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It was a sunny Saturday morning one November. I had many things to do that day. After all, Thanksgiving was less than two weeks away and I had much to do before I could chomp into any turkey on my plate in the coming fortnight. They had to get things done.
That Saturday, I agreed to meet with someone: a parent-about her son's success in school. As a teacher, I felt that it was my duty to meet with her. If she had concerns and I was available, I wanted to help her. I figured that I could juggle my schedule around and make some time to see her. So I did.
We agreed to meet at a nearby diner not too far away from my job. Needless to say, she was a parent of one of my students; a nice young man. In class, he was very quiet, but quite amiable. I spoke to him quite often, but he never relayed any concerns about his schoolwork to me. I felt that if I did not pry, he wouldn't tell. I had to see what was going on. Fortunately, his mother reached out to me before I could reach out to her. During our conversation, we agreed that the diner on a Saturday morning would be quite ideal.
The diner was located near a popular high school. He would be there taking a special entrance exam that would last about three hours. While he was there, his Mom and I would be discussing him while dining on a nice meal. The place was fairly crowded, but I was able to secure a nice table for two. I had an advantage because I was able to see my red car from my......er.....our table.
She eventually came in. She was about ten minutes earlier than our scheduled time, but I wasn't going to complain. I got up and held her seat as a gentleman should do. I greeted her as she did me and sat down. I was still able to see my car, but I could not help but look at her. When we spoke about non-school matters, I looked directly at her, starting with her beautiful brown eyes. In fact, her eyes were not the only thing beautiful about her. She was very soft-spoken. Every once in a while, she would heave what seemed like a gentle sigh of relief. I heard it as a sign of "Gee, Maurice. You are so wonderful." Right then and there, I really wanted to kiss her, but that would have been wrong on so many levels. For one, even though she was separated, she was still married. Second, she was a parent of one of my students.
Shortly after, our meals arrived. Mine was my usual waffles with sausage and a cold glass of vanilla egg cream. I honestly do not even remember what she ordered. All I could remember was her beautiful face.
"I want to tell you something that I think that you really need to know," I said.
She responded very gently, "What's that?"
I summoned up all of my courage. I was about to put it all on the line, but she was definitely worth it.
"I lo,.........lov.......I love you!" I retorted like a timid high school boy asking his date out to the prom.
"I figured that as much," she responded.
I wondered, "Does that bother you?"
"No," she said, "but you must always remember something."
"What's that?" I asked inquisitively.
She told me, "We could never have a relationship because I am still married. I am just separated at the moment. I still wish to reconcile with my husband. You DO understand. Don't you?"
At that point, my heart sunk to the floor. I had no other choice but to tell her that I understood and that she would always be my friend, just not a lover at all.
Now that I had set up an awkward situation for the both of us. I knew that I had a responsibility to inject some levity into an embarrassing situation.
I instantly remarked, "Do you know what celebrity you remind me of?"
She said, "No."
Instantly, I spurted out, "The actress Mariska Hargitay."
She gave a bit of a laugh and asked, "Really? Or do you look at me and think of Mariska?"
"No," I responded. "If Mariska walked in here right now, I would still be looking at you and wanting you instead."
We continued with our meal. As I glanced at my watch, I noticed that it was almost 11 AM and the test was almost over. Not only that, but if her son came out early, he would not know where to find her. In my mind, I wanted to take her home, marry her, have children with her, but I had to remember the two barriers again. She was separated and the mother of one of my students. So, I let the idea go......for now.
We took a slow walk back to the school. Within ten minutes of arriving back to the school, her son came out. He was giving his Kool-Aid type of smile. He felt very confident that he did well on the test. I was really happy for him. He hugged and kissed his mom. She turned, looked at me and sheepishly smiled at me as she waved. She now knew how I truly felt about her.
It has been many years since I had seen her. I know that she went back to her husband. Her son? He went on to an excellent high school and graduated from college as well. He knew many things, but he never knew how much I loved...NO....still love his mother.
Me? Nothing has changed. But whenever I see a picture of Mariska, I can only think of the forbidden date I had that one Saturday in November a long time ago. She will never be forgotten.
It was never meant to be.