Words Written on Pages
Pink lid guy... what? I can’t give them all masculine colored lids. A girl’s got to color co-ordinate. Pink lid guy lives in a dorm full of Utah Utes fans. I am a BYU fan by association to Ryan, therefore it was my duty to taunt them. The taunting didn’t seem to bother them, quite the opposite in fact. I wonder how Ryan would feel knowing he’s given me flirting ammunition.
Pink lid guy is blond haired, blue eyed and a little rough around the edges. He almost always wears a baseball cap. We went to church together once, and he cleaned up great, in a stylish dress shirt and tie, but even then you could tell he wasn’t in his natural state. When I hang out at their place with him and his friends, I feel like I’m doing something just a little bit shady. Maybe it’s that I’m away from home with no parental supervision as a safety net or maybe it’s that these guys ooze “playerhood” and I’m afraid I’m out of my cockpit of control. Whenever I’m here, I can practically hear my conscience screaming “Mayday! Mayday!”
Pink lid guy is sitting next to me in the dorm’s common room on a couch that is so ugly I doubt it’s ever even seen better days, different shades of scratchy brown yarn woven around each other, intermingled with bits of college boy grime. His roommates and friends are teasing him about me openly. He vaguely enjoys their banter, but focuses lazy eyes on me… feeding me lines with a practiced sincerity that I’m sure has worked marvelously in the past. It’s with an astounding amount of contrived embarrassment that he manages to both hesitantly and determinedly admit to me that he writes a little poetry. “Nooo,” I say, playing my part in this little skit, saying a word that slews of girls have said before me, and they probably said it with true enthusiasm. To be honest though, I’m starting to believe that I can’t be with a boy poet. I’m the emotional poet in my relationships, and I can’t imagine there being room for more than one.
“I could… show you one of my poems… if you want,” he offers.
“I’d love that!” I say, and I am very curious what sort of poems pour out of that baseball cap clad brain.
“Come with me,” he says, “It’s upstairs. I wrote it in my friends’ yearbook.”
“Upstairs?” I say. Mayday. Mayday. “You mean, upstairs where the bedrooms are?”
He looks at me like I’m a little girl, speaking little girl talk that’s hard to understand.
“Come on,” he says.
I follow him, but I linger in a small kitchen area while he goes to rifle through old yearbooks. I stare, riveted, at the monopoly game board that’s hanging on the wall. The boys have acquired it from McDonald’s, and are doing an admirable job of filling it with the game pieces that they accumulate by eating there. He comes out and places the book in front of me on the kitchen table, saying, “I mean, I don’t know if it’s any good, but it made a lot of people laugh and it kind of became famous around my school.”
Now I’m more interested. A poem that made people laugh? This I can see genuinely coming from the attractive boy in the baseball cap. I read the poem, scrawled next to a humorous sketch of a cow in a field. The poem is written in the words of the cow, and it makes me laugh out loud. I’m thoroughly impressed. I see a new dimension to pink lid guy, and I praise him appropriately for his cleverness.
Before long, snow falls over the campus and it’s time to go home for Christmas break. I wonder what life is like for a missionary at Christmas time. I wonder what presents I should get for all of the people on my list. I wonder why I’m still seeing pink lid guy when the truth is, he makes me uneasy. I know he isn’t right for me, but I’m the worst at ending relationships. The very worst. I can’t instigate a non-happy ending! It goes against everything I stand for.
Being home is so welcome, my memories of it are all sunny and warm, even the ones at Christmastime, for some reason. Beautiful, comfortable, warm, sunny home. Thank you Mom and Dad, for giving me a place like this. I’m lying on my stomach on the living room floor. (I would never lie on the floor at college. Ewww. The years’ worth of nobody knows what that’s gone on atop that college apartment carpet.) Next to me there is a stack of comics, straight from the weekly newspapers. My Uncle Devear and Aunt Virginia like to save them for us and give them to us in stacks. They like to do little things for us kids, little thoughtful things that they hope we’ll enjoy.
I like to peruse the comics and cut out my favorites to send to Ryan. We don’t often write of our feelings, a rare paragraph here and there. A good chuckle is about the best thing I can send him across the miles.
It’s Christmas Day and I’ve found a new way of driving my family crazy. About every fifteen minutes I say, “Just think, Ryan could be on the phone with his family right now!” Then they all moan and wish, like I do, that I was at your house talking to you too. Two years ago yesterday, you sang my song for me, the one that you wrote about me. Remember? And last year I wasn’t speaking to you at Christmastime.
Thank you for the Christmas package. I sleep on the blanket every night, and I look at the pictures of you too much. Sometimes I let my mind wander and think of us in the future. It really does make me happy to think about that. I hope you like the ring I sent. I wore it for a day or two to warm it up for you. I like that it says, “Best Friends Forever” because I believe that’s what we are. Remember when you said that someday I would feel sorry about how I treated you? Well, I really do. It makes me sick to even think about it. I hope you don’t still think about it, because I truly am sorry.
How is it that Ryan is still making all of the other boys look bad? Even with just words on a page? Even with just those rare paragraphs every couple of letters, where he tells me that he thinks of me “too much”. I guess it’s because something inside me is telling me that they aren’t just words. They’re truth, and truth is powerful.
So I try to send truth back without distracting a missionary from his work, and I try to entertain him with a little humor. Some of my favorite comics are the Far Side comics with their laugh out loud observations about life. As I flip through the big, awkward pages of the newspaper comics, I suddenly see one that sends me springing from my relaxed position on my stomach to my knees, my chin jumping out of its restful place on my hands and jutting forward for a closer look.
I see a caricature of a cow, standing upright on his hind legs in front of an audience of other cows, a word bubble coming from his mouth. What, you might ask, is the cow saying? He’s reading a poem, a very funny poem. A very familiar poem... one I read in a yearbook recently. And last I checked, Pink Lid guy doesn’t write the Far Side comics.
Pink lid guy just instigated a non-happy ending, so that I don’t have to.
It’s a blustery night, my first one back at college after Christmas break. Pink lid guy called and asked me to come over. My hands are stuffed in my pockets, along with a small, square comic, cut from a newspaper, as I walk into the common room of his dorm. I ask him to sit on the couch, the boy-germ infested one, and I pull out the comic. I hand it to him and wait quietly while he reads it. He must wonder at his bad luck that I would stumble upon his fib and forgery just a couple of weeks after he had delivered it to my impressionable mind. “You lied to me,” I say. “You didn’t write the poem.” How can one respond when confronted with a lie that is so blatant, it’s published in a newspaper? You can hum and haw, you can even claim that Gary Larson must have stolen the idea from your high school yearbook. If the girl who’s accusing you is heart-broken and scorned, it could get pretty messy, but I’m kind. Because the truth is, this isn’t the reason I won’t be seeing him anymore. He’s a good guy… for someone else. I hope his future involves being happily married to a stunningly beautiful and agreeably, gullible girl. He’s going to write her poetry. Words like, “Near…far… wherever you are, I believe that my heart will go on.” She is going to blissfully pretend that the poem wasn’t stolen from the theme song of the movie Titanic. I wish them well.