Once a Girlfriend

Looking around at their reunion the man thought, I remember her. 20? No – 30 years ago we dated. She was cute. She’s still cute. She had a great vocabulary. Because of her I can say, “My vegetable garden is languishing this year.” Because of her I don’t smoke cigarettes. My wife never knew who to thank for that. I enjoy the occasional cigar when I win a round of golf. She said she liked the smell of cigar smoke on a man. I wonder if she still does. 30 years. Man she’s still cute. She’d point out some nonexistent wrinkles, posture less than perfect. I just want to grab hold of her hand, kiss her cheek, hear her laugh. She always liked my laugh. Said I was smart-funny. I wonder if she still has that ring I bought her at the estate sale, a band of square-cut sapphires. I wanted to get her a diamond, show the world what she’s worth. She smiled in her eyes. “This is perfect. It’s a promise ring.” One she didn’t keep. I don’t know if I ever forgave her. I know I didn’t forget her. If she turns around and I catch her eye, will she remember me? How could she not? Sailboat rides on Charleston Harbor, oysters on the grill, how she’d get mad when I beat her at racquetball (I showed no mercy, I like to win), sex in the bucket seat of my Toyota on some back road of Tennessee. I used to type her manuscripts – Romance – hoping to help her in her writing success. Did she make it? I’ll ask her. In the back of my mind I’ll be picturing Tennessee. I’ll – there’s my beautiful wife, coming back from the bathroom. She says old exes can’t be friends.

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