By Steve Cash / Detroit
I ran into an old girlfriend unexpectedly the other day. It brought back some memories. I've been happily married to a wonderful woman for 40 years, but I must admit I still have some curiosity concerning my old flames, and always wondered what happened to them.
I've known people who were married for 30 years, had three kids and after they got divorced, lost almost all contact with their former spouse. I never understood how a person could be such an intricate part of one's life and then quickly be forgotten. I'm not like that. I once had feelings for these ladies and to a small degree some of those feelings are still with me.
After bumping into my former flame, I started thinking about these relationships and realized there was one common factor present in all of them. Almost every relationship lasted approximately 10 months. These relationships seemed to follow the same pattern. I started thinking about why these love affairs, which seemed so real and intense, were over just as fast as they started. I decided to document these relationships in order to try and find an explanation for why these once promising romances fizzled so quickly
Gale was two years younger than me. I met her In 1971 at Candy Cone, an ice cream parlor in Oak Park, Mich. Her voice was the first thing that caught my attention. A high-pitched squeaky voice that would have been perfect for a cartoon voice over. I said hello to her, and we started talking. To my delight, I found out she lived four doors down from me. Somehow I had never seen this adorable young lady.
We talked for an hour. I was able to make her laugh. and we seemed to have a lot in common. She loved the Beatles and was also a big Detroit Tigers fan. We made arrangements to meet again and I went home with the Herman's Hermits lyric "Something tells me I'm into something good" ringing in my ears.
The next five or six months were great. Young love was exciting. I was 18 and she was 16 and we were having fun. We would park in my closed garage and share some affection. It was our own secret place where we felt safe. The only problem was her dad would take a walk every night and pass by my house. He had a specific gait and I always knew when it was him. We both held our breath until he was out of range. I always was paranoid about him bursting into the garage and confronting me and defending his beloved daughter’s honor, but thank goodness, he was oblivious to our goings-on.
As the weeks and months went by, I started noticing some ominous signs. I would take her to watch my softball games, but she seemed to be talking and flirting with the other players on my team. She wasn't laughing as much at my jokes and our garage visits were becoming less frequent. Finally, she broke the news to me, with the dreaded cliché, "I just want to be friends.'' Almost 10 months to the day that I had first met her.
Kerry was gorgeous. Only 16 but way ahead of herself. Experienced in love and romance and unashamed to proclaim her interest in physical activity at a time when this kind of liberation was not fashionable. I met her at Burger King and I was smitten. She was in your face and aggressive and knew what she wanted. The fact that she was remotely interested in me was shocking. I was short, insecure, and not really ready for a dynamo like her.
We clicked somehow and started seeing each other. I was 18 and driving now, and we went to movies and concerts. She introduced me to some romantic activities that were wonderful and new to me. But in the midst of these activities, she would never fail to mention that her old boyfriend was much better at these activities than me, and that I was no match for him anatomically either. (If you get my drift.)
After a few months I started noticing some other disturbing facts. She was much smarter than me. Even at her tender age, she was an avid reader. As I was reading Sports Illustrated, she was reading Dickens and Tolstoy. I was at an intellectual disadvantage when she wanted to discuss these things.
She would ask me to analyze Dickens' character Miss Havisham; I had to admit I had never read it, but I did know Hank Aaron's lifetime batting average. In the end my inexperience and our many differences doomed the relationship. We parted as friends. Timetable? Approximately 10 months.
I met Mary at a train station in Los Angeles. I looked around and there she was. A Mexican beauty. Olive skin, beautiful hair and a gorgeous face. I boarded the train and as fate would have it, she was sitting right behind me. There was an empty seat next to her and I asked if I could sit there. We talked from LA until she got off in St. Louis, and made plans to meet when we got back to LA.
When we both returned to LA, I gave her a call. I really impressed her on our first date. On New Years Eve, 1979, my friend Doug Feiger (The Knack, “My Sharona”) was appearing at the Starwood nightclub in Hollywood. I took her there and was invited backstage after the show. We partied with the band and had a blast.
The next day we went to another showbiz friend's house, David Was, to watch Michigan play in the Rose Bowl. After some good food and great company, we had a halftime surprise. An earthquake registering 5.3 hit LA. To a Michigan native like me, this was devastating. Scared the heck out of me. My first inclination was to run like hell and get out of that apartment building. I composed myself and forever endeared myself to Mary by gently and kindly leading her outside. Thirty seconds later, it was over and we watched the end of the game.
Like my friends, I was also trying to make it in show business, in my case as a stand-up comic. In the daytime, I delivered mail. As the months went by and my friends became famous, it became clear to Mary and me that I would not be as fortunate. I decided to go back to Michigan for three months, make some money in real estate and return to my darling Mary.
The night before I left Mary spoke the words that I believe would warm the heart and build the confidence of any man. “Hurry back. Only you know how to make love to me." As Insider readers may remember, two weeks later I found out she was living with the guy who lived in the apartment next to mine in LA. Evidently he was a quick learner. Devastated and shocked, I never returned to LA. Relationship duration: 10 months.
Several years went by. I was now established as a successful realtor but lonely and gun shy about dating. I went to a retirement party and met a cute and friendly young lady. Lori was 21 and I was 30. We talked about our favorite old shows. We shared an interest in Andy Griffith and The Rifleman. She had a great sense of humor and was warm and kind. Her friendly manner was soothing and helped minimize my lifelong struggle with insecurity. We were from different religious and social backgrounds but none of that mattered. I met her parents who were equally as engaging.
I'm not exaggerating when I say that within two weeks, I knew she was right for me. Still somewhat insecure, I didn't introduce her to any of my playboy friends out of fear of them trying to win her affection. I had come to the conclusion that my 10-month dating history was no coincidence.
Determined not to let this pattern continue, I devised a brilliant plan. I married Lori six months into our relationship. Forty years and three wonderful kids later, we are going strong. She is one in a million and I'm truly one of the luckiest guys in the world to have found her.
I recently decided to tell her how much these 40 years have meant to me. I was going to send her a nice card thanking her for these four great decades. In an effort to be accurate, I tried to figure out exactly how long we had known each other. Imagine how much anxiety I felt when I realized we had known each other for 40 years and the dreaded 10 months. I decided not to send the card. No need to tempt fate at this late date.
Steve Cash is originally from Oak Park, Mich. He is a longtime real estate agent who used to do stand-up comedy in L.A. His claim to fame was winning The Gong Show in 1977, and working at the Comedy Store with such greats as David Letterman, Jay Leno, and Michael Keaton. After watching those brilliant comics perform, Steve realized he’d better make a beeline back to Detroit and get back into real estate. Steve has had articles published in a number of publications and enjoys writing and trying to make people laugh.