Saturday, February 06, 2010


My friend Mapstew in Eire has three daughters. The eldest is Kate, who is a singer like her dad. And she writes songs, and poems, and short stories, and a blog. Phew. It is one of her poems that inspired this post and, unless you read it first, the rest of my blather will not make much sense: The Telephone.

I have never been one much for poetry, but Kate's instantly hit a chord with me: a memory came flooding back in full force, a memory hidden in some dark recess just waiting patiently for me to remember it.

* * * * *

She was my First Great Love, my first real love that did not have the word puppy for a prefix. The first time I saw her, she was standing at the top of the stairs handing out welcome packages to us incoming college freshmen. I stopped in the stairwell and just stared at her, causing a chain-reaction collision of human bodies behind me. She was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen, and I was in stomach-churning, light-headed love.

I looked and looked for her in vain, until one night when I was tending bar at a neighborhood tavern. I was busy serving both the customers and myself when three people came in and sat down at the quiet end of the bar. I knew the two adults, but she was with them. She was their daughter. I stopped being busy, and I stared at her. She was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen, and I was in stomach-churning, light-headed love all over again.

I asked for her ID so I would know her name and age. I was in a jocular mood thanks to a beer here and there, and it was with beery courage that I asked her to go out with me. She said yes, and for the first time I heard her full, throaty laugh.

The telephone. I remember it like it was yesterday, and how I wanted to reach through the wire and touch her hair, to touch her face, to hold her hand, to hold her in my arms. She was, after all, my First Great Love.

I think Charles Aznavour, in one of my all-time favorite songs, can sing about her better than I can write.

[Thank you, Kate, for publishing your poem, and to you, Map, for making me aware of it.]


Peter S. said...

Hi, Charlie! This is one of the reasons I pop over here at your blog -- I just love reading about your thoughts (book related or otherwise).

By the way, I relate to the song "She" in a wholly different way. When I hear it, I usually think of my mother. She's someone I can't seem to completely understand, no matter how hard I try.

Pat said...

I really hope her name was Martha.

mapstew said...

Thanks Charlie, for the great story, and for the 'heads-up' to Kate & meself.

(You have also inspired me to put 'She' into my rep!)


Tiffin said...

Well, both you and Kate have set me off on a mental ramble into the past, between poem and post. Beautiful song too, Charlie. Thanks for this.

Kate said...

Dad just directed my attention to this :) Thank you for the mention, maybe I should do this writing thing more often :P

Wandering Coyote said...

That was very slick of you to ID her, Charlie! Way to go!

Fay's Too said...

Ah, Charlie! What a romantic you are, and such a way with words.

Charlie said...

PETER: That is a nice sentiment, Peter, about your mother. I suspect, however, that you will never understand her completely, just like 99.9% of the female gender.

I'm glad you like my thoughts because I'm not doing much with books lately—that's your strong point.

Charlie said...

PAT: "It was better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all."

MAP: Aznavour wrote that song in 1974 and it was a HUGE hit in the UK as well as France. It truly is a beautiful song, especially with his very distinctive voice.

TUI: Mental rambles are good for us, especially when they are about love and we have Charles Azanvour helping us out.

KATE: You are a talented young lady and I urge you to keep on writing. You almost trashed that poem, not knowing that it would affect a total stranger thousands of miles away. Again, thank you.

WC: I probably got the idea from watching cops do it. I have to agree with you, though: I am rather slick at times.

FAY: You're right: I'm a romantic clear through to my bones. I think that's why I like books with strong female characters.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Those first great loves never really go away do they? You see signs of the one with whom you are smitten all over the place.

Jimmy Bastard said...

As always, Charlie speaks straight fae the heart. Good for you pal.

Robert the Skeptic said...

It's always interesting to me how two people can instantly click like that. I asked Nancy to marry me after we had only known each other 10 days. She said yes. That will be 25 years ago this year, and it's only gotten better.

Stinkypaw said...

Aznavour is one of my favorites... what can I say I like men! ;-)

Meg said...

I really like her poem. Your story was equally inspiring.

Kim Ayres said...

In response to your response to Pat, it reminds me of my father's attitude to money and possessions - "better to have had it for 6 months and have it reclaimed, than never to have had it at all..."

Charlie said...

BARB: No, those first great loves never really go away—otherwise, they wouldn't have been great.

JIMMY: Thanks, Jimmy, but I'm also known to speak bullshit quite fluently in other posts.

ROBERT: I was smitten for several months before we met, and then it clicked.

The secret for longevity is to keep it clicking.

STINKY: Unfortunately, YouTube did not have any versions of Aznavour singing in French with the English lyrics.

Are you a fan of the Little Bird too?

MEG: Kate's poem goes to show that you don't have to be Longfellow or Frost to write inspiration.

And you're pretty adept at writing inspiration yourself.

KIM: In my much younger, irresponsible days, the repo man was not unknown to me . . .

Stinkypaw said...

Charlie, Im not quite sure what you meant by "Little Bird"?