And just like that…Parke was gone (out of the state, but not out of mind). His presence still lingered on my clothes and on the balcony and in my car and in the air. I had tunnel vision and at the end of the tunnel was Parke. Over a weekend’s time I had fallen in love. Did I love Parke? No, but I was in love--completely infatuated--with him. However, the word “infatuation” cheapens what I was feeling. It was a sacred sort of infatuation, one that I was loyal to, one that I wanted to fiercely protect. There were men all around me but I was blind to them. Parke didn’t ask me to be his girlfriend. We didn’t even discuss our plans or future. But there was an unspoken commitment present.
After such a magical weekend, our separation through the summer seemed like an eternity. And although I could have dated other boys in the meantime, the thought repulsed me. Kissing another boy after Parke screamed infidelity. He must have been feeling the same because soon after his return to Wyoming I received this email:
“Ashley, I AM YOURS. There’s no more room in my heart; it’s overflowing with you. I can’t get you out of my mind. I wouldn’t want to anyway. I keep seeing your smile, your eyes- it’s locked into my memory. I can’t wait to see you again. I’m going to bed now, but I’ll see you in my dreams. Where would you like to go? I’ll take you there….”
Was this all a dream? It was too good to be true. Parke was constantly sending me reassuring love letters, pictures and cards. But the long distance allowed doubt to creep in.
Theoretically, if each person received a dating score based on their looks, personality and intellect, I liked to date guys with a tad lower score than me. That way, I’d feel secure- less likely to get dumped. I want to be the eye candy, not the other way around. And since I tended to date guys below my dating score, I’d developed an acclimation for mediocrity. However there was nothing, absolutely nothing, mediocre about Parke. Parke had a score that was equal or above mine and that made me nervous. I had been burned before while dating a guy above my score level.
I regress 2 years.
There was a convenient little photo shop by BYU campus that I would occasionally use to develop my film. One day I walked into the photo lab with Tyler, my flavor of the month. I dropped my film on the table without looking at the attendant; I was too wrapped up in my conversation with Tyler. When asked for payment, I looked up into the chiseled face of the photo booth employee. He was smiling at me in a way that I felt like buttoning my collar up. I smiled back because he was a hunk and a half. It was getting a little awkward at the counter since one guy was making eyes at me while another guy’s arm was around my waist. We left. As I drove away, I glanced toward the store and saw Hunkster beaming at me.
Later that day I walked into my apartment as the phone was ringing.
I breathlessly answered “Hello?”
“Is this Ashley?” a deep voice asked on the other end.
“This is Alex from the Photo Shop.”
Taken back, I managed “Really? Um, how did you get my number?”
“From the form you filled out” he admitted.
The voice continued. “I was looking through your pictures and I think I’d like to take you out”
Cough, choke. “You were looking through my pictures? Is that………..legal?”
(Instantly I scanned the pictures in my head. Did I turn in anything embarrassing?)
There was a pause before he started in again “So can I take you out on Friday?”
Hmmm, this guy is either a stalker or confidently self-assured, both irritating options. But, geez was he gorgeous. He obviously wants to get to know me bad enough that he risked his pride (and his job) by calling me. I love a guy who takes romantic risks. Furthermore, he was so bold that he asked me out after seeing another guy’s arm around my waist. I felt like a highly desired prize.
Slowly, I agreed. “OK…”
Before hanging up he added “I’ll bring your pictures. I know where you live.”
When I opened the door, I was reminded of why I said “OK”. Alex was tall, clean-cut, with biceps the size of my quadriceps. He was wearing loose jeans, white canvas shoes and a white shirt which complimented his California tan. I almost closed the door on him just to scream, or pinch myself or say a prayer of gratitude. But I didn’t. This guy pursued me? Impossible.
I have good self-esteem. I’m good enough, smart enough and doggonnit, people like me. (Sorry). I thought I was a pretty great catch, but still, there were some boys I just knew were out of my league. Alex was out of my league.
By chance, Alex and my roommate’s boyfriend, Brett, knew each other. Brett gave me the thumbs up, indicating that he was an honorable guy. That put my initial “stalker” impressions at bay.
The night went from great to "are you seriously kidding me?" when he opened up the door of his car for me. He drove my dream car: a forest green Toyota 4-Runner. Oh yeah, Alex is out of my league.
We went to dinner and to the Haunted Forest. The Haunted Forest was always an October-date “must”. Patrons file down a creepy path interjected with eerie sounds, Jack-o-lanterns, midgets, chainsaws, midgets with chainsaws and other freaky situations. It’s a great date situation because cuddling into your date’s protective embrace is a natural consequence of being chased by midgets with chainsaws. Halfway through the date, I realized that this guy was neither a stalker nor confidently self-assured at all. He was humble, though he had no reason to be. He was rich, funny and smart. He played on the BYU Rugby team and went on a mission to Peru, so he was fluent in Spanish. I basked in his glory.
After the Haunted Forest we hung at his apartment where he made brownies and a milkshake for me. Great. Add sugar to my love-drunken stupor. When he dropped me off at my apartment, he came in. We decided to watch a movie. The date would not end! And I was OK with that. When the movie was over, he got up to leave and pulled me to the door. There was only a glimmer of light in the dark room. We kissed; I was putty in his hands, err, lips. It was unparalleled.
Who am I?
The next week we saw each other 4 times. He took me to dinner, I brought him lunch, he left notes on my car and we talked on the phone. Up to that point, I had never been so head-over-heels intoxicated by another human being. I was ready to go to Vegas and make it official. But the honeymoon ended as quickly as it had started.
The next week I was over at his apartment. While he was in the bathroom and I noticed a piece of paper sitting on the coffee table halfway under a notebook. It was a list. I picked it up to examine it more closely. It was a list of girls’ names. I tracked down the list and found my name near the bottom. I wonder what this is. When he returned, with a hand on my hip, I held up the paper and demanded “What’s this?” I realized that I had discovered something scandalous by the look of horror on his face. Busted. He sheepishly admitted the truth. “All the guys on the rugby team are in a competition of how many girls they could kiss over the season. The winner gets the pot of money: $400.”
I about choked on my saliva. I looked around for a hidden camera, but there was none. Then I looked down at the list. I wasn’t even the last name on the list! I had to clarify:
“Are these in chronological order or order of preference?”
“Chronological” Phew- at least I wasn’t at the bottom of the list due to my kissing skills. BUT that meant that he had kissed a girl in the one week since spending every waking moment with me
I slowly walked up to him, cocked my shoulder back and punched him in the cheek. Hard. It was so hard that his face was thrown to the side and the ring on my finger left an indentation. My knuckles were stinging. No one treats me like that!!! I felt used and dirty. I felt like I had a lip STD. He collapsed to the ground, put his head in his hands and kept repeating over “I’m so, so sorry”. Unaffected, I crumpled up the list and threw it at his pathetic form and slammed the door.
Ok, that didn’t happen.
But that’s what I dreamed about doing afterwards. I did, however, crumple up the list, throw it at him and slammed the door right after I coolly stated “Don’t call”.
Well he did call. And we did end up going out a couple more times. Once I had demoted Alex to the “Boys to Roll With” category I felt better because there were no expectations, only fun. Afterwards I was actually amused by the whole situation and today I think it is hilarious.
Alex was fired from his job at the Photo shop. I can’t imagine why.
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