Friday night time travel

Every few months I go back in time.

When I drive West on 78, North on 33, West on 80, etc. as I head closer to my hometown, I sense that I am traveling in time. The radio gradually goes from NPR news programs, to NJ traffic reports, to 80s music, to my hometown station that I have been listening to since I was a kid, 94Rock.

Friday night I spent the evening with some of the most important people of my past: my high school girlfriends, plus Steve. Steve isn't a girlfriend, but only because he isn't a girl. Like it or not (and I think he likes it) he is part of our little girl friend clique. He hung with us senior year of high school, but marrying MC sealed his fate as "one of us". This time he was really lucky, there were two other men there, but often he is the only guy when we gather. We had a BBQ and caught up while 12 kids ran around, played with the dogs and lost a flip flop in the river. Steve also acted as Grill Meister and puppy police! After dinner Steve and B's teenage daughter VO babysat 8 kids so the rest of us girls (plus two dates) could go out on the town.

Normally when we go out I put on makeup, use contact lenses and put handfuls of gel in my hair to tone down the frizzy curls. On Friday I put on a little lipstick and walked out the door with low expectations.

So of course we run into HIM! Everyone has one (well, everyone should): the upper classman who you just couldn't have no matter how strong the crush. Picture the unpopular, frizzy-haired, glasses wearing geekie freshman obsessed with a talented junior. It wasn't even a secret. It seems everyone in my high school knew. He had a great voice and was pretty popular even though he wasn't "classicly good looking" (his best friend DP was). Kids teased me when we held hands for seconds during corny dance scenes in practice for Lil' Abner (he played the lead, Marrying Sam, his "classic looks" BFF played Abner). At the end of the year when the Concert Choir sang "We Are the World", LM hammed it up as he covered Springsteen's contribution and I was in awe. When there were auditions for Godspell the following year, it was no contest. Of course LM played Jesus (his gorgeous BFF was in Australia). I was in the chorus. By then it was clear I would never date LM, and I had accepted that fate over time. Nonetheless he was always nice to me, even though he dated several of my close friends. We didn't exactly run in the same crowds, but we certainly had mutual friends. He was neighbors with two very important people in my life (including Steve), and he lived two blocks from my Grandma, we were in ski club together and bumped into each other pretty often.

But we never dated.

Anyway, we're in this crowded bar dancing ourselves silly. It was already a good sign when I flew onto the dance floor for "Living on a Prayer". Then some guy came over, greeted us and said to me, "You don't recognize me?"

Nix. But by the shocked look on his face, I realized I really should know him pretty well. An OH-MY-GOD a split second later, it was indeed my high school crush.

Later one of my friends, LK, said "this is awkward"! I thought she was talking about me. Turns out, she was talking about herself. She and I had a falling out many years ago. I couldn't remember why. But now I do. She dated LM, knowing full well I was crazy for him. She wasn't the only friend who did this, but she was my closest. I sort of remember her saying something like since he wasn't going to date me, she wasn't really taking him.

Thankfully, it's all water under the bridge now.

I didn't find it awkward at all! Maybe I should have recognized him, but seeing him was fun. The best part was he was even happier to see us! He blew off his friends and danced with us until we closed the bar. Had the tables been reversed, I would have stayed with my friends.

I have to admit that I'm a bit smug that I didn't recognize him. After all the tears and crushing of my self-esteem (guess that's why they call it a crush), I've come out unscathed. It only took 20+ years to figure it out.

My friends told the singer that we were out celebrating my birthday (We were??? It was 3 weeks ago!) and the whole bar sang happy birthday! I even requested the final song. The final song he played? Click here... A perfect ending to a great night!

The band played almost only 80s music. A bit of the 1980s has lived on in my hometown! Nonetheless, time has marched on. I am clearly over the boy I never thought I would forget. Progress I didn't know I had made. :-) I'm already looking forward to the next trip home. Wonder who I'll run into next time? My favorite teacher from elementary school? An old neighbor? One of my Mom's friends? The options are nearly endless.


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