SO WORCESTER, IT HURTS…#7 by Steve Siddle

August 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

8.8.11

So Worcester, It Hurts…#7

by Steve Siddle

Dan never got over his first love. Summer Henderson was the dopest girl from the class of ’97.

She was blond, talented, and totally in love with Dan. The two of them lit up every house party they went to; they smoldered like hot coals in the back seat of his Chevy Impala and inspired jealous stares from the teachers who tried to keep them from kissing during Graduation rehearsal. They shone with that ineffable glow that young love casts upon the lucky few.

Like some of the greatest loves of human history, their love was not built to last. Summer went away to college and never came back.Worcester, Ma was too small for her. Dan, on the other hand, could never imagine living anywhere else.

The last I heard Summer was living inL.A.She has a recurring role on one of the C.S.I. shows and she plays piano and sings Joni Mitchell covers at the Troubadour once a month. Rumor has it she is fucking one of the guys from “That 70’s Show.”

Things worked out pretty good for Dan. After suffering through a few classes at Quinsigamond Community College, he quit school and went to work for his Uncle’s Towing Company. Dan now runs a towing company and he’s making good money. Last spring, he married his best friend’s wife’s best friend and they bought a house on the lake.

Dan should be happier than he is. Most of the time he smiles and laughs and slaps shoulders like the rest of us, but after a few too many drinks, when his wife is in bed alone, Dan will sit and think about Summer.

No woman will ever compare to the memory of that first love. Nothing will ever seem so sweet again. “I had it all” he once told me in slurred speech as we sat up smoking by the lakeside, “I peaked too soon.”

My first love wasn’t that great. She was cute, don’t get me wrong, and we had some wonderful times together, but she was far from the love of my life. Susie Mahoney and me met at church camp and dated on and off throughout high school. We laughed a lot, but we fought a lot too. She could be mean as a rattlesnake when she got a few drinks in her, and I wasn’t much better.

I still see Susie a few times a year at weddings and funerals and every now and again we bump into each other at the Boynton. It’s usually good to see her.

According to Facebook updates, Susie is now dating Tommy Flannagan, who I never liked. Tommy was always kind of a tool but I hope he’s sharp enough to know that if he ever really hurts that girl I’ll kill him.

See, even though Susie wasn’t the love of my life, I still love her. It’s like Jay said, “that girl’s so thorough/ she’s been with me from the start/ so if it goes down/ yo, that’s my heart.”

It is precisely because we have learned the limits of our relationship that I still have the kind of love I have for her. We’ve been friends about ten times longer than we have been lovers and we share the same the group of friends. Susie’s older brother Bobby is one of my best friends, and Susie works for my cousin Mary’s Hair Salon. We will always be connected and close in a way that none of the girls I date now will ever be.

I feel sorry for Dan the same way I feel sorry for people who grew up in New York City. Nothing will ever compare. It’s like that Woody Allen line “Anybody who lives anywhere else is just kidding themselves.”

How could any city, or how could any girl, ever live up to a golden memory of how great things use to be?

That’s why I’m grateful my first love was Susie and grateful I grew up inWorcester.Worcesterain’t that great.

I am deeply distrustful of people who claim to love Worcester, Ma. When asked what they think of the city, every true Worcester Native I know responds with the same dismissive but affectionate shrug and says some variation of “It is what it is.” (Nomination # 35 for new city slogan: Worcester; It Is What It Is.)

Worcester, like Susie, is hardworking and sexy in a dirty way and comfortable to be around during the holidays. But the city can be mean and mercurial and it will never be sophisticated.Worcesterwill be a “Destination City” the day Susie Mahoney is on the cover of Vogue Magazine.

I love them both, but I’m glad I will never spend the rest of my life wishing that wherever I’m living or whoever I’m dating could live up to what I once had.

Read more by STEVE SIDDLE

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