wyoming to the skit. I initially had trouble coming up with a good joke about this, so I went with this:

Stuts: “Connie lives on a ranch in some place called Middle-of-Nowhere, Wyoming and rides horses every day.

Me: You know, I really liked her in high school.  In fact, I planned to marry her.

Stuts: Well that explains it!

Me: Explains what?

Stuts: She obviously moved to Wyoming so you couldn’t find her and those horses are for a fast getaway, if you ever did!

There was no way, absolutely no way, to tell that joke with my wife and Connie seated a few feet from each other.  I knew the joke could upset my wife, and was taking an obvious risk.  The joke could also embarrass Connie, but I never anticipated her sitting at my table.  This had the potential for a huge disaster.  My master plan was now subject to a nuclear explosion, fortunately I was in control of the detonator.

As a more severe panic attack started, I needed to find Stuts right away to tell him we had to cut that joke from the routine!

-      Will Don be stupid enough to actually tell that joke?

-      What is going to happen at that table during dinner?

-      What 40-year old secret will be revealed?

Watch for the thrilling conclusion in Part Two of this post coming to the blog site soon!

  * lyrics by Morris Albert

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