There are plenty of songs that when I hear them, I reflect to a person, place or thing. Some memories hit harder than others. One song that hits me harder than most is "Jessie's Girl" by Rick Springfield.
Every time I hear it, I think of her. Tiffany. Or was it Stephanie? Crap! I can't remember. Oh well, for the sake of old times, I'll call her Stephanie.
Anyhow, whenever I hear that song, I think of Stephanie. A 15 year old girl about to turn sweet sixteen. I was 17 and was in the Army reserves already and was just a few weeks away from going on our two week active duty at Fort Bragg.
Stephanie and I had been messing around for several weeks leading up to this particular weekend. She lived with her parents and a brother right across the street from my oldest sister. I would go stay with her when I used to go up to Columbus for my weekend out of the month duty and that's when I met her.
I eventually transferred to a unit in Chillicothe, which was with whom I was about to do my two weeks of active duty with. Even though I no longer had to go to Columbus, didn't mean I would stop going up there. I almost always wanted to go hang out with Stephanie. We would take off together to this outdoor movie theater and watch movies from my car. We also took advantage of what the back seat offered. This particular weekend was no exception.
There was one small problem though. At least, at the time, I considered it a small problem, and that was, she also had a little thing going on with this other guy who was a few years older than me. I was determined to win her over. That's how crazy I was for her. Man, she was hot, hot, hot. That face, that hair, that sweet body. She was everything physically I ever wanted in a girl and she was really fun to be with. She was a very happy-go-lucky girl.
We went to the movies this particular Saturday night like was always did ever other weekend and we romped around in the backseat - just like we always did, when she finally broke the news to me after we climbed back into the front seat.
We had discussed the situation before many times so it did not surprise me that she would suddenly bring it up out of the blue in the manner that she did. What was surprising was what she decided. "I'm making it serious with John so this will be the last weekend for us."
"Say what? Really? But ...."
"I'm sorry Carroll. I really am. I like you. I like you a lot. But I've really fallen for John. I really want to try and make it work with him."
I tried my best to talk her out of it, including, "What are you going to tell your mom? You know she prefers me over him."
"Then you can date my mom. I choose him." She fired back quickly.
"When did you decide this?" I asked her. She turned to me and practically scooted onto my lap. "A few days ago. Carroll," she continued, "I care about you so much. Other than the sex part, you're like a brother to me."
I wanted to throw up.
"Carroll, you're going on your two week active duty soon, and then you said you were going to join the Navy when you got back. The active Navy."
"That's the plan." I stated. "But I wanted to, or maybe, I mean, I thought that maybe you and I ...."
"No." She softly spoke. "I don't want that."
The silence would have been deafening had it not been for the speaker in the car window and the movie coming over it. "I see." I whispered.
And just like that, it was time for me to move on. I quickly learned that love was a bitch. In fact, she was more than just a bitch, she is a super-bitch!
I wanted to poke my eyes out. But I took a deep breath and accepted it for what it was. I knew she had a tough choice to make and I only had a fifty-fifty shot. That's how I thought about it back then .... flash forward to about fifteen years later.
I was sitting at the kitchen table in my sisters house when a dark blue van pulled up next to the curb. My sister stood up and looked out the window at the vans direction. "Who is that?" I asked her.
My sister walked to the door and opened it up. I saw a blonde girl get out and open the yard gate, making her way towards the house. "You don't recognize her?" My sister questioned me in return. No sooner did she say that when, it all came back to me.
Stephanie walked in and said hello and handed her some money. "It's all there." She told her. "You can count it if you like."
"I trust you." My sister assured her. "Do you remember him?" She rounded out.
Stephanie took a look at me and smiled. "Yes, I remember him." Then she addressed me. "You haven't changed a bit." She told me.
"Hello, Stephanie. How you been?"
"Pretty good. I'm still with John." She informed me. I figured as much. "Really? That's so wonderful."
"I better get going." She announced, turning around and walking out saying her goodbye's.
My sister turned to me. "Now are you glad she didn't pick you?"
I slightly gasped. "Why? Just because she put on a few pounds, and cut her hair, and her face has turned into an old catcher's mitt?"
"She and John also live in that van."
"What? No shit?"
My sister shook her head. "No shit. They park at friends houses, and driveways, alleys, and even rest areas."
"All year round?" I asked.
"All year round." She answered. "Pretty much."
And just like that I breathed a huge sigh of relief. "No wonder she picked him, she wanted to be the wife of a bum."
And while I was happy all these years later that she picked him, back in the day it was devastating. But it was another lesson in 'be careful for what you wish for' kind of thing, I suppose, seeing how much she let herself go, but I also thought that maybe she wouldn't have turned out the same way if she had picked me. I mean, would we have lasted? .... Who knows? But I guess I can say that she stuck by the guy to this point so maybe she made the right choice - for her.
It turned out that shortly after she dropped out of school the following year, she lived with him in an apartment until he got fired shortly after her 18th birthday and ever since, they been living in that van and he has been going from odd job to odd job. But man, the years were not kind to her. I also heard she did a lot of dope and pills and stuff, and really, really drank a lot. So yeah, that was what she turned into, but she was with her guy and I can only hope she was still happy.
But man, back in the day, she was a beauty queen. She was awesome. She was .... Jessie's Girl!