An Apparent Grown Up Love

By Evan Gunn Wilson

It never would have seemed to be a day of drama, but here was a proof to say otherwise; and to believe otherwise would have been bliss in ignorance for boys our age.  Never had we anticipated romantic drama, especially at our eye level, but this experience would prepare us for the certain perils of later adolescence; though looking back I'd say that we handled it like a young Alexander might have when he was our age.  Strangely there is a proverbial re-occuring rock in my boot that came from all this.  To this day I cannot pin point what I was supposed to learn from the pathos that engulfed Hank, but perhaps my reader may see the moral, though the author is blind.

I dare not think what might have happened if we had ignored Hank and his undisclosed passion for the plump faced Suzy Fairenbacher.  Say if we had, Hank would have found himself moping up tears for the remainder of his life.  Suzy was just that kind of person; weep all day long for who knows what reason (probably something to do with her dad, Mr. Fairenbacher, having to go to work like he always did), and during this whole episode she would run to Hank, soak his shirt in tears and make a sniffing, blubbering mumbling that we supposed was a story of why she was crying.  But it really could have been anything; and perhaps even her plan to conquer Hank.  Hank was split at that interval.  He really liked Suzy, but really disliked her crying fits.  Hank needed someone to decide his next action for him so that he would not be held responsible.  He needed a man, or the next closest thing, a boy with no girl hanging on his shoulder.  James and myself were completely disinterested in girls and so we made the perfect candidates to turn this romance novel into an action/thriller.

The first day this all came up James and I were waiting at the bridge mindfully frustrating ourselves at the absence of Hank.  Not that this had not happened before since Hank was always late out the door; but this was just a tad peculiar since it was well into the afternoon.  This was not a bed issue, but something else was at hand.  We resolved to not ask him what it was that kept him, but rather punch him twice in the arm without warning.  We did not want a long explanation, because we wanted badly to play cowboys and indians.  And so there at the small stone bridge we waited; I sitting on the gravel up against the railing while James, on the other side, hanging half his body over the railing trying to spot a fish.  He uttered a quick "woah!" loosing his balance and regaining it, but promptly standing up and turning to look at me.  I was drawing circles with sticks, clearly bored out of my mind.

"Where's Hank?" James finally audibly pouted his thoughts.  "Beats me.  Maybe he just forgot, and then all this waiting out here would make us look darned stupid, because when Hank forgets you can consider it gone."  James walked to the end of the bridge hoping to see Hank come around the corner.  He was half eyeing some of the rocks that he could throw upon his arrival.  He stood at the end of the bridge for a minute then came back to me with a grim look on his face.  He said nothing.

Thankfully then, but perhaps regrettably now, Hank's trotting footsteps were heard coming down the old, dusty, overgrown road.  We turned our heads at a speed that would have broken a sparrow's neck.  James said to me under his breath, "Hank runs like a girl".  I laughed, only because he deserved it; not because it was true.  We were now going to revel in the moment of punishing an injustice; kind of like parents do when they spank you.  We were going to treat it like no big deal then, out of nowhere, let his shoulders have it.  But to our confusion Hank came to us with his hands in a flat stopping sign.  He begged us to stop and listen to him.  At this point we were concerned he may have come armed to avoid our discipline, but it ended up worse.

Hank finally regained his breath and said, "I am not here to apologize or play cowboys and indians.  There are somethings that may be more important than that."

James quickly came back with resentment in his voice, "Oh, I'm sure!  You don't have any school when it is summer!"  I braced myself for news that I knew I would not like; James suffered a bit more from shock.

"I am in love!  And better yet, I have a girlfriend!"  The happiness that had overtaken Hank seemed to be chemically induced, so I kept a semblance of doubt.  James stood staring at Hank in amazement, slack jawed and squinting his eyes to decipher his new reality.  I decided to investigate our potentially insane friend.

"Hank what do you mean you have a girlfriend?"  A question I cleverly devised, hoping he meant something other than the obvious.  "I mean, what would drive you to do such a thing?"

"Oh, if only you knew how it felt to have a girl like you.  But I don't have to give any explanation, other than how it happened.  You guys don't understand women, so they wont ever try to understand you."  James still stood blank faced trying to wrap his head around it all.

Continuing the conversation I said, "Ok, so how'd it happen.  It was probably all against your will right?  Something that the grown-ups made ya' do?"

"No, no, no!  For maybe about two weeks I've been thinking about askin' her if she liked me back.  Today I finally did and she said that she did!"

If I knew then what I know now, I would have restrained Hank and punched him for being so stupid until he snapped out of it.  Instead I said, "Gosh, it all sounds pretty serious, Hank.  I didn't know you were the type that liked girls.  But now that I do know, does it mean you'll never play again with us?  I mean with all that responsibility . . . . . ."

"Oh we will still be able to play, but just not as often.  I gotta divide up my time between you guys and Suzy."

"Suzy?  Suzy Fairenbacher?"  The first red light reared it's radioactive glowing head.  I did not want to touch it, but it must be dealt with.  As nonchalant as possible I said,  "Suzy, eh?  Kind of an odd girl, don't you think?"  "What do ya' mean?" Hank said with suspicion at my agenda.  "Well, I mean out of all the normal girls out there you chose . . . ."

Before I could finish Hank already had me by the collar of my shirt.  "Nothing is wrong with Suzy!"  He exclaimed with apparent doubt.  James mind was hardly present.

"absolutely!", I caved.  "What is wrong with Suzy?  I mean look at her!"  I later prayed to God to forgive me for not standing up for what I believe in during persecution: that Suzy is insane.

"That's more like it.  Listen, I don't want to here your guys opinion about it; like I said before, you wouldn't understand.  If you don't like it then you don't have to be around it.  Ok!"

"Yeah, ok."  I was lying.


Hank left in a hurry.  He realized how long he had been gone and mumbled speedily something about being late.  It was then that I knew Hank was setting himself up for disaster.  He knew it as well as anyone else that Suzy was emotionally unpredictable, or as we called it "crazy".  But something grappled Hank like a fly around a non suspecting yellow strip of paper hanging from the ceiling.  "Seems good to me!", his subconscious probably said.  "No potential harm to be done here.  It must be a win-win."  I could not let a friend live in that stupidity!  So I turned back to James; he was again leaning over the bridge railing pretending to not know what just happened.  "James!"  I said to grab his attention.

"What?  Oh, so are we gonna play cowboys and indians or what?"  He so desperately wanted to ignore it all and go on living.  I pitied him, but I knew he had to come to terms with it.

"James.  Don't act like you don't know that our friend is making the biggest mistake of his life.  You know as well as I do that if we don't knock some sense into Hank then we could say good bye to him forever.  We can't play cowboys and indians now."  James, with his hands deep in his pockets consented, "Yeah, I know.  It's just kind of like crying y' know?  It wont fix anything, but boy does it feel good."

We went on the trail back home practically throwing a perfectly good summer day away.  James did not say anything else since we were both in very low spirits.  This could either turn out positively, or very, very negatively.  We were not necessarily against love, but for us at that age to be drenched in it by one of the most troublesome girls, no doubt there would be contention.  He could have fallen for any of the girls; most of them we had no problem with and sometimes we played with them on Sundays.  But then the question arises: What did Suzy do to take our good friend from us?  What did she say?  It must have been a lie.  It is only now that I realize how she got him.  Hank was a sucker.

Hank was a sucker, but women work quickly; they perform their death grip as soon as the man's devotion is ripe.  They say something to the degree of, "If ever you choose anything over me, I shall never love you again!"  As soon as they get him to agree to their over bearing un-warranted demand, he is permanently trapped with no chance for escape.  But a more dire, altruistic loss we would lose a friend (who enjoyed being the indian when no one else did).

A plan had to be made.  This was no place to win on the defensive.  They could not even know that mentally James and I declared war.  But girls are full of surprises and when you think you have the upper hand they like perhaps in this case, explode in tears and bring up something that happened six months ago.  I speak from adult experience.  What were we to do?  James suggested that we throw rocks at them (bless him) since that was his remedy for everything.  But despite his good intentions, I knew that this was a delicate matter and required some strategy.

Despairingly, we were at a stand still in our thought.  We had reached the opening of the road from the forest and sat in the grass thoughtless.  Hope seemed dumb.  Even though men are physically stronger than women, we still need our brains to use them.  Women have learned how to shut down a mans brain with a few simple words and he lay at her command.  And how are we to counteract that?  If we had any luck in convincing Hank it would just become a game of tug o' war.  We needed to attack at a different angle.  But what other angles were there!  That is when I sprung up from a prone position with light bulb and all.  Suzy was our angle.  All we had to do was to convince her not to like (if she really did) Hank anymore.  Then came the brain storming.

"We could make it look like Hank was throwing rocks at her."  James said in utter excitement for providing input.

"The plan looks good on paper, but I can't even begin to think how we would go about doing it.  We need something simpler."  But I fantasized about throwing rocks at Suzy for a moment or two.

"We could forge a letter with Hanks signature telling her he's breaking up with her."  James said less excited, but this time using a bit more brain power.

"No, I bet she already recognizes his hand writing.  A girl's memory will store the most inconvenient things for a man to deal with."  There was a five minute silence.  But soon enough I devised the perfect plan.  We were decided that we would write a letter from a "secret admirer" to Suzy to get her thinking about this non-existent character (or loser was or still is my personal opinion) rather than Hank.  And better yet all men would be freed from Suzie's death grip, as long as she kept on believing in this secret admirer.  This would be a tremendous deed for all of mankind.  It was so simple; how knowledgeable of the world I was!  Even in elementary years when a boy is turning a singular cog wheel as hard and fast as he can, I knew from there I was a problem solver.  Sadly, I was turning two cog wheels for a problem that required five; and I did not gird my loins for what was to come.  So we settled that James would write the letter and I would deliver it after dinner.  It was full proof and nothing could stop us from getting Hank back now.  We had already made plans for how many times we would punch him in the shoulders.


Four days had passed and we were all back at the bridge.  Hank revealed to us the day before that Suzy said she discovered there more options for her, hence our letter.  Supposedly she told him this from her bedroom window, she mentioned the letter and all.  Imagine, had Juliet done that to Romeo.  What if Juliet found a man that was not at odds with her family; there would certainly be a lot of avoided deaths.  But I think that Hank handled it better than Romeo would have.  He was sorry for maybe an hour and as soon he started playing cowboys and indians he realized how insufferable Suzy was.  We only administered our discipline after Hank had calloused from the "drama".  We were home free.

What came after would be enough experience for me to handle girls for the rest of my life.  The wisdom attained then would pester me to select the correct time to talk to a women.  We were on to a new game, playing "commie killers" had much more gratification, since it was in fashion to despise communists than indians.  I came away with much learning in my ventures to dispose of the communist regime; like how to knock the air out of your enemy with a trip wired, spring loaded branch.  Though, today commies were the least of my worries.  I heard the faint call of James name coming from the east.  I mentioned to him that his mom was calling.  He denied that she did.  His denial was right; he knew the sound of his mom's voice too well to mistake about it.  "Well then who in the world would be calling for you?  Were all here.  It might be Chuck; if it is lets hide from him so we can surprise him and subdue that commie jerk."

There was a resounding "hurrah" at this plan, so we jumped in the bushes and hid from our victim.  But as I listened to the calling of James, I felt that it grew more distinct.  It became shriller, colder and eerily savage.  Out from the bend and into the opening came little Miss Fairenbacher; her summer dress cleaned and ironed did not speak to me as civility, but as a snare for the fools.

"James!", cried the banshee.  I had it with this women.  I was going to tell her to leave us alone for good.  The problem solver did not know what he was in for.

"Get out of here Suzy!  Hank doesn't care for girls anymore, and the rest of us certainly don't wanna play with you.  Go find your secret admirer!"  I said this with little regard to the deceived little girl.

"Where's James?", she honestly inquired.  For a moment I was frozen.  Her question as to where James was not in tune with the order of the cosmos.  Something here was indefinitely wrong; but what it was for the life of me I could not figure out. 

Then James stepped out of the bushes with Hank emerging behind him.  An air of innocent confusion wrapped around him as he spoke to me, "So should we throw rocks at her?"

Then Suzy rushed him and clung to his arm with appeased desperation.  "Oh, James!  I figured out it was you who wrote that letter just today, and I can very well understand why you did such a thing!  I am very intimidating and all the boys find me hard to approach; and so I forgive you and accept you."

"Guys!"  James moaned in fear.  He started trying to swing her of his arm, but it is that death grip that girls like her use to make the man the underdog.  When he finally got her off he stepped back next to Hank and I stood on the other side of her.

"James.  Why would you do such a silly thing?"  Was she really that stupid, or really that smart.  We knew not, but a new plan had to be made if we wanted to relinquish ourselves of Miss Fairenbacher.  My mind raced with ideas; But I, the smart one, could not decided nonetheless come up with anything.  She began to chase James around in a circle; Hank and myself were foiled.  This kind of experience was of a different order that we had never accounted for.

Maybe by the fifth lap the traumatized James and crazed Suzy completed a remarkable thing happened.  James bent over picked up a rock and cocked his arm back at Suzy.  It became a stand off - tens seconds worth.  But for those ten seconds we all knew what was about to happen.  Everyone was stopped dead waiting for the climax.

I cannot remember what happened from there, because I have no image of it in my memory banks.  Perhaps it is for the better if I consider myself a well adjusted man.  Factually, I do know what happened.  Suzy ran home crying with a a cut on her forehead.  Hank and Myself congratulated James on a spectacular plan and played five minutes worth victory game of "Commie Killers", before we were nabbed by our parents when they received the report for what was inevitably going to happen sooner or later.  We were all grounded and had extra chore duty.

I cannot say whose actions it was that were just and whose were unjust; but I am sure they were all done with much reasoning and sense.  The closest I have ever come to a moral regarding this story is as follows:  In dealing with women trickery is a useless tool, as they have mastered better than any man could hope for.  But it is our strength that is the reason men rule the world.