Let Them Wonder…


I hope that everyone has a friend in their past that wasn’t part of the same crowd you spend time with. Not just someone who anyone would describe as an outsider, but a person who is so different from everyone else that people look oddly at you because of it. During my high school years and even through college I had one who I now realize was most likely a better friend than some of the people I spent time with.
Rebecca was one of those people who just by looking at her you knew she was a little “different”. Always nicely dressed but with a back that was ramrod straight and she walked with this motion that made some think she thought less of them. Add in that her mother was always around for everything that went on, constantly in the face of teachers and students trying to jockey a better position for her daughter. It said more about her mother than Rebecca, who had the ability and talent but it was always masked by mommy in the corner. These days we call them Helicopter Parents, back then they were just made fun of.
The man I am today realizes that some parents just don’t know how to let their kids be kids, always trying to be a part of things when they should just sit back and watch.
Plenty of people made fun of me for doing things with her. The funny thing for me was that I actually enjoyed her company. There were times when her sheltered nature was amusing, my parents were more of the “let him try and hopefully he won’t kill himself” type. So her apprehension about what were normal teenage activities was confusing. I leaped when she would stand on the precipice and think. Only one time did she just give in.
We were coming back from some school thing and Rebecca was driving. I don’t recall why she was, but I think it had something to do with one of those episodes where maybe my parents took my car keys because I had done another of those lacking foresight activities.
On the way home I offered to by us some ice cream. It seemed like the right thing to do, she had driven. I think it might have been one of the few times when someone had offered her alone time without an agenda. As we pulled out of the place, I remember yelling for her to watch where she was going. She had been watching me rather than the intersection and we blew through a red light. Not really an issue in the days before cameras would have sent you a ticket, but scary all the same.
The look on her face told me everything. She was trying to figure out what I wanted from her. So unaccustomed to being treated nicely by a guy she didn’t know how to react. It wasn’t that people were cruel to her, that wouldn’t have flown. Rebecca just had a different set of experiences than others our age.
By the time we pulled into the driveway, that’s when things got awkward. Like I said, she was a friend, I leaned in to give her a hug and thank her for driving my lazy butt around. She shrunk back, possibly because she thought I was putting some move on her? But hug delivered I hopped out and through the front door.
The next day everything was normal and it was if the strangeness of the car had been forgotten.
Plenty of people had seen me get in the car with her. More people asked if something was up because they wouldn’t have done the same thing. To me it was just the simple solution to a problem, I needed a ride and she lived 10 minutes away. I asked, she said sure and that was that. Even her friends asked if I had ulterior motives. Had I misjudged the situation to the point where I didn’t see something. Who knows?
At some point during college we went out to dinner just to catch up. (this time I know I drove!) But the same reaction came when the guy waiting tables knew us from high school. When she got up to do one of those things someone leaves a dinner table for, the question came out. “What’s up with you guys?”
I just smiled, by this point I knew it was better to let people think what they want then try to explain simple ideas. The dumb teenager finally learned not that other people will always bring their own thoughts into any situation.
When her parents through her a 21st birthday party, I was there and honestly surprised to see alcohol available. Later when she graduated college and was ready to move out I helped back the truck with her father. My family had taught me well I guess!
I lost touch with her after that. My fault really, I just didn’t try hard enough. It was during a time when I needed some space from my past and had moved across the country to get away from everyone I knew.
Hopefully she’s doing well. But that’s what you want for your friends, to be well.


2 thoughts on “Let Them Wonder…

  1. I agree. I, too, always sought out the stranger in the crowd. This does not, however, prove to be a popular decision with one’s friends. I think I’ve written about this earlier in my blog. But what did not serve me well in high school has served me well in having an interesting life! I enjoyed your post very much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s always amusing to look back and see who the real friends were. She was a much better person than any of us gave her credit for. Too bad it took 25 years to acknowledge it.


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