I thought, in my youthful naivete, that we would be friends forever. But 27 years later, I still don’t know why our friendship ended. Perhaps I should refer to it as a “purported” friendship or “presumed” friendship. If a friendship ends, does that mean it was never a true friendship (whatever that means), anyway?
I can no longer remember the first time I met him. I know that it was near the end of our high school years. We spent a lot of time together during the summer immediately following graduation. It was 1974 and we were excited about starting college. I spent my afternoons and evenings toiling at Straw Hat Pizza, making $2.00 per hour (that was the minimum wage then). My goal was to earn enough money to purchase a Fender classical guitar. I bought it just before school began in the fall and was relieved to abandon my pizza-making career in favor of resuming my studies. We spent a lot of late evenings at Lodi Lake — on the swings, walking around to the North side, lounging on the grass. And when school began, we car-pooled since our days began in the early morning and lasted until late at night when rehearsal for the latest offering from the Drama Department ended.
A couple of years ago, my girlfriends caught me off-guard when they found a photo of us in an old album and began reminiscing about my crush on him. I truly had no recollection of ever having any romantic feelings for him! Remarkably, I had completely forgotten that for a very brief period of time, I did entertain a few vagrant fantasies, but, in retrospect, they could only have been rebound-inspired. He was a gentle, sensitive, and considerate guy who sent me flowers on my birthday, opened the car door for me, and wrote a few poems dedicated to me. But his sexuality was never in question.
Which is what made the abrupt end of our friendship so shocking, illogical, and downright bizarre.