Sadie was a friend of a friend’s sister. Since everyone seems to be connected somehow, in spite of most of us being from different towns/cities, I had come to know Sadie through the same person I had come to know Doreen, and eventually Carol. However, I don’t think Doreen really knew Sadie and I doubt Carol has ever met her.
Anyway, I had seen Sadie around, and sometimes we’d even be at the same house at the same time to see our respective friends. After I had broken up with Anna, I didn’t really know where I was going or what I wanted in a relationship. I was only a teenager, but still, I was looking for a long term deal, not a fling. Again, this desire likely formed out of my parents splitting up when I was younger, which also provides some insight into why I held on so long to a spouse who wasn’t treating me so great.
If I had to describe Sadie in one word, it would be ‘cute’. She looked cute, she sounded cute, she had a cute personality. She was cute in many ways but not in an irritating way, like the girls who think/act like they’re cute, so they dial it up to 100, making for an experience similar to nails scratching a chalkboard. No, Sadie never tried to be ‘cute’, it just came naturally, which is the best kind of ‘cute’. I couldn’t tell you if we shared any interests. It’s been too long and I simply can’t remember all the details. I sure remember those eyes and that face, though. She was quite easy to look at.
Somehow, someone got the idea that we’d make a good couple because we found ourselves part of a double, maybe even triple date on New Year’s Eve. We all went to a movie where I sat next to Sadie, terrified. I knew I liked her but I didn’t know what to do. As the guy in the situation, it was on me to make the first move.
What enormous pressure boys can feel on dates. You don’t know if the girl likes you because even if she does, she doesn’t want to make it too obvious in case you’re not so into her. It’s up to you to read the situation and decide whether to risk making a move. A bold, confident man will surely not concern himself much with the risk of rejection, but an insecure teenage boy with very little experience with girls? Rejection is devastating. Hell, I was still reeling from the blow of rejection from asking a girl out before I was with Anna, and I was with her for over a year.
I sat in the dark in front of the movie I’ve long since forgotten, next to Sadie, wondering if I should make the move. My nerves were going crazy, I was sweating, my mind was racing. I couldn’t do it, I was frozen in place.
Suddenly, it was as if a fearless hunter had hacked through the dangerous jungle terrain of my conflicting thoughts and now stood before me triumphantly, machete in hand, with a confident smile surrounded by a manly salt and peppered beard.
I’ll tell you what you’re gonna do, Jack, said Joe. You’re gonna count down from ten and when you hit one, you’re gonna grab her hand, and hold it in yours.
Wha, I- what? I stammered.
Do it now, he answered then turned and disappeared back into the jungle.
10… 9… 8… 7… 6… 5… 4…
I gave my sweaty palm a quick wipe on my jeans.
Here I go…
I reached my hand out in the dark, found hers, and grabbed it. I could feel the heat coming off my face. If the lights were on, I’m sure I’d be the the same colour as a ripe tomato. Her hand moved slightly. I gulped. It curled around mine.
Success! I screamed in my mind. We have confirmation! She likes me back!
It was a beautiful feeling. I had taken the risk and I was rewarded. For all I know now, she may have dropped many hints already that she was into me, but I was just too oblivious to pick up on them back then.
I feel so good, I could kiss her, I thought. Kiss her? Oh, no…
That little burst of confidence was gone as quickly as it was there. I went no further for the time being.
We went to a friend’s house to celebrate New Year’s. I didn’t need plain old, hard earned courage anymore as it was readily available in liquid form. And I didn’t need to count in my head, as now everyone was counting down the seconds til midnight.
“3! 2! 1! Happy New Year!” We all cheered. We were one more year closer to finishing up the ’90’s, though we still had a little left to go, thankfully. Just a little bit longer before my teens would end and adulthood would begin. A few more years before I’d have to move on from my parents’ house and become fully independent. A few more years until Carol. Then Carol would become my wife, and I would make her a mother and she would make me a father, then I would be put in the oncology ward, then Carol would grow distant, then…
“Happy New Year, Sadie,” I said and gave her a big hug. Then I kissed her. She kissed back. We made out and the whole world blinked out of existence. It was just Sadie and I in that moment.
Oh, the endorphin rush from kissing. The euphoria: a great, pure high that you cannot get from any drug. Why must it go? Why must it fade as the lips you kiss become too familiar over the years? Think of how many marriages would still be thriving if the couple still got high from each other’s lips decades later. Carol used to make me feel this way. Did I feel it when we got back together last year? Maybe a spark of it. It’s surely not there now. Nor would it be if I continued to kiss Sadie’s lips over the years. Such is the curse of relationships that go beyond the honeymoon period. The buzz wears off and you need something more than chemical reactions to keep the both of you together. It’s the price you pay to have a life partner, or at least the person you hope to have as your life partner.
I pulled away from Sadie slightly and looked into her eyes. I could tell that she was feeling just as good as I. The sights and sounds of the room around us came back into focus. What if I had known then that I’d look back at this moment from time to time over the next 20+ years as the last, pure make out session I’d ever have? Sadie was the last girl that I’d ever make out with without it leading to touching then to sex, or attempted sex, or sex planned for later.
There wasn’t much to my relationship with Sadie, since my confidence never returned. I had such a crush on her that it messed with my head all the time. I really, really liked her, and out of my nearly crippling fear of screwing it all up, I avoided her for most of our brief relationship. And it was brief because within a few weeks, she had had enough of me and my avoidance, and ended it. The problem was, I made no effort to see her. The extent of our relationship was basically if she and I happened to be in the same place, we’d talk and hangout.
I had her number but I never tried to call her. Not even once. I was too afraid, so I did nothing. She was really into me and I sabotaged it because I couldn’t even pick up the phone and dial her number.
“Oh shit, I’m sorry, Sadie. I’ll call you, I promise.”
“It’s too late for that, Jack,” she replied then walked away. That was the end of it and I would beat myself up over it for years to come.
A while later I saw Sadie at a party. I told her I was sorry, that I screwed up, that I was too nervous then, that she should give me a fair shot now.
“It’s too late, Jack. I’m with — now.”
Too late again. Still.
Sometime after that, another ex-girlfriend of mine, Claire, took me to her senior prom. She didn’t have a date and my own prom had been a disaster, so I was happy to have a do-over, even if it meant going with an ex.
Well, it turned out to be a terrible idea. I thought Claire and I were decent enough friends but she wouldn’t even dance with me so I spent most of the night sitting at our table, alone. When the DJ announced it would be the last song, I thought, ah, what the hell?, and went to the dance floor alone in search of a nice young lady to share a dance with. When I got there, a yellow dress at the other end of the dance floor caught my attention. As I approached, the wearer of the dress turned around and faced me.
“Jack?!” It was Sadie. “Oh my god, it is you! How are you doing?”
“Hey beautiful, can I have this dance?” I asked.
“Of course!” Sadie said and walked up to me…
…only to be cut off by Claire. She grabbed my hands and put them on her waist, then placed hers on my shoulders.
“Claire, what the hell?” I asked.
“I’m dancing with you now, okay? So you can stop your whining,” she said half-jokingly.
“But I was gonna-”
“Nope, you’re with me,” she replied.
Defeated, I exchanged a glance with Sadie then danced with Claire. After all, I was her date.
At the after party, I managed to find some time alone with Sadie. We talked about what was happening in our lives. It was then that I got the bad news (too late again), that she had a boyfriend. It might’ve been the same guy as before for all I knew. I never remembered the name or gave a shit to know about him, or them.
“I really wanted to dance with you, Jack. It was so nice to see you again,” Sadie said then gave me a hug and walked out of my life again.
I live in a different city now and I hang out with different people, such as Alex. So, when I went to his house for a party a few years back, I was stunned to see Sadie there.
“Hey Jack! It’s been a while, how have you been?”
I explained that I was now married and had two kids. I wished I had more to say about myself, but my goals and dreams had died a few years ago when I learned of my illness. I felt like a ghost.
“I’m married with kids, and I live in the city too. I actually work with Alex.” Small world. “Would you like to meet my husband?”
“Hey,” I said to her husband, unenthusiastically, then I went back to ‘enjoying’ the party, feeling like a miserable failure at seeing (possibly imagining) Sadie’s disappointment that I had not reached my goal of being a working musician.
Looking back on that moment a few years ago, those two words that came to my head could’ve been referring to many other things, even Carol, had I known how far gone she already was.