A Stone Skipping Over Water

Our relationship was like that – here and there only a moment of contact but with enough impact to make a mark. Not a bad one, mind you.

Our mothers played tennis together, and this was how we first met. My mother often dragged me to the courts and left me in the clubhouse with a lunchbox of toys. Even though I would’ve preferred being left at the swimming pool, this wasn’t often possible, but I had an active imagination and could make do with my toys and an almost-house.

One day, I sat upon one of the bamboo sofas with neon palm tree printed cushions (hey, it was the 80’s) and applied makeup to a Barbie head. He came in, looked at me, and said, “That’s terrible, and look at her hair!” It didn’t matter that he was six years older, he sat with me and showed me how to brush the tangles from her hair without ripping it out of her scalp. Why would he play with me? This, I asked my mother.  “He has a little sister. He knows your brother.” Judging by how rarely my brother allowed me to play with him, I couldn’t understand how this was an answer.

<long skip>

He sat with me on the porch of the clubhouse and helped me tear out dresses for my paper dolls. “Don’t be impatient or you’ll rip the folding tabs.” No, I couldn’t abide that. This obsessive trait, we mutually understood.

<long skip>

“Here,” my tennis coach said, “Practice returning Jason’s serve.” It glanced off the top of my racket and hit me in the chin. He crossed the net to have a look at it. “Sorry,” he said and smiled.

<long skip>

I stood beside an outdoor fireplace, plastic cup of keg beer in hand, chatting with another girl. I saw him and he me. “Oh my God! Is that you?” Yes, it was. “How old are you?” I was eighteen. “Really?” We talked for three hours.

<short skip>

I hugged him at his engagement party. By now, he was a dentist, and I was working on my bachelor’s.

<short skip>

I chatted with him at someone else’s engagement party, told him I was married and that I was a teacher. “You’re too smart to do that.” Well, kids need smart teachers. “It was good to see you.” You, too, and it was the last time.

<the stone sinks>

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