Saturday, July 02, 2005

A STORY ABOUT A GIRL I KNEW

[Because a Supreme Court justice resigned this week, the entire country is going to be plunged into a left vs. right debate on.... abortion... yet again. So I thought I would publish a few thoughts about the subject from my personal perspective.]

No one "likes" abortion. Even the most wide-eyed radical femi-nazi does not advocate abortion as a means of birth control. No one wants to have an abortion.

I understand the views of all sides, and I'm just as confused as everyone else.

However, I am sure of one thing. We should never go back to how it was when I was a young man.

When I was a freshman in college in 1965 (U. of Virginia) I had a girlfriend (believe it or not!) named Becky. She went to one of the women's colleges not far from Mr. Jefferson's University. Anyway, her roommate, Susan, and I used to go everywhere together. Sometimes Susan had a date, sometimes not. It didn't matter We were like the "gang of three" always going out, and doing what today would be called "good clean fun" (no dope, no hard booze, etc.)

It was a simpler life back then. Virginia was about 3 years behind the rest of the country so while other college kids were doing weed, we were still drinking beer... and happy to do that! We had dances. We had parties. We had actual dates. We had friends... and it was a sincere kind of friendship, not like it is with kids today. We had fun.

As often happens, I came to like Susan better than Becky, but of course never said or did anything about it. I could have played that role in the movie St. Elmo's Fire.... the kid who likes the girl but never says anything, just tries to hang out around her.

Susan was a 10, and back then I was a skinny, very-Jewish-looking guy, too short, with bad acne, bad hair, thick glasses, and a real dumpy car. I knew it was hopeless but I really liked Susan. Maybe I was "dumb looking" but I wasn't dumb. I knew Susan never saw anything in me, never would, and that was that. But there was always a little bit of hope that I carried around with me... and it was good to have that hope in my life.

During semester break Becky went home, but Sue stayed at school. She called me and said we should go to dinner one night. I borrowed $20 from my roommate and made reservations at the Monticello Hotel dining room. I had the hope.

You don't find places like the Monticello Hotel anymore. It was "old South" elegant, semi-dark, candles, and had something very special for us at that age... tablecloths.

I wore a bad-fitting suit, but Sue had that little black dress... (not to get confused with Bobbie Brooks.) I'd never been out with a girl in a dress that showed what that dress showed.

In the candle light (we all look good in candle light!) I was transfixed by her beauty and her "adult-ness." It was the first time I'd ever been out with a real "woman." We talked music, politics, literature, and almost solved the problems of poverty and world peace! It was a night like none I'd ever had before.

I took her back to her dorm, gave her a friendly peck on the cheek (in that awkward teenage way) and knew that something special had happened to me that night. I became an adult myself. It's amazing what changes us.

Becky was a nice girl, sweet, but it was Sue that I really liked. However, back then, guys like me knew their place in the social order and that girls like Sue were beyond our reach. It was OK (I kept telling myself) to just be good friends. And it really was OK. All of us. It was a great time to be alive, to be young, and to just live.

Around the middle of that year Susan met a guy... I think his name was Joel, had un-protected sex and she became pregnant.

And no, I didn't have un-protected sex. I didn't have sex at all because I drove a Plymouth Valiant and girls (especially Becky!) didn't put out in a Plymouth. I didn't get "lucky" until my junior year... her name was Donna... the body of a Playboy bunny, a face like 30 miles of bad road... and a hell of a nice girl whom I've never forgotten. Maybe she reads these rants. You never know. But I digress.

Sue's boyfriend had some money (something none of the rest of us had much of) and arranged for what you would call a "back alley" abortion in Richmond. Abortion was not legal in Virginia (or anywhere else that I knew of back then, except Sweden.) Becky took Susan there. I didn't go.

Becky told me the story. She said the place was an apartment, dirty, and, in her words "creepy." She didn't tell me about the procedure... it wasn't something that boys and girls talked about back then.

A day or two after the procedure something bad happened. Susan started bleeding, first a little bit, then more, and then it was, as Becky said, in buckets. She was rushed to the hospital... ambulance, sirens, flashing lights, the whole thing.

She didn't make it.

The funeral was very beautiful. It was the first one I'd ever been to. The minister gave a nice speech. But, all I saw was a beautiful young girl in an open casket, and I've never forgotten it. I can still feel the sadness.

It wasn't long after that, just before the end of the spring semester that Becky and I broke up. She went home that summer and married a lifeguard at the pool she worked at. I went on to other girls (who would not have sex with me.... probably because I still had that damn Plymouth.)

No I didn't become a pro-choice zealot. And I don't pontificate on the "morals" of abortion. All I know is that a young girl that I knew and loved died needlessly.

I think about her sometimes. That night at dinner. The candlelight. I remember it so well.

She was a really nice girl and I was in love.

I wish I had told her.

Alan N. Canton, President Adams-Blake Company, Inc

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