When I was a sophomore in high school I was secretly married. Well, it wasn't so secret since my best friend Gordy and I concocted the whole thing ourselves while trading notes back and forth between classes. You see, she and I were in love with two older boys -- Tad and Barry, who were seniors no less. Tad was mine, Barry was hers. They were best friends, very popular, too cute to believe, and didn't know we were alive. But in every multi-paged note Gordy and I swapped between classes that year, our relationships grew deeper, our stories more complex. We had an elaborate double wedding, spent our time hanging out as a happy foursome, and relocated to Boston (where Gordy and I were determined to move for college- neither of us did). Our lives were happy, as any good fantasy is.
This weekend, while pouring at a blowout champagne tasting in exchange for free booze, my former fantasy husband walked right up to my table. His face didn't register a bit. I filled up his glass without a second look, assuming he was just another yuppie looking to get a buzz on fine champagne. As I finished pouring he said, "You look familiar, what's your name?" I told him my first name and he immediately responded with my last. Clearly he knew who I was, but who the hell was he?
When he told me his name in return, I was stunned. Who is this person and why would he make up such a ridiculous story? Thank goodness I took that extra moment before I decided to give my instinctive reply of "Bullshit." Before I spoke, I looked him straight in the eye and I spotted it. Deep down in his eyes I could detect that glimmer, the one I'd studied so many hours in his senior year yearbook photo.
We chatted briefly a few times over the course of the evening. He was friendly and rather harmless. Turns out, he got married to a girl from our high school a year ahead of me and settled back in our old home town about 30 minutes away. A nice enough guy, but let's just say that the magic was gone. We grew apart. Suddenly those three years of age difference, which felt like an insurmountable chasm between us in high school, were now rendered irrelevant. He looked just like every other slightly bloated, balding late 30-something married dude I know.
I think he fancies himself a wine connoisseur, so when I told him I was volunteering to pour because my boyfriend knew everyone who worked at the well-known wine shop and restaurant, I could tell he was impressed. I pointed out Wine Guy down at the other table, who was frantically doling out the Cristal and fighting off the overeager posers who wanted a sip of the most expensive (and overrated) champagne on the list. Apparently, Tad had just spent some time chatting Wine Guy up about champagne and he seemed excited to know that he was my boyfriend.
It's not everyday you are so viscerally reminded of the fantasy life you maintained as an innocent 14 year old. It's pretty trippy, especially when you are buzzing pretty hard on champagne. Even though my memory of that cute 18 year old boy had clearly turned into a real-life married schlump, I apparently only needed that little kickstart for it all to come flooding back. The awkwardness, the drama, the girl talk, the lockers stuffed with elaborately folded notes, the sincere belief that I was invisible.
Even though Tad is far from this 34 year old girl's dream guy, the newly alert adolescent in me spent the rest of the night riding on the high that Tad - Tad! - recognized me. Oh my God! That means that back then he actually knew who I was! Cool! My first instinct is to write Gordy a note (in purple pen of course) and tell her all about it. But I'm sure that her duties as a wife, teacher, and mother of two probably don't give her much time for fanciful trips down memory lane, conjuring up tossed aside alternate realities covered in cobwebs and dust. Too bad. Plus, who remembers how to fold those damn notes anyway?