I grew up in a mostly homogeneous community except for a clear dividing line between one side of a wide main street, with narrow houses and small front gardens, and the other side with large three-storey homes, broad front lawns, and backyards with large patios.
I didn’t pay attention to these economic and lifestyle differences, as my own life with my parents and one sibling was adequate.
Things changed when a boy in our graduating high-school class asked me to go for a drive with him, after classes. I did, and he seemed very sweet. After getting a snack together and eating it in the car, he drove by his house to show me where he lived. The house looked huge to me.
After that, he’d regularly take me for something to eat after school, then drive around awhile, and eventually we’d end up parked somewhere and he’d be eager to kiss me and try to get closer. I was flattered, but at 17 then - having skipped a grade - I was definitely not ready to go any further. And he never got angry or pushed me.
Now, years later in my early 40s, and separated from my children’s father, I have occasionally bumped into this former classmate at events, movies or restaurants.
When this happens, the guy I once knew can barely say “Hi,” and his wife walks away as quickly as she can. I find it weird that he seems so uncomfortable, as if we were a committed couple for some time. We were not. Instead, we were just high school classmates who didn’t do anything wrong or embarrassing.
Why do you suppose both he and his wife are so uncomfortable years later, when we’re all parents of children, and have nothing for which to be ashamed?
We cannot always know what others have been told, whether through high-school gossipers in the past who possibly made up salacious but untrue stories, or your former classmate’s wife being a jealous sort, or believing there must’ve been “more” going on... etc.
You’ll likely never know the background of the couple’s discomfort, but life experience tells me that somewhere along the way, there was ill-intentioned gossip.
Try to ignore any discomfort if you bump into the man or the couple again. You know your truth. Besides, it doesn’t matter these 24-plus years later. You’re an adult, a parent and someone who’s been married in the past. Your future is open as to any relationship(s) you may choose.
The possibilities ahead are what matter now.
Dear Readers - In a recent column, the wife of a man upset by his increasing hair loss, finds it difficult to empathize with him (May 13):
Today’s responses include men who’ve experienced similar “male pattern baldness” as measured by specialist physicians. But thinning hair and visual areas of scalp are also experienced by women.
Here are some readers’ responses:
Reader #1 – “Start wearing a hat immediately and everywhere. Beware of sunburn. Or just shave everything off and embrace this change.”
Reader #2 – “The wife must realize that she cannot help and the husband needs to understand how great it is to sport the Mr. Clean look.”
Reader #3 – “I’m a woman with thinning hair, advised by friends to get a full wig or hair piece woven into my remaining hair. I’m weighing those choices.”
Reader #4 – “Some men accept the natural progression of male pattern baldness, others take medication. This man should speak with a doctor. It can take a year before seeing effects from medication.”
FEEDBACK Regarding the concerns of a woman and her siblings, about her widowed father's “girlfriend” (May 12):
Reader – “Responding ‘gently’ shouldn’t always or necessarily be the approach to follow when there’s a serious family conflict.
“The adult children's concerns about their father's financial and physical safety could warrant an intervention by family, and also include his close friend about matters.
“You could also be bringing to your father’s attention the copies mentioned of the public court files about the woman with whom he’s involved, while also being explicit about your concerns regarding the information.
“Initially, the concerned family should consult a family counsellor about whether and how to proceed with that course of action, as well as alternative choices.
“Grief, which this father suffered when his wife passed, can incapacitate people in many different ways. Standing by and helplessly watching an aging parent self-destruct is not the solution here.”
Tip of the day:
Ignore years-ago high-school gossip.