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Bob Hyman

I knew she was everything I wanted ... and everything I could never have.

We were as different as night and day. I guess that's why I was so attracted to her in the first place. Outgoing and bubbly, Judy seemed to forever be the center of attention among her bevy of girlfriends. At school the boys would gather around her like moths attracted to a candle flame, hoping - beyond all hope - that she might acknowledge their presence with a smile. I knew that she was out of reach for someone as quiet and reserved as me. Still, I couldn't resist the temptation to at least dream of the possibilities.

Most of us looked forward to spending every Friday evening roller skating at the local Roll-a-drome. I generally hung out with my pals. We would ignore the girls for the most part, chasing each other around the floor during the all-skate segments and conveniently disappearing to the snack area or rest room during the couples and trio numbers. There was never a chance of rejection if you didn't ask in the first place.

It had taken me quite a while to get up the nerve to ask her to skate a couples-only song. I couldn't believe it when she actually consented. The other guys could only watch in amazement as I spent three heavenly minutes gliding around the floor with her on my arm. It was definitely the high point of my eighth grade year. I don't think I said a word to her the entire time we were skating.

Most of us generally left the rink together at closing time. At every intersection, the group would diminish in size as individuals headed to their respective homes. That night, I conveniently skipped the turn down my street and tagged along until eventually, it was just the two of us.

"I didn't know you lived around here," she said coyly.

I knew that she knew better. I stammered and stuttered, coming up with some lame excuse about going over to a friend's house to drop off a skate key I had borrowed.

"It's okay," she replied. "Thanks for walking me home."

I sensed that maybe she actually meant it. By the time we got to her place, I knew more about her than I could have imagined. It turned out that few guys had ever actually talked to her. Most were probably just like me - too scared or insecure to even try.

She wasn't anything like I had expected. We stood on her front porch laughing about how people could be so very different once you got to know them. She told me she had thought I was conceited because I had never spoken to her before. I told her how much I had wanted to talk to her, but never could come up with the right excuse. All too soon, her mother opened the door and told her it was time to come inside.

Judy introduced me to her mother and told her she would be in quickly. After she closed the door, Judy explained that the two of them lived there alone and that her mother was a little bit over-protective. I hadn't realized that she didn't have a father. I was just about to ask if we could skate together again the following week when she said, "I wish I had gotten to know you sooner. It's a shame we're moving next week."

At first I thought she was kidding. Then, I feared she had only built up my hopes just to play a cruel joke. But I could tell she was serious. She was moving. It was only across town, but to a fourteen year old it might as well have been to a foreign country. She gave me a quick peck on the cheek as a token of appreciation. I watched in numbed silence as she headed inside.

"Thanks for skating with me," she said from the doorway with a tear in her eye. "I wish it could have worked out differently."

"Me too," I thought as I walked down the street, disgusted with myself for getting my hopes up in the first place. But still, she had kissed me ... even if was only on the cheek.

I do recall seeing her once during my high school years. Our schools were hated cross-town rivals. They met my senior year in the city championship football game. I remember watching her march on the field with the drill team during the half-time ceremony. She twirled the baton around those slender fingers just as expertly as she had once done with my heart.

I was in college when my friend Jerry begged a favor. He had just met some beautiful gal named Pam and was dying to date her. The only problem was that she had a best friend that she insisted come along on a double-date. And of course - me being his best friend and all - who else could he ask? At first I refused outright, not even wanting to know the details. But then he explained that the friend was really quite a catch.

Still, I was hesitant. "What does she look like?" I asked. I had been burnt before on blind dates. At least he didn't say that she had a nice personality. He knew that would have been the kiss of death, ending the conversation immediately. Not that I have anything against nice personalities, mind you. It's just that it's not what you want to hear when you ask what someone looks like.

"Actually, I've never met her, but Pam says she is gorgeous," he answered.

Now I was really concerned. Common sense told me that two good looking girls never hung out together. Still, I was considering granting his plea when he added, "Besides, they're related. I think she is Pam's niece."

"Niece ..." I asked, "did you say niece? You've got to be kidding! You want me to baby-sit the niece just so you can make time with the Aunt?"

"No, no," he corrected. "They're the same age - honest!"

I couldn't figure out if he was being totally sincere or not but the desperation in his voice was getting to me. In a moment of weakness I caved in. "Okay," I agreed, "But you better be right about her being gorgeous. And, don't forget - you owe me one!"

The evening of the date, we drove to Pam's house in Jerry's old Nash Rambler. I was still trying to think up a plausible excuse for backing out even as we parked and walked up to the doorway. When Pam opened the door I could understand why Jerry was so adamant about going out with her - she was a knockout! I could only hope the niece was half as nice. Pam invited us in and introduced us to her niece; it was Judy.

I recognized her immediately; I could tell she had no idea who I was. "Bob," I blurted out, "From the skating rink ... eighth grade ... Norwood Park Junior High." Surely she would remember the night I walked her home.

"I'm sorry," she said sheepishly. "That was so long ago. I had forgotten all about roller skating."

That night we started to get to know each other all over again. She wasn't quite what I remembered. No longer a cute little girl, she was now a beautiful young woman. Still bubbly and outgoing, she now had a sophisticated sexiness about her that made me a little weak in the knees. I wasn't sure if it was from desire or fear - maybe a little of both. In any case, we hit it off pretty well.

She made it clear, right from the beginning, that she was going steady with a former high school classmate. He had joined the Navy right after graduation. They weren't actually engaged, but she told me they would probably end up getting married. She was only doing this double-date thing as a favor to Pam. I told her I understood perfectly, and that I too was only doing this as a favor for Jerry.

Within a few weeks, we were dating each other exclusively. I don't know if she ever wrote the old boyfriend or not to officially end their relationship. I probably should have noted that as a potential warning sign, but I was too head-over-heels to notice anything.

I think her mother liked me even more than Judy did; she always cooked my favorite dishes whenever Judy would invite me over for dinner. She would say to Judy, "This one's a keeper." I was never quite sure if that was a compliment for me or a slap at all the others who had come before me.

Judy and I went steady while I finished college. My senior year, I spent all my savings to buy her a new sewing machine as a special Christmas present. Her mother was flabbergasted. "You're so different," she said. "All the other boys buy her flowers and candy and jewelry; you buy her a sewing machine!"

"But it was what she wanted," I explained.

"That's the problem," her mother told me. "She always gets whatever she wants."

So, she was a little spoiled ... what was the matter with that? A girl like her deserved to be spoiled. And spoil her I did. I kept chasing her right up till the day she caught me. By then, I was in the service. Jerry and Pam served as Best Man and Maid of Honor at our wedding.

We were happy at first - at least I was. I think she was a little disappointed at being a young military wife. So far from home ... one Air Force base after another. In time, they all started to look alike to her. I kept telling her that it was only temporary. But it only seemed to worsen over time.

It didn't help that there was a war going on ... that I was away often on temporary duty assignments. Being left alone was something she hated more than anything else. She wanted to start a family. Within two years the first daughter was born. For once, we had something in common. Her life began to have a purpose. Two years later ... a second daughter. If one had been a turning point, two would make things twice as good. Right?

I guess we made a slight miscalculation somewhere along the way. The girls - even though we loved them more than anything - were not enough to save our troubled marriage. They only forestalled the inevitable. Growing further apart rather than closer together, we eventually realized that our relationship had been doomed from the beginning. Based solely on our selfish desires, each of us had sought out the other to experience something new and different - to find something we lacked within ourselves. To her, I represented the stability she had craved in her childhood; she in turn provided the raw sensuality I had always dreamed about.

Her mother's untimely death in a car accident was the final straw. Judy was never quite the same after her mother died. She needed a change; she wanted a change. And, as I had come to learn the hard way, she always got what she wanted. Little Jennifer was only three the day Judy walked out for good. She gave me a kiss on the cheek before she left. "Thanks for skating with me," she said from the doorway with a tear in her eye. "I wish it could have worked out differently."

I knew she was everything I wanted ... and everything I could never have.

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