Monday, January 30, 2012

Great Lovers I have known--V--Craig Johnson

Great Lovers I have Known—Craig Johnson

Craig Johnson and I had served together in the army, but he was discharged one year before I was. We had always planned to live together as soon as I got out, which we did. We lived in the basement of an elderly couple’s home in very cramped quarters, but we didn’t need much and the rent was definitely right at $25 each a month for the four of us. One roommate, Alma _____ was Craig’s friend from Mesa. We didn’t see a great deal of him, because he was engaged and spent most of his free time with his fiancĂ©e. Our other roommate, Paul _____, I have described in a previous essay.
Craig was the most humble, soft-spoken, mild-mannered man I think I have ever known. The longer I get to know people, generally, the more I become acquainted with, not only their strengths, but their weaknesses. But the longer I knew Craig, the more I became convinced that he had none. In our theology, when a person becomes perfect he is translated, more or less like the prophet Elijah, who was taken up by a chariot into heaven. It just seemed to me almost unfair that someone as kind and considerate as Craig would be subjected to the same sort of trials and abuse as the rest of us. I somehow expected that someone like Craig, who never lost his temper, who seemed always in perfect control of himself, deserved every bit as much as Elijah to be taken up. Of course, that was before I was married and had children and came to realize that someone can be perfectly mild-mannered when he has only himself to be responsible for, but that mild manner can be severely tested when dealing with a teen-ager that everyone assumes you should have some, at least, responsibility for. At any rate, it was a bit of a challenge to one’s faith, or something like that, to see someone so perfect still there with the rest of us. All that changed in one very revealing incident.
Craig was driving with Paul and me in the car down 7th East in Provo. We hit 5th North where there is a 4-way stop, but a rather unusual one, because one of the streets is not properly a street at all but an entrance road into an apartment complex. We were following a girl in her late teens or early twenties when she stopped at the stop sign in front of us. I don’t know whether it was the unusual nature of the 4-way stop or whether she simply wasn’t paying attention, but for whatever reason, when it was her turn to pull into the intersection she just sat there until finally the driver next in line pulled out.
Quick as a flash, Craig jumped out of our car, threw his fist up into the air and yelled, (before then I had never heard him raise his voice, I didn’t even know that he could yell). At any rate he yelled out in an angry tone of voice, “Lady, you move that car, and you better be quick about it, or I’m coming up there and move it for you!”
Having said that, he jumped back into the car, because the lady had pulled her car into the intersection before he had even finished with his threat. Paul and I sat there with our mouths open.
“Some people just don’t pay attention to what they’re doing when they’re driving,” Craig said by way of self justification. For my part, I realized that there was at least something that Craig could learn before he was taken up like Elijah.
Every week Craig and I would sit down, usually about Tuesday and begin stewing over the question of who to ask out for the week-end. Since we were both approaching 30 we felt that is was more or less obligatory for us to have dates for both Friday and Sat. and possibly one for a fireside on Sunday. Paul, as mentioned in a previous essay, never seemed to worry about it until a few minutes before the date and Alma, our other roommate, was engaged. Craig and I would banter names back and forth hoping to get suggestions and even encouragement. For my part, if I had spent the time studying that I spent worrying about and actually getting dates, I would probably have my PhD and possibly even a Nobel Prize by now. Craig’s task, while almost as bad, was never quite as bad, because on most week-ends, a girl would ask him out, usually to a church dance. So after a few weeks when he said, “who could I ask out this week-end?” I responded with, “Why don’t you ask one of the girls on the ballroom dance team? They are all certainly very cute, and they also all seem to like you.”
“They are cute,” he acknowledged, “but they just don’t seem to be my type. They lack something that is really important to me.” He never seemed to be able to pin-point exactly what that “something” was, indeed, I’m not certain he even knew himself.
The week after the events I recorded in “Paul”, I decided I needed to do something to make amends as best I could with Jill Hunter, largely, because, contrary to what I had told Paul, I really was still hopeful that something “would work out” between us. I decided that the best plan would be to take Craig with me to their weekly sing-a-long, so that she could see that I also associated with “better quality folk”. So I asked Craig if he would be willing to go along with me and maybe, if the occasion arose, put in a good word in my behalf. He said that he would be glad to, so off we went.
Jill greeted me warmly, as she always did, and seeing that I had brought someone with me asked me who he was. I responded, “This is my roommate, Craig Johnson. He like Paul is on the ball-room dance team, but he’s nicer.” I quickly added.
“How could he not be?” she said laughing.
Well we had a great time. We began by introducing ourselves and then moved over to the piano where we began the customary sing-a-long, with Jill playing. Craig, of course, shined. He was not only a remarkable dancer; he was also a great singer with a very mellow, appealing baritone voice. We had sung about 4 or 5 songs when Jill turned the playing over to one of her roommates and disappeared into the kitchen. A few minutes later, one of Jill’s roommates went into the kitchen to answer the phone and came out saying, “Is there a Craig Johnson here?” Craig said that it was him. “You’re wanted on the phone, it’s in the kitchen,” the roommate continued. Craig disappeared into the kitchen and the rest of us continued with the sing-a-long. As we did so, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Who on earth could have called Craig. I didn’t know that we told anyone that we were coming.” Then it occurred to me that it was probably Paul, who knew where we were going. After a few minutes Craig returned and a few minutes later Jill came out with the customary cookies. We sang a few more songs and I said we needed to go.
“Already?” Jill said in a disappointed voice, “You just got here.” I made some excuse. The truth was, I was really curious to know what was so important that Paul would call us at Jill’s. The only reason I could think of was that he felt obligated to warn Craig to keep a close eye on the hatchet and if Jill started to move in that direction to make a very hasty exit.
“What did Paul want?” I asked after we had left the house.
“It wasn’t Paul.” Craig said quietly.
“It wasn’t Paul? Who else knew we were at Jill’s?”
“It was Jill.”
“Jill! I don’t understand. If she wanted to talk to you why didn’t she just do it there?”
“Well, I hope you don’t mind, but you did say that you were all over her. She went next door to use the phone so she could ask me to her ward dance without you hearing. Like I said, since you had told me that you were over her anyway, I agreed to go. I hope you don’t mind.”
“I don’t mind at all”, I said very sincerely, because I realized with that, that I was indeed “over Jill”. It was like a large weight had been lifted from my back.
Craig went with Jill to the dance, but I am afraid that honesty forces me to tell something else about Craig. Of course, his was a weakness that all of us must confess up to. Well, not really “all of us”, because of course, there are some of us who have never been asked out by a girl, but most of us have and when we are, we are generally faced with the challenge that courtesy requires that we reciprocate. Now, if my memory serves me correctly, I personally failed to reciprocate only twice—once in the 9th grade and once when I was a senior—but the one when I was a senior shouldn’t really count because the girl was from out of town and I didn’t know her phone number—of course, someone could argue that I could have—maybe, even should have, gotten her phone number, but that is merely being nitpicky. I will have to admit that if looked at from a percentage standpoint, I still am in no great position to criticize having been asked out (again, if my memory serves me correctly) only 4 or five times altogether, so obviously, I am not being severely critical of Craig, but only somewhat critical when I point out, that I don’t think he reciprocated by asking out all the girls who asked him out. Naturally, he knew he was supposed to, and, speaking in his favor, I am bound to say that I think he always intended to and always planned to and always said he wanted to, but I think time just got away from him and he felt, after several weeks, embarrassed and simply let it slide. Of course, when a fellow is being asked out almost every weekend, sometimes it is tough to reciprocate as etiquette requires and still have a dating life of your own—or, at least, it seems to me that could possibly be a legitimate excuse—unfortunately, I wouldn’t know. I happen to mention all this, not because I wish to shatter anyone’s image of Craig, but just to point out that I don’t think he ever asked Jill out again after their first date. Of course, he might have taken her to a school assembly or met her on campus for lunch, which I would not know about and I’m not sure that would really count as reciprocating anyway.
Well, I digress. What happened next—or, at least, what continued to happen is that Craig and I would hem and haw and stew every weekend about who we should ask out. Of course, I had to hem and haw and stew a great deal more because, as pointed out above, I usually had to fill two weekend nights with dates, and he had to fill only one—in fact, if he had always reciprocated, he would not have needed to hem and haw at stew hardly at all.
At the start of the second semester we went to church (we always went to church during the first semester too, but I am about to describe what happened the first Sunday of the second semester). During Church it was announced that a new girl had moved into the ward who wanted to form a church choir and that those wishing to sing in said choir should stay after church for practice. Well, both Craig and I did.
After we got home from choir practice, Craig began to wax eloquent on how attractive and commendable in every other way he could think of the choir director was. He said, “Merrill, I wonder if she would go out with me, if I asked her.” I said, “sure”. Which I honestly believed but it puzzled me a great deal, because to my way of thinking she was not all that attractive. In fact, I was pretty sure that she would even go out with me if I asked her. In order to understand all this I think an explanation is in order. It will help with the explanation I mention that her name is “Barbara”. I don’t remember her last name—I think it might have been “Johnson” but possibly could have been something else. I hope that I am not giving too much away when I state that I know for a fact that it is “Johnson” now.
The attractiveness issue requires an explanation. At BYU at that time the girls wanted, for the most part, at least, to be considered attractive and the best way to be obviously attractive was to look like someone. Now the “someone” that it was most popular to look like at that time was Julie Andrews. The “Sound of Music” was the most popular movie and all the girls who could wanted to look as much like Julie Andrews as possible—and, I must say right off, that some of them were quite good at it—of course, perfect candor forces me to admit that many were not. Naturally, for most, looking like Julie Andrews was simply not in the cards. In that case, they would try to look like Audrey Hepburn, or Rita Hayworth or even Mary Tyler Moore or someone like that. Well, the girls that Craig normally dated, especially, the ones on the ballroom dance team that asked him out all looked like one of those movie stars. The problem, it seemed to me, was that Barbara didn’t look like any of them—or at least, if she did look like a movie star, I missed that movie—and being not very imaginative (i.e. always taking my dates to movies) and being required, as described above, to go on two dates a week—I didn’t miss many.
There were, however, two things about Barbara that I think strongly attracted Craig. First, she had perfect, incredibly perfect posture—even, unlike Janet Bush (if you remember her from an earlier essay)—when she sat down, and I suspect, that posture is always important to a dancer. And second, she had the most winning smile. Of course, all the girls smiled at least occasionally, when they thought circumstances required it, but with Barbara it was spontaneous and natural and almost constant.
To make a long story short (it really wasn’t all that long anyway), Craig got his date the very next weekend. After that he simply turned down all the other girls and before you knew it (this is a trite expression that I felt obligated to use—I knew it long before “before you knew it”) they were engaged. And it wasn’t too much longer after that that they were married.
Several years later, after I was married, Craig and Barbara and several children happened to be coming through Salt Lake and asked if they could stay with us. At the time we had no children (which means that it was very soon after I was married), and had one of those couches that fold into a bed so we were glad to have them. I mention this because Craig was, if possible, even more mild-mannered and affable than before and Barbara more smiley, which at the time did not surprise, or even impress me. It was only after I had a few children of my own that I realized what a remarkable achievement that was.
In my minds eye, I can see Craig driving somewhere in Arizona, behind a rather inattentive driver who comes to a 4-way stop and, for whatever reason, fails to move forward when it is his turn. I can see Craig pushing open his car door, throwing his fist into the air, and almost yelling when he suddenly remembers that Barbara and some of the kids are in the car. Pulling his arm down, I can see him rather quietly climbing back into the car and rather sheepishly saying, “I felt a need to stretch”. I can see Barbara flashing that wonderful encouraging smile of hers, quietly laying her had on his knee and saying softly, “its ok. It bothered me too.”

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Addendum to Paul

Addendum to Paul

In the interest of total disclosure, I have to add this caveat to the story of Paul. A few years ago Jill Hunter’s daughter moved in up the block from us where she lived for about a year while her husband completed medical school. The result was that we got to see Jill at church every now and then. Just before her daughter moved I got Jill’s address and wrote up the story about her and Paul, thinking that she would love it. In fact, I could actually picture the family—her children and grandchildren--gathered around the fireplace on Christmas eve and one (or several) of them saying—after they had read the Christmas story—“Mom, please read us the story about you and that boy that you chased with the hatchet.
Well, a couple of weeks after I mailed her the story, I ran into Jill (now Jill Tingey) at the BYU Creamery. “Did you get my the story I mailed you?” I asked expectantly.
“I did,” she said in a very frosty tone of voice, “and I don’t mind telling you, I didn’t like it.”
“Oh,” I said in a disappointed tone of voice as the vision of her family gathered around the Christmas tree listening to my story went up the chimney with the rest of the smoke.
“It certainly didn’t paint a very flattering picture of me,” she continued. For one thing, I’m sure that I never in my life chased anyone with a hatchet.”
I was about to protest. I was about to point out that I distinctly remember the wicker basket by the door with the neatly stacked pile of wood with the hatchet lying on top. I was about to point out that she could ask anyone, she could even ask my wife, if I would ever in a thousand years remember such a thing if it was not deeply impressed on my mind. And it was deeply impressed on my mind by the memory of her stooping down and picking up the hatchet before she charged out the door with it.
As I say, I was about to mention all this, but I remembered that you only argue with a woman if you are running against her in a political contest and even then, only very very carefully, so I refrained.
I mention all this by way of admitting that the above story has not gone entirely unchallenged, especially the detail of the hatchet, and, of course, without that detail, the story is hardly worth telling.
I also added this note because I suspect that many, when I tell the story of my roommate, Craig Johnson, will suspect that I made the part relating to Jill Hunter up, or, at least, telescoped the time. But I did neither. I am much more certain of those events even than I am of the part in the previous story about the hatchet, and, I am quick to add, I’m pretty certain about the hatchet. And, finally, it not only happened, but it happened exactly one week later.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Great Lovers I have known--IV--Paul

Great Lovers--IV--Paul

While we were together in the army, Craig Johnson and I had agreed that we would room together when I got out. Since he got out a year before I did, he had already found a place to live. On my return, he warned me that of the two roommates who were going to share our apartment, one, Paul----, was rather different. Of course, having been at school already 4 ½ years, I was used to “different” roommates so that didn’t bother me at all.
I actually met Paul the day before school when we were both walking to our new apartment from campus. He informed me that, although he realized that the apartment was small for four fellows, that he would need to install a rather large safe in the apartment. I immediately protested. To say that the apartment was small was an understatement. We were paying only $25 a month, but we were getting no more than we were paying for. Our bedroom consisted of the two sets of bunk beds and exactly enough space for one person—one rather thin person--to walk between them. At one end on the room were two sets of dresser drawers, at the other a small closet. The living room consisted of a small table, a couch and two chairs. The kitchen was so small that only two of us could sit at the small table at the same time. The bathroom was situated in the unfurnished half of the basement which the landlord used as a storage room.
“Maybe you could put your safe in the landlord’s storage room amongst the old boxes and shelves of bottled raspberries and peaches,” I suggested, trying to be helpful.
“Too dangerous,” he responded. “I need the safe to store my gold and anybody could go into the storage part of the basement and steal.”
“Your gold?” I asked incredulously. “What are you doing with gold at school? If you have that much gold, why don’t you leave it in the bank at home, or even here?”
“I need to have immediate access to it. That’s what I do. I buy and sell gold.”
It turned out that he was convinced that he would soon be a millionaire selling gold. It turned out that Paul was so sure that he would soon be rich that he had registered for only one class—ballroom dance, so he, along with Craig could be on the ballroom dance team. But in order to do that he had to be a full-time student, so he had paid full tuition and registered for 16 hours of audit credit. I soon learned that our new roommate was definitely different than the average student. It soon became apparent that our soon-to-be-a-millionaire roommate was exceedingly tight with his money, so much so that he was always last to pay his share of the bills and complained the loudest at having to pay them at all. But it was in his dating that he was the most different and to understand it, I must digress for a moment..
Before I was drafted I had dated (very briefly) Jill Hunter. I was much enamored of Jill, but so were many others and it was very difficult to get a date with her. When I returned, she was still unmarried so I resumed my courtship—or, more accurately, attempts at courtship--where I had left off, and with even less success than I had before going into the army. This discouraged me but I did not give up. The one thing I could always do with Jill was to go over to her apartment on Sunday afternoons. There, along with all the other would-be suitors and her roommates’ boyfriends, we would sing songs, chit chat and usually, one of the girls would bring cookies for treats.
But, of course, being almost 30 years old and still not married, I felt that it was incumbent on me to date, at least once, and preferably twice on every week-end. Craig felt the same way. So early in the week we would begin stewing, moaning, and asking ourselves and anyone who would listen, “who can I ask out this week-end?” I was a little puzzled why Craig would ask that, as I will explain in the next segment dealing more with him, but basically, it was because he was on the ballroom dance team and there were, therefore, plenty of girls he could ask out. In fact, on most week-ends he had at least one date with a girl who had asked him out.
When, however, I would ask Paul who he planned to ask out, he would simply reply, very flippantly, “I never think about it until the night I want to go out.”
“But,” I protested, “you can’t do that. All the sharp girls will already have been asked out by then.”
“I simply tell them to break their dates and usually they do,” he responded, with what seemed to me was a bit of overconfidence—even a bit of—and maybe more than a bit of ego. But after a few weeks, I discovered he wasn’t kidding. He really would call a girl up, usually less than an hour before the intended date and say something like, “Hi, Babe. Tonight is your lucky night. I need a date to the movies, so naturally I thought of you.” If he got a response like, “Who is this?’, he, in turn, would respond with, “You’re kidding, of course, but just to humor you I’ll tell you that this is Paul.” After the obligatory, “Oh hi, Paul. I’d love to go but I can’t. I already have a date.” He would say, “Cancel it. This may be your last chance to go out with me.”
Of course, I had always heard that there were those types of lovers—or, more accurately, daters—out there, but I assumed they were pretty much confined to the movies or TV shows. The fact that there might be a real person out there that actually talked and acted like that had never occurred to me. And I would have assumed that this was all merely the same sort of braggadocio that assured us that within the year he would be a millionaire except for two facts. First was the fact that on at least some occasions this approach actually worked, albeit, not always, and I don’t think, from what I observed, even most of the time, but occasionally, it did. The other, and more critical, convincer, for me at least, that Paul actually did work some sort of charm over women, was the fact that Patty Duke seemed not only to like him, but to be crazy about him. Patty was in our home-evening group and was easily the cutest and most vivacious girl in the group. What was more to the point, for me at least, was that she was a junior, and, therefore, I felt, a dating possibility. But, she exhibited little interest in me, and a great deal of interest in Paul, so I decided that there must be something more than mere braggadocio to his self-affirmed charm. (Parenthetically, I must say, that well into the semester, I asked Craig why he did not ask Patty out. “I am not in the habit of asking 16 year old girls out,” he responded. “Sixteen!” I exclaimed, “how could she be sixteen? She’s a junior.” ((It turns out that by the time I asked she had actually just turned 17)). He explained that she had graduated from a private school in Canada and had started college at an unusually early age.)
At any rate, I was beginning to think that there was more to Paul’s ability to attract women than I could readily see.
Well into the semester I had just asked Jill Hunter out for the umpteenth time and been turned down and was, therefore, obviously in the dumps. Paul said, “I don’t understand it. Why do you keep asking that girl out the same way. You need to change your approach. Treat her like I treat the girls I ask out. Don’t ask her several days before the date. Call her up an hour before you want to go out with her and just tell her you’re coming over to take her to the movies.”
“That wouldn’t work,” I responded, “she would already have a date by then.”
“So what?”, he said forcefully, “Tell her to cancel it and that you’ll be over to take her out.”

“That may work for the girls you date,” I said, implying that his dates were somehow “easy”, “but it wouldn’t work with Jill.”
“My eye!” he exclaimed. “I’ll bet I could get a date with her any day of the week at a moment’s notice.
“I don’t think so,” I said skeptically.
“I tell you what,” he added helpfully, “when you’ve pretty much given up on that girl, I’ll go over with you on you Sunday afternoon visits, meet her, and within an hour or less, I’ll have her licking my boots. That will give you an opportunity to see how it’s done with the next girl you’s like to date.”
Well, of course, at first I rather declined to be involved with that kind of an experiment, but after a few weeks of being turned down and listening to Paul’s subsequent tauntings, I threw in the towel.
“Alright,” I said, “why don’t you go over with me this coming Sunday night?”
“Now you’re sure you won’t be bitter or angry when she falls at my feet and begs me to take her out?”
“No,” I assured him. “I’ve finally given up with her. Besides, I really would like to see you in action. Maybe I could pick up a few pointers.”
So it was agreed that on the following Sunday I would take Paul with me to the weekly sing-along at Jill Hunter’s house. It wasn’t really her house in the sense that it was where her family lived, but she and about four other girls were renting a rather nice house on 5th East between 4th and 5th North.
After we knocked, Jill answered the door. “Oh Merrill,” she said enthusiastically, “We’re so glad you came. We always like it when you come over. And who is this that you’ve brought with you?”
“This is Paul, my roommate,” I said as we stepped into her front room.
“Why on earth did you bring him?” she asked almost disdainfully. I was shocked. In all the years I had known Jill she had never said anything negative about anyone and to make such an unkind remark was absolutely baffling. It was also very embarrassing because it seemed almost like I had warned her that Paul had boasted that she would be licking his boots after just a few minutes of contact. But I had not said a word to her about him, or even told her that I was bringing a roommate. I had brought other friends before and she had always been the very soul of kindness and even enthusiasm that I was bringing a friend over. It was most puzzling.
After a few minutes we gathered around the piano, as we usually did, with Jill playing and the rest of us singing. After a few bars Jill stopped playing, turned around a said to Paul, “You sound terrible, sing softer—much softer—or preferably not at all.” Again, I was floored. It was so completely out of her character, or at least, as I had always known it. After singing for a few minutes, Jill left the piano playing to a roommate and disappeared into the kitchen. After a few minutes she came out carrying a plate of cookies. She handed them around and offered me some and Paul reached over to take one.
“You can’t have any, “ she said pulling the plate away from him.
“Why not? You gave them to everyone else, “ he demanded to know.
“You don’t deserve any, “ she responded cruelly and walked out of the room with her plate.
“I think we better go, “ I said. “I really don’t understand it,” I continued, “She’s never been like this with anyone before.”
“I agree we should go,” he said, “but this girl is weird.”
“I think we better go,” I said when she came back into the room.
“Already?” she said in a surprised voice. “You just got here. But know that you are welcome any time, but don’t bring him with you next time,” she added pointing to Paul.
“That does it, “Paul exclaimed as he planted himself directly in front of her. “Since I got here a few minutes ago you’ve been nothing but rude and mean to me and I demand to know why!”
“You know very well why,” she said putting her hands on her hips and looking defiantly at him.
“That’s crazy. I have never seen you before in my life. If you think I’ve ever done anything to warrant the kind of behavior you’ve exhibited toward me, you’ve got me confused with someone else.”
“You and I were together at Ron Smith’s party last night.”
“I was at Ron Smith’s party but I don’t remember seeing you there. I’m sure I didn’t speak to you, much less do anything to justify the kind of behavior I’ve been subjected to here today.”
Jill grabbed her hair, which was long, flowing almost to her waist, and bunched it up on her head. “ I was wearing my short-hair wig so I looked at little different,” she started to explain but before she had even got that far, Paul was pointing at her excitedly.
“You, You! You!” he gurgled excitedly and then without saying anything else, he made a mad dash for the door, threw it open and ran out without bothering to close it behind him. In the same instant, Jill was after him, pausing only to pick up the hatchet laying on top of the wood stack at the door. She raised the hatchet over her head and ran after Paul like an Indian on the war-path pursuing someone with the intent to scalp him,
The front porch was a three-quarters waist-high enclosed that required a fast left turn in order to go down about 5 steps onto the sidewalk. Paul didn’t make the turn. He simple leaped over the porch railing and ran into the night. Jill, unable, or unwilling, to leap the railing ran around the side, descended the steps and chased him into the night.
The rest of us, Jill’s roommates, the other boyfriends, and I remained in the house looking through the open door dumbfounded. Shortly, Jill came back.
“He got away,” she announced with obvious disappointment. “Merrill, where on earth did you pick him up anyway?”
“He’s my roommate,” I repeated from the introduction.
“Oh, yeah, I forgot. Well don’t ever bring him back here again.”
“But, I don’t understand,” I said, more baffled than ever. “Whatever could he have done to cause you to act that way toward him?”
“Last night we were at a party together. He kept coming up to me and saying things like, ‘Hi tots, why don’t we hang out together’. When I told him, very politely, that I didn’t care to he kept saying things like, ‘you know you’re dying to get to know me better’. I told him to please leave me alone, but he kept bothering me. Soon he was trying repeatedly to put his arm around me and when I pushed him away he simply refused to give up but kept trying to put his arm around me so I decided that the only way to get rid of him was to bite him. So I did. He is a first class jerk. I don’t ever want to see him again.”
“I’m sorry,” I said sincerely. “I had no idea.”
She assured me that she still liked me and that I was welcome to come over anytime and I took off. About a block or so away from her house, I saw someone lurking behind a tree in front of me. I was a little nervous but I decided to proceed bravely forward. As I got close to the tree I heard a loud whisper, “Merrill, is that you?” It was Paul so I relaxed.
“What happened at that party?” I asked.
“Oh Merrill, you are well rid of that girl,” he said vehemently. “She is a witch if ever there was one. I was at a party last night. I was doing absolutely nothing, just minding my own business, when out of the blue, she comes up to me and for no reason whatever, she bites me!”
“That is strange,” I acknowledged, refraining from repeating her side of the story.
“Strange? That girl is a witch if ever there was one.”
We continued our walk home in silence, with me with some effort suppressing the desire to remind him of his boast that she would be licking his boots.