The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Snippet of Life: Leona

There was a girl in my past. My distant past now, I guess. Leona was a sweet, pretty young lady. She reminded me of the actress, Capucine [link]. Or maybe Capucine reminded me of her, since I met Leona before I ever saw Capucine. Leona was a tragic figure in my life, a bittersweet memory. I met her when we were in the same class in 8th grade. She was too pretty for me, I thought. I thought that about a lot of girls back then. I was shy and lacking confidence around girls, like most boys of that age (13). We were friends is all.

We crossed paths several times a day at school; in the halls between classes, at lunch, in that one class we shared. We talked. She seemed sad most of the time, though that went away as we'd talk. Usually.

She came up to me in my Science class, before the bell rang. I was talking to Larry, a tall boy who was more than a year older than us, when she walked into the room. She didn't share that class with us but was headed for the Home-Ec class next door. She asked if either of us had a watch she could borrow. A strange request, I remember thinking, but decided she might need it to time some cooking. I didn't wear a watch, still don't, but Larry did and offered it to her. As she draped the too large band around her dainty wrist, I asked why she needed it.

She glanced at the watch and said with a smile, "I have less than 5 minutes to live."

My reply was to ask if she was being forced to taste her cooking in Home-Ec that day. She laughed and left the classroom just before the bell rang.

In less than 5 minutes, there was a commotion next door. You could hear the girls yelling and people running down the hall. Within 15 minutes, there were strangers running past the door to the Home Ec class... people in uniforms... ambulance attendants (as they were known then) with a gurney. Someone was hurt, injured. We thought there was some kind of accident in Home-Ec, maybe someone was burned or fell.

It turned out to be Leona. On her way out of the science class, she had grabbed a bottle of formaldehyde from the shelf by the door and drank it in the few short steps to her class. She lived. But she spent a week in the hospital recovering.

I found out months later why. She confided in me that Billy (a school "problem child") had "some pictures" of her and had been using them to coerce her into sex with him. I could believe it of Billy. He was a big kid with the reputation of being a bully, fully deserved. he had set fire to a portable classroom one weekend when he was in elementary school, it was rumored (also likely true), and had spent time at Marianna (a youth detention center in north Florida). I knew Billy pretty well and knew he was capable of what she told me.

I loved that girl... as much as a 13 year old boy can do that... but never told her. She professed her "love" for me, too, as we talked about her troubles. But I was a skinny little runt and couldn't protect her from Billy. I also knew Larry could protect her and that he was sweet on her. So I did the "right thing" and played Cupid, setting the two of them up.

Larry and Leona stayed together though I lost touch with both of them as we went to different high schools and began moving in different circles.

In 1971, after I had left the Navy and married my first wife, I moved back to Florida. back to my old "home town" of North Miami Beach. We were out shopping at a discount department store and ran into her running the cash register in the checkout lane we chose. She looked just as pretty, just as sweet and vulnerable as she did at 13. We didn't have much time to chat (there was a line behind us) but she said she and Larry had married after high school and divorced a couple of years later.

If I had not been married at that time... well, things might have turned out much differently for me, I suspect. One can never be sure, though. Just one of those "might have been"s that litter our pasts.


Tom Sightings said...

Jeez, quite a story. I'd never heard of Capucine, but now I'll have to go check her out by revisiting the old Pink Panther movies. (I was never a big Pink Panther fan as a kid, but I've watched one or two as an adult and found I liked them better.) Anyway, thanks for sharing your memory.

Douglas4517 said...

Try "North to Alaska" with John Wayne, Stewart Granger, Ernie Kovacs, and Fabian (and Capucine).

paul said...

I guess we all have those memories. Mine was a redhead I used to 'gaze upon from across the room' but never had the courage to approach while in school. After I joined the Navy and home on leave she phoned me up. I guess uniforms do make an impression. Anyway, that didn't go anywhere and when I ran into her after my first divorce many years later I was not ready to commit so we parted ways again. I think of her every time I hear Unanswered Prayers Lyrics here:

Douglas4517 said...

Did he write that song before or after he left his wife for Trisha Yearwood? :)

The thing is, I could have had Leona back in the day. Maybe I should have. Who knows what that change in my life would have resulted in?