Tuesday, September 03, 2002

"The Hue from Shore" Part 4 in a series

He knew his place.

Guys like Bill Radencamp and Jeff Terian had asked out Mindy, and they had been shot down. From Tim's observation, she hadn't been as nice to them as she'd been to him, but nonetheless, they were guys from his level in the social strata, guys from his crowd. And had they been "shot down"? They had indeed been turned down, but there wasn't the harshness of rejection that girls like Heather Kiefer or Cathy Milspah would routinely dish out. Tim was a good enough friend with Jeff to grill him a little about what happened, but was reluctant to highlight his own interest too much. He did find out that she was rather direct in her rejection, that she had told Jeff "No, I'm sorry, thank you." She had said this in a nice enough way, according to Jeff, and he related to Tim: "She said it in an understanding way, like I wasn't eligible to date her or something, but not that she thought she was better than me. I mean, I didn't end up feeling like a complete idiot or anything."

Tim didn't want to engage in that sort of folly. Jeff had mistakenly thought that Mindy's pleasant demeanor toward him equated to some sort of romantic possibility. Even though Tim wished it were so, and got consistently positive attention from Mindy, he was certain that he didn't have any romantic possibility with her either.

Tim knew his place. Tim felt that there was implicit agreement between them. Mindy would stay flirtatious, coy, and positive. They'd have good, brief interaction, every time they came in contact, even, especially, when she was amongst the cool girls or the jocks. He'd never ask her out, never force her to be the one to set the limits of their interaction. He wouldn't seek to meet his needs through her, and in return she'd always offer a positive gleam.

Tim's theory, of course, was never fully tested. Years later, one of his friends suggested that he'd created his theory, his imaginary agreement, as a way of avoiding a rejection that was not inevitable. Dave said that he'd have been taking a risk, but there was no agreement, no clear limit on the possibilities. Tim felt that he was taking the high moral ground, and that he'd had enough unspoken communication with Mindy to be relatively sure of how things stood.

As high school ended, Tim knew he wouldn't be around her much anymore. He was going to go to Madison for school, and she was staying in Edina. He hoped for a few parting words at graduation, but he couldn't get close enough to her in the crowd on the football field after the ceremony. No parting moment, not that he had anything big planned, but he did hope for a small final interaction to savor later.

That fall, at UW, he used some of his pent-up energy to knock on the dorm door of Leslie Grant, from his freshman comp class, with a blurted declaration of his interest in her. She was surprised, and curtly replied that she had a boyfriend. The next year, Tim moved to Chicago to finish school. He went home on occasion, never running into Mindy around town. He didn't return to Edina for his fifth or tenth reunions. Twenty years passed before he saw her again.

...to be continued


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