Like the tide rushing in, love can be washed away in a moment’s time, by simply saying the wrong thing at the wrong time.
The Dumb Mistake
By Richard Mabey Jr.
January of 1973 marked several landmarks for me. Some were wonderful and joyous. Others were extremely painful. Some left me questioning where I would be headed next.
It was in early January of 73 that I began my last semester and County College. It left me with a feeling of reaching a milestone. On the other hand, it left me with an insecure feeling of where to go from here.
Also, it was in early January of 73 that I got a long letter from my old girlfriend, Penny Appleton. The letter was filled with reflections of things we used to do; going to the Pine Brook Speedway on Friday nights, getting hamburgers at the Burger Chef on Route 46 in Pine Brook, studying at the library in Paterson, and of the times I showed Penny my articles that appeared in Youngtown Edition.
But, alas, the letter also contained sad news for me. Penny wrote me about this wonderful boy she met at Rutgers, Donald Witherspoon III. Penny wrote me about riding in his expensive sports car, around and about New Brunswick. She also wrote me how happy that she was that her daddy really liked this fair-thee-well, rich boy.
I remember that when I read Penny’s letter, I cried.
It was in January of 73 that my friend, Susan and I went on a monumental date. Monumental not in a joyous way. But, monumental in the sense that it was a life-changing date for me.
Susan and I went to see a flick at the old State Theater in Boonton. We were having a great old time. Kidding and laughing. We simply got along smashingly. It wasn’t so much the romance of the decade, but rather I found in Susan, a girl with an incredible sense of humor.
After the film, we drove in my old Ford Falcon to Paul’s Diner on Route 46, just outside of Boonton. I didn’t have a lot of spending money back then. I remember that we just had pie and tea.
Well, here goes. The mistake of the year for this kid. Susan was simply hilarious. I remember this so very well. We were in Paul’s Diner kidding around, joking around. Susan got me laughing like there was no tomorrow.
Oh, what a dope I was. At one point, in all of our kidding around, I looked Susan in the eye and said, “oh, Penny, you’re hilarious.” What a dumb slip up. That was that. It was over. I blew it. There was no one to blame but the chap that I saw in the mirror. It was over.
I remember anger filled Susan’s face. With fury and rage, Susan asked me, “who’s this Penny?”
So, I told her.
I paid for our pie and tea. We walked out of Paul’s Diner. No longer was there any laughter, joking around or having a good time. It was over. It was really over.
On our ride to Susan’s home in Lake Parsippany, not a word was said. Not a single, solitary word was said. When I pulled up to Susan’s driveway, Susan opened the car door and got out. Then she leaned over and simply yelled at me, “don’t bother calling me any more! I mean it!”
I did call her a few times. But she made it clear, it was over between us.
Owning up to a dumb mistake like that, isn’t easy. Believe me, it’s still painful. Susan was this beautiful girl with long, curly blonde hair. She was fun loving. She thought that Don Knotts was a great actor. She had this great sense of humor.
Even now, I look back, it still stings a little.