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Let thy fountain be blessed:
and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.
—Proverbs 5:18

We wait until thirty, marry our fourth
girlfriend, then threaten her with divorce.

If you’re me (pray you’re not), you never
learned love, lied to the wife of your youth,
fell in love with eight or nine girls, played sports
or drank alcohol all over them, made fun
of them when it was clear I hadn’t the skill
to “have” them, be with them, marry them.

I lied to the wife of my youth.

Take heed then to your spirit, and let no one
deal treacherously against the wife of your youth…
—Malachi 2:15

I lied to the wife of my youth.  I have sought
the love of strangers, because I was not honest
with the love of my life, the blessing God
gave me back in third grade.

A hard curse to reverse, but if Boston and
Chicago can get their baseball teams past
theirs, perhaps there is a way to reverse my
sad state.

*******

I saw Anne well before third grade.  I mean,
I think I did, but it was that school year that
illuminated her in a different light.

They call it a “crush.”  Solomon and Malachi
called her the Wife of my Youth.

I was two years from my parents splitting up,
had had a drink of bourbon on Dad’s lap, and
was into tennis.

She was too.  Into tennis.

There was a crush and feelings, possibly before
the night John McEnroe played doubles in front
of us, but that night moved the feelings forward
to another level.

It was a Sunday night, and we had “Show and Tell”
the next day in school, and I think Anne talked about
it.

We both went to the match with our families,
professional tennis on exhibition at a local
Southern California venue, maybe UCLA.

My family and I watched the doubles match,
and five or so rows below us to our right was
the Devereux family, Anne’s family, taking in the
match as well.

We were tennis families.

She was so blonde back then, maybe still is,
I dunno.

So cute.  So pretty.  A little tennis-playing athlete,
like me, probably with pro sports dreams—like me.

She had split-up parents, like me—I think alcohol
dripping through them, like me.

She was just gold and pure from my point of
view.  There was no divorce in looking at her,
no alcohol, no sadness.

Just a desire to be with her, spend time with her,
impress her—make her laugh.

I was in love.

God was not in my life, no source
of courage or strength.  Dad was my
favorite person before Anne came around, but
he and I never talked about feelings.

Coors Light, bourbon and water, divorce and
pretending to be excited about two
Christmases were some of my hobbies
by the time I fell in love with that cute
blonde five rows below me in the stadium,
a couple desks over in our third grade
classroom.

During show and tell the Monday after that
Sunday night tennis outing, Anne shared
that she had gone to see professional tennis,
and shared with a giggle that she had seen ME,
which was the moment in her share I was hanging
on in earnest.

I was in someone’s story, which was cool, but
that she was in my heart was new, and I had no
idea how to proceed.

So I hoped.  And hoped.  And looked.  And kept
trying to catch her attention, make her laugh or
smile.

I bragged about stuff.  She entrapped me once with
a prank, while “tripping people” became something
fun to do.  (We weren’t guided very well)

I declared to Anne that “I could never be tripped.”

Then one day, when the bell rang for P.E. (my favorite
class), Untrippable Bill RAN out of the classroom,
only to have Anne with her foot out.

Totally tripped me.  Could have killed me.

And she laughed.  And she had me.  It was mean,
but I guess I liked the attention…

*******

Osmosis didn’t work with love.  At least,
not with this one.  It did not seep out and share
itself by close proximity to the subject.

Feats achieved on the playing field, classroom,
or with any bragging words did not grant me
access.

I had no phone number, no date for tennis, no
way to keep in touch over the Summer, so when
the last bell rang for the three month break,
I was secretly sad at my failure.

It may have been the day we went to see Mork
and Mindy taped.  My friends and I did stuff our
moms planned for the last day of school; one time
we went to the beach…

It was all fine, except the person I really wanted
to be with was Anne Devereux.

And she went off, may have done stuff with her
friends, and I was privately devastated.  Unable to
communicate love, I was on my way to multiple
failures in love, never having a clue that Alcohol
was at the center of it all.

*******

The devil wears many dresses, corrupts, shines
in a way you wanna grab, have that thing.

I reached for Dad’s bourbon and water.

It took no courage…

But to tell Anne I loved her; that was something
I did not have in my bag, to use a tired golf
analogy.

I was scared.  I had no God to pray to about
that fear, so let the fear run my silence, and love
was not expressed.

I hurt myself; I hurt Anne.  I blasphemed against
God by not following my heart in love, and am left
to serve time for that.

Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe;
let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thy
ravished always with her love.

I even made a cruel joke about Anne during our
ninth grade class trip.  It came from total despair
at not knowing how to express feelings, be intimate
with anyone.  So I lashed out against her.

I looked for someone new to love and cheat by not
telling the truth.

Rinse.  Repeat.  Rinse.  Repeat…

And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with
a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of
a stranger?

God could see my sins.  I could not, still forsaking
without knowing, playing those sports, drinking
those beers—Running with the Devil himself.

For the ways of man are before the eyes of the
LORD, and he pondereth all his goings.

I was spiritually dying…

His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself,
and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins.

He shall die without instruction; and in the greatness
of his folly he shall go astray.

Yet ye say, Wherefore?

Make no mistake, it’s a big deal to cross
the LORD, and the LORD’s plans for you.

Because the LORD hath been witness between
thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom
thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy
companion, and the wife of thy covenant.

We play act, pretend all is fine with the
strangers we have found.

We make due and survive, but…

There is a subtle, sometimes harsh wind that
blows, that challenges—even threatens—

Peace of Mind.

And without that… God’s curse becomes real,
our true paths forgotten, and Heaven an
empty dream.

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