“The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men,
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!” – Scottish Poet, Robert Burns
“You always hurt the one you love
The one you shouldn’t hurt at all
You always take the sweetest rose
And crush it till the petals fall” – Songwriter Alan Roberts, Sung by Peggy Lee
So there was the impasse. She didn’t want to leave. She didn’t want to leave ME.
As we walked together after that moment, she couldn’t imagine life without my irregular notes in her door, or the awkward silences as we both danced around our feelings all of those wasted years. I couldn’t imagine the nights not spent talking on the phone as the lightning roared and the heavens thundered. Just the way she would grin silently as classical played on into the air, or the scent of her hair. So many things I realized I would miss.
The following day, I secretly skipped class and went to talk to her mom. She had long known about our almost secret relationship, and was always encouraging me to take it to the next step. In her eyes, her daughter had a boy who truly cared for her, was kind, considerate and sincere, but more importantly, one who cared enough for her girl to give up his world. And I did, so the plans proceeded.
I made myself less available day after day, and the notes became shorter and shorter. Comments on life and love, spirit and music on the page evolved into simple gossip and banter about my “brothers”, inane school events and complaints about the Quebec government. I tried to portray a callous, unfeeling Terry who was unworthy of anyone. I ceased to walk over to meet her in the mornings, and would “forget” about our rare special evenings in exchange for nights of popcorn and movies alone or with my best friends. The campaign, I knew would be long and hard, and I was going insane in thought. My spies in her midst, her mother and father would continue to argue and rant on their end to ensure her departure and feed me information. It wasn’t very successful, as she saw through the whole ploy with laser like accuracy. Worse, she tracked me down at my favorite McDonald’s (well, yes, I wasn’t much of a foodie admittedly back then), sat down, told me to quit it, and kissed me on the cheek.
Time was running short, and I really didn’t know what else I could do. The problem with having written hundreds of pages of my feelings and thoughts to her, is that she knew me fundamentally deeper than any person alive. Deadlines on events that deal with life situations weren’t really something I was particularly good at, especially when considering it was with one who loved me so well. So I went back to her parents and we talked one more time. In the end, we all agreed, there was only one action left to do… and it’s one that has always scarred and shamed me in so many ways.
The day we broke up was not a particularly exceptional day, but it’s one I will always recall. For those who know me, I have cherished in my heart the code of Chivalry and the pursuit of knightly honor to be my most highest belief. In fact, that dedication was always greater than what I once believed as an evangelized youth, my comic books, movies and geekdom highlights. As the days counted down to the final cut off to accepting the scholarship came close, all I could think was acts of desperation. My sweet girl had it in her mind that she wasn’t leaving and was just going to wait and work a bit until a time would come when we both could leave and excel. But in the meantime, the days had become a monotonous routine, where we would meet, then argue about the lack of time left, then kiss, then allow her to enrapture me with the joy of her presence and then argue again, and then have her remind me that I’ll be forced to quit it pretty soon so I might as well stop there and then, and the day would progress as it would. This time, I added a few more factors… the presence of her parents and a deliberate dedication to be ugly, to be angry and to be evil in the basest manner possible.
I won’t go through the full details, but the ambush was successful in raising the tension. Voices were loud and angry as we were pleading and begging, and then (and with prior secret approval) accusations about me would be made and so much more. But in the end, as it all came to a head, I did the one thing I didn’t want to do but realized was the only thing I could do to turn her passion away… I raised my hand, and in front of her family, shoved her hard onto the floor and started the first move to a follow up action. Her mother knew I might had to do that. Her father didn’t… and with that shove, the air in the room stood still.
I was thrown out by her dad, and justly so. He didn’t punch me, but I honestly hoped he would. Since growing out of elementary, I had never raised a hand in anger against a woman ever, and I couldn’t believe I actually did. She looked out at me from her living room window, stunned, and angry. She was always strong willed, but with that one act, I shattered every image and belief she had in me. And as dearly as I wanted to run back in to hold her, to apologize and beg forgiveness, the anger of her father had put an end to that.
She called. I didn’t answer. I wrote no notes. I never walked with her again. Camelot had fallen, and to free her, I shattered both our hearts. And in those months to come, we had no more contact no matter how much we both wanted it.
Here is where fate decided to give me a good s***kicking for my audacity to strike a woman. In those months, I got word from her mom about how depressed she was, and how all our efforts might go to naught if she dropped out instead. I had done my job too well. But to tell her that I attacked her to force her to go to school and it was orchestrated?? I foresaw a pretty angry woman getting off a plane, and then throttling her family, and then me. So what to do, what to do … when inspiration hit. Maybe if I had a friend show her around, cheer her up, maybe she’ll improve and I even knew who to befriend her. He was an old friend of mine from childhood, who moved to that city long ago but we still kept in touch. Friendly, outgoing, emphatic and simply a nice guy, I asked him to see if he could look her up and gave him the full story on the event that drove her off so he had some reference. That wasn’t a great idea in hindsight.
Months more went by, and as the days passed, while I missed the regular notes and her presence, I still did my best to go on. The first summer was the hardest or so I thought. When lightning struck, I looked up and closed my eyes trying to imagine her near me, letting the sound of thunder rumble through my body. I still wrote, but this time it was notes to no one. And as the notes piled, the amount slowed down to a smaller flow, and then a trickle, and then none.
It was in August that I got a call. My buddy who I had asked to keep an eye on her was in town. Considering that I really owed him one, I wanted to hear everything, but more importantly, offer some payback for a favour I never could really ever repay… or so I thought. So feeling nostalgic, guilty and 100s of other feelings, I met him at le Biftheque for a good ol’ fashion steak dinner.
I always loved that restaurant. The old classic wood and barn look that hasn’t changed in decades. The dim lighting and the chuckwagon red and white table clothes. The fresh bread baking all the time, filling the rooms with the scent of utter joy and pleasure. And most importantly, the booths, where I walked over to meet him… and HER. My sins had come to roost.
Awkward really doesn’t even begin to explain the next few hours. I was stunned, guilty, lovelorn, angry, sad, and probably everything else you could expect. Honestly, if I had the chance to put my fist through the wall, I probably would have gladly.
As the evening progressed, I barely heard anything they were telling me to bring me up to speed. Eating was probably the last thing on my mind, but I focused as best I could to ignore the banter… until the last few words. While he was keeping her company to cheer her up, they fell in love. And with me as a lesson for the follies of not making a final decision, they decided to get married as soon as possible and flew back to Montreal to ask for my permission.
You know, they say the road to hell is paved in good intentions? It definately is. In my “good-ness”, I was the architect of this Titanic, but now looking desperately for that chunk of ice on the horizon to put me out of my misery. And on they talked, and explained, and then came the special request, an iceberg worthy of this ocean of hell.
“Terry, we want you to be the BEST MAN.”
End of Part Two.