An unbelievably long time ago now, Denis Francis Joseph Callahan was in love. The object of his affection was a woman about 15 years younger, from a different generation completely from Denis who was a man of the 60s. I don’t know why, actually, as he was 3 years younger than I meaning that he would have been 5 when the 60s started and 9 when the Beatles began their ascendancy, but it was what it was.
Rebecca was all Blues Traveler.
Music is a litmus test for the success of a relationship. No, I mean seriously. My first husband hated Steppenwolf so much he threw all my albums into the dumpster and said, “There’s more to life than a 30 minute drum solo.” He offered no particularly enticing alternatives.
“The thing is, Gus,” (Denis’ nickname for me based on a nom de plume I sometimes used in fun, Augusta Lamont) “I yearn.”
Yearning is one of the best parts of being in love, I think. It’s the whole “Grecian Urn” thing. Nothing happens in real life and the lovers never disappoint each other or fight or get jealous or any of the other things that can happen after “capture.” Nothing is expected of either partner in the “yearning” phase. It’s all flashbulbs, fireworks, unicorns, hearts and My Little Pony sweetness and potential.
We spent lots of time together, meeting for coffee, dinner, a Sunday morning walk on the beach, mostly him talking to me about his unserved passion, but other things, too. When he summoned the courage to tell Rebecca his feelings, she responded with, “Thank you.”
“What does that mean, Gus?” he asked as we sat in front of a coffee house in Pacific Beach.
“It means she doesn’t feel the same way, Denis.”
“I’m going to call her and ask her.”
“Yeah, do that.”
“Really? It’s a good idea?”
“No. It’s a shit idea.”
“How do you know?”
“OK. Pretend I’m her. Call her.”
“Rebecca? This is Denis. Hey, what did you mean yesterday when… I get it, Gus. I’d look like a loser.”
“All you got left is your dignity, Denis. Cling to it.”
“No one ever did that for me before. You’re a real friend, Gus.”
I was in love with Denis then. He was cute, very bright, very funny, literate, articulate, quoted poetry (and recited it with me!), bought me Njal’s Saga which changed my life, and he was a riot to hang around with. Unrequited love appears to have been a speciality of both of us. A few years later, when Denis looked around and noticed me, that ship had sailed.