In May of 1998, I was going to community college in Pittsburgh and finishing up the spring semester. I had four classes that semester, one of which was an advanced English literature class on Monday nights (When I say “advanced”, it was a sophomore year equivalent course at a four-year school). Part of the final for the English class was essay, and I was a slow writer. Out of the fifteen to twenty students in my class I was one of the last to leave class that final night.
On my way back up to my car in the top parking lot, I noticed something white was tucked under my windshield wiper. As I got closer it was clear to me that the white object was a piece of notebook paper folded over. I opened up the paper and something was written in blue ink. The writing looked like it belonged to a girl:
“Hey Larry, it was great having class with you this year!!! Give me a call sometime so we can meetup! 555-555-5555”
One problem–there was no name on the note.
Now, looking at this from afar, one would simply say, “Okay, so just call the number and see who it is!!!” Yes, that seems like an easy solution. But going by my gut feeling, that note could have been left by one of six women…and only one of them was worth the risk of calling.
“The One” was Jennifer. Not Jen or Jenny–she was Jennifer. If the note had this name inked into it, I would have called her as soon as I got home (Silly Millennials, this is 1998–not many cell phones in the 1990’s). Since the note had no name, I had to proceed with caution because:
1) With no name, it might have been put there by my on-again/off-again girlfriend to see if I was cheating on her. My girlfriend didn’t know the names of the women I talked to at school, so that is why I felt the note might have been a trap. It was a low probability, but if I called that number and it was one of her friend’s numbers, I would have encountered WAY too much drama to stay in the “relationship”. (SIDE NOTE: If you find yourself in an on-again/off-again relationship, turn the damn thing off and move on.)
2) Some of the other girls that showed interest in me were, uh, clingy. I’m being nice here. To be fair, I know many girls from my youth thought I was weird. I just didn’t want to call the number, have it belong to someone I didn’t like and have to disinfect them out of my life for the next three weeks. All of this WHILE DEALING WITH MY GIRLFRIEND DRAMA. It wasn’t worth the risk.
3) I parked my car at 8 a.m. and didn’t return until 9 p.m. That note could have been there all day. If the note said, “…great having class with you on Monday nights!!!”, there wouldn’t have been any doubt it came from Jennifer. It said, “…this year!!!” Shit, with all those exclamation points she sure seemed eager to see me again.
If it was Jennifer, the absence of her name on that paper drastically changed the course of her life and mine. If I saw her name, I would have called. I would have stayed with her if we liked each other’s company. I would have dumped my um, girlfriend and would have saved myself another seventeen months of on-again/off-again with her that mercilessly dragged on far into 1999.
A few months later, I came across a student who knew Jennifer and I asked how she was doing. Apparently she was dating a guy and got a job not too far from where I lived at the time. The information I received gave me the opportunity to locate her and try to find out if she indeed put that note on my windshield. But, it sounded like she was happy spending time with her boyfriend and excited about a possible future with him. I didn’t want to spoil her happiness by abruptly reentering her life and seeing if there was a real shot for us to be a couple. So I declined to go see her.
It wasn’t worth the risk.