Emily said she was going to get better grades so she could call me and we could see one another again. And she did. She would do anything for me, she said. Oh, Christ, there is nothing purer, I'm sure, than young love. Shakespeare didn't write "Romeo and Juliet" out of nothing. People didn't flock to see the play because it was not relatable. Nor because they thought it was sensible. It is the silliest and wildest of flames that burns through the human heart, and the most painful thing of all.
After grades came out, her parents had little choice but to let her see me again, but they watched her like a hawk. I could walk her home again, and we would sit on her porch and talk all afternoon. She could call me, though she couldn't talk as long. But we were able to make plans. The Fair was coming, and we would go. Her parents would take us on a Saturday afternoon. This was not what we wanted exactly. A nighttime fair is another thing, but we were not going to get the cover of night. We would not be able to walk among the festival of lights and find dark corners to ourselves. We would be there at noon under the brilliant southern light.
We took what we could get.
It was our first real "date." We walked the midway hand in hand. It felt strange to be out on our own together such a crowd. We fairly clung to one anther for comfort. We did the usual things. We laughed as we rode the Ferris Wheel. We wandered hilarilously through the Hall of Mirrors. We stumbled our way through the Vortex Tunnel. We made our own Jackson Pollocks at a paint machine. We watched the daredevil motorcyclist ride The Wall of Death. We ate cotton candy and corn dogs and candied apples, and we had our handwriting analyzed by a computer. And, before we left. . . we sat in a Photo Booth to memorialize ourselves in one joyous and everlasting kiss.
And then it was time to meet her parents for the ride home. Nothing could have been less appealing.
That night, I was as lonesome as I could ever imagine being. It wasn't fair, I thought. Nothing made me happy but her. I lay in my bed listening to records, imagining us with our own house. There is nothing as dopey as what my parents told me was "puppy love," but, as I would later learn to say, everyone loves a puppy.