Young love outlasted by lifelong loyalty

“Hello, young lovers, whoever you are, I hope your troubles are few. All my good wishes go with you tonight. I’ve been in love like you. Be brave young lovers, and follow your star. Be brave and faithful and true. Cling very close to each other tonight. I’ve been in love like you.”

Rogers and Hammerstein’s song from “The King and I” is sung by an older woman observing a pair of young lovers and their urgency to be together, recalling her own past  romance. My favorite line is, “I know how it feels to have wings on your heels, and to fly down a street in a trance.” It’s like wearing a pair of Nike Air Cupids. The most wonderful of feelings: No pain unless you’re apart.

But how real is it? Can something like that last? Truthfully, I hope not. I’m thinking of how dangerous a world would it be if we as a society at any one time had too many people flitting around in that state. Nothing would get done. The atmosphere would be choked with pheromone pollution. There’d be no tables available in dimly lit restaurants. Champagne and flower sales would soar, along with power tool injuries.

When my parents married in 1959, friends soaped their car windows with the phrase “Young and Foolish.” I’ve come to realize that quaint tradition actually served as a warning sign to other drivers. An abbreviated version of what it really meant . . . . “Caution: Driver Under the Influence of Hormones.”

It’s safe to say young love has its time and place. Hopefully, it subsides or matures a bit before a couple has children, so they will have the presence of mind to care for them. I hate the thought of an innocent infant unnecessarily getting stuck by a diaper pin because his parents are busy gazing into one another’s eyes.

While young love seems fraught with safety issues, it does convey super powers. I was able to defy all kinds of weather for hours on end, sitting on hard bleachers watching my sweetie play football and baseball, two sports I’m loathe to watch. And I could stay up extremely late without being tired the next day if it involved watching movies curled up on the couch next to “my guy” (I’ll spare you my rendition of the Mary Wells’ tune).

I was deftly able to drive my first car through road commission crew-defying snowstorms to reach the object of my affection. Another time, when I was out parking on a snowy, zero degree January evening following a boys’ basketball game, young love provided the superhuman strength to push my car out of a slippery rut where it had somehow got stuck.

The alternative was to call my father to come with his tractor and tow chain, necessitating an explanation of why the car was so far off the beaten path. I may have been young and foolish, but I wasn’t totally stupid.

Ah, young love. It may have evaporated with age, but I’m pleased to say some former “my guys” are still in my life, something I never predicted at the time of our respective break-ups. Puppy love may have gone to the dogs, but long-term loyalty remains.

Trusted friends, we call, e-mail and write, invite one another to special occasions and join for coffee or a meal. We’ve assisted one another’s children, visited each other when one of us was injured or ill, served as sounding boards for relational issues, given tough love, mourned the loss of loved ones, and even served as pallbearers at family funerals.

My husband understands and appreciates these connections and their significance to me.

Although we uncoupled long ago, these men remain cherished friends. We’re intimately woven into the fabric of one another’s lives, united by shared history and lasting concern.

These days, I find myself still braving bad weather, losing sleep and getting my car stuck to be with “my guy.” But now it’s the ultimate “my guy,” my husband. He’s the man who takes me places such as to see “Menopause, the Musical.” Youth passes, but foolishness remains. Hello, old lovers, whoever you are . . . .


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