Friday, May 7, 2010

Little Love Stories. Part Three. The Girlfriend

July 1985 

We decided to stay in Muncie that summer. Ethan was taking classes and I got a job at Sears in the mall. We moved into neighboring studio apartments in the basement of a columned colonial on University Avenue. The landlady, a gruff old bird named Mrs. Blix, claimed that David Letterman lived there when he was a student at Ball State.  She'd tell anyone who'd listen about what a slob he'd been.

Although we had two studios next to each other, Ethan and I shared his, which was nicer and bigger. We filled our days with giddy, young love, shared a twin bed and didn’t mind so much. We got addicted to reruns of Hogan’s Heroes and M.A.S.H. and when those shows weren’t on, we played a computer version of Monopoly on his Commodore 64.

We were playing house and it was lovely.
Someone was knocking on the door. Ethan and I lay paralyzed for a moment. What if it was Mrs. Blix? We'd assured her that slept in our own beds. She’d been adamant that unmarried people would not be “fucking in her house.”

Ethan sat up, not sure what to do. I climbed over him. “I’ll hide in the bathroom,” I scampered across the room, and shut the door behind me. I pressed my ear to it to hear.  I could hear a woman, but it didn’t sound like Mrs. Blix’s gravelly voice. I pushed my ear harder against the door. My heart pounded and I was annoyed that I couldn’t make out the words.

I cracked the door a little and peeked out. I couldn’t see Ethan, but I could hear him. He sounded nervous. No, he sounded really nervous. I opened the door a bit more and leaned out. He was there, leaning against the wall, the door partially opened in front of him. His bare chest stood out in stark contrast to his navy blue sweatpants. He ran his fingers through his dark hair and smiled at the person in the doorway.

The door blocked my view so I couldn’t see to whom he spoke, but I heard the voice clearly enough.  It belonged to a young woman – and she sounded cute.  I decided to make my presence known. I swung the bathroom door open and sauntered across the room to sit on the bed so that the person in the doorway could see me.

Ethan swung around.  I saw a cloud of fear pass over his face, his smile frozen. I gave him a stony look.  My heart beat double time and my pulse assisted by drumming in my ears.

Ethan turned slowly back to the young woman at the door. She stood there smiling with her open, friendly face. Her dark eyes were muted by her glasses. She wore her shiny brown hair in a chin-length bob and had decked herself out in a navy blue slicker with matching rain boots.  Little ducks dotted the ensemble.  I hated her.

Ethan still didn’t react. I cleared my throat and waited.  The young woman looked from him to me. We were waiting for him to make the next move.

“Um, right. Um, um……,”  It was painful to watch. “Um, this is Cynthia,” he stammered, gesturing to the slicker chick whose smile grew wider as she nodded my way. 

“Ah, uh, um…..Cynthia is in my photography class. She just stopped by to say hi.”  It came out in a rush.  He cast his eyes to the floor.

I tried to smile. I waited, my eyebrows raised, my eyes snapping shut and open, shut and open.  Ethan turned back to Cynthia. My mind was already racing with questions. How did she know where he lived? How did she find the exact apartment? What the hell was she doing here at 8:00 a.m. on a Saturday? In the rain? And what was she wearing under that slicker with its little duckies and matching rain boots?

Ethan shook himself, as if to try to deflect the angry vibes shooting in his direction. He finally found his footing, sort of. “Um, heh, um, Cynthia, this is, is…….is um The Girlfriend,” he managed. The second the words were out of his mouth, he winced.

“Actually, my name is Lisa,” I said quietly from the bed.

I paced the room while Ethan escorted Cynthia out.  My mind was whirling with invectives and questions, but mostly invectives. I’d already made up my mind what was going on. Cynthia was what Ethan did while I worked.

I heard the door open behind me. I wrapped my fingers around the first object I could find on the bar that separated the kitchen from the living area. Ethan moved fast, but not fast enough.  The Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup can connected with his forehead before he could speak.

Part 1
Part 2


  1. Ah yes...young love.

    I once cut the heads off roses and had the stems delivered the the culprit!

    loving it.

  2. Really well written Lisa and riveting tale to boot. More please! lol..

  3. Stressful! Very stressful to read! Ugh, Ethan!

  4. Excellent, Lisa. It sucked me right in.

    At least Ethan didn't visit ;-)

  5. Lisa,

    Nicely written again! Your story reminds me of a story I heard regarding a college dorm mate friend of mine T - circa 1971.

    T's - I think you'd say girlfriend - comes to T's house around 7:30 - 8:00 a.m. on a weekend morning - and is let in the house and waved in by T's housemate S.

    She's brought breakfast to serve him in bed. She walks into his room only to be greeted by T. with a female companion asleep together in his bed.

    It might have been forgiven - since they married thereafter and last I knew were married.

  6. You're supposed to save that for bowls of ice cream.

  7. Am really enjoying this little saga. I completely felt as if I was there in that room and knew exactly what the feeling must have been. Love the Hershey's syrup at the end, LOL!

  8. I really enjoyed these (I just found all three and got to read them all at once, in reverse order). They're so well written. Vivid, like I was watching them, not just reading them.

    Part two, and your reaction to being in the eye of the artist, was fascinating. Another person rises up from inside and takes over. You had not yet met that person, and here you were naked before him.

    And I think most people do not see their own beauty at all - they aren't looking for it (your case, I think - you couldn't believe it was there to find) or the beauty can't be seen in a mirror because it has to be unknowing and spontaneous, or because it's from an angle that can't be found in a mirror... Spotting it, or being surprised by it, is also startling. For the person who has it as well as for the one who sees it first. Beauty is quite different from sexual rapport, but it can be just as powerful, just as overwhelming, and just as intoxicating. It also creates cravings and longings. And it isn't only inspired by other people, of course. And like lust or hunger, fascination with beauty is stronger in some than in others - has more effect on their lives than on others'. Your story made me think all this - I hadn't thought about it all in quite this way before.

  9. This is a wonderful example of a young romance familiar to many many of us when as young women we understood nothing of hormonal drives. You can't help but take something so personal personally.

    Haven't we met Ethan previously as an adult and read about mutually tender memories?

  10. I once threw a piece of pizza at my former (newly-wed) husband who confessed to winking at a pretty woman in line at Disneyland during our belated honeymoon.

    Smacked him right in the eye with it! In the middle of the dining room of Pizza Hut near our hotel.

    (We'd been married 6 months: I was 3 months pregnant.)

    Winking and infidelity are not the same thing, but I was devastated; given the importance of our reason of being in California at that time.

  11. And after he sang Waiting For A Girl Like You to you,too - He's lucky the Hershey's can wasn't filled with battery acid. One didn't sing that song to just anyone back in the day, kids.



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