I doubt Socrates really said, “The hottest love has the coldest end.” During the past 2,500 years, something surely was lost in translation by Plato. Regardless, I’m sure many of us can agree with the logic.

I recall my first “hottest love.” I was 16 when I first noticed the athletic guy jogging along the road by our house.

We had moved to the east-end neighborhood recently. I didn’t know many people, and fewer knew me. I kept to myself, standing aloof at the bus stop whenever my old car wouldn’t start. Dressed in Wrangler jeans and smoking Marlboros, I daunted a lot of the kids in suburbia.

Why the attitude? My mother relocated us after my junior year at a scary inner-city high school, figuring I deserved better for my senior year. I had skipped many, many days the year before, hanging out in the parking lot or leaving school entirely. It’s not that I was bad or dumb; I preferred taking my chances elsewhere. So, I joined a clique and we would pool our lunch money, buy gas and drive to the beach or the mountains or an empty house, hanging out until 3.

It was a bad and dangerous school. I gained little intellectually, and even less socially.

A year later, now enrolled in the “rich kids” school, I was again an outcast. The few students I talked to were hanging out in the smoking area. I sat in the back of every class and doodled. Still, I was intelligent enough to carry Bs and Cs, without studying or participating.

It was a long thaw and the one thing that finally melted the ice was John. He’s the good-looking guy jogging down my street. Remember?

So back to John, shirtless and in cutoffs jogging down the road. My sister had noticed him a couple of times and watched him. I decided it was time for us to meet, so I sic’ed my dog on him. It was laughable, really, which is why I did it. Tippy was a small shaggy mutt, most likely some kind of Shih Tzu or poodle mix, and she loved to chase squirrels. I opened the door and told her the jogger was a “squirrel — go get ’em” — and she did.

He stopped because he didn’t want the little dog to chase him into the road, and turned around to look for the owner. That was my cue to step outside, smile, apologize and whistle for the dog. I snapped my fingers and pointed to the ground and my dog returned to sit at my feet. I was counting on him being impressed. He was.

We talked a little and he asked about our family. I wasn’t flirting because at first, I thought I might toss him to my sister. I wasn’t hard up for dates, and she was in a dry spell. I invited him in for a Coke, and he accepted. My sister was at the stove, stirring a pot of her notorious chili. She offered John a bowl and again he accepted.

Like I said, at first I wasn’t interested in John for myself. But my heart melted as he gamely ate that bowl of chili, tears streaming down his face. I told you her chili was notorious. I wouldn’t eat it. I like brave, adventurous guys.

Despite my sister’s interest in John, I decided to keep him. Come to think of it, this was the second guy I had taken from her. That may explain some things … but back to the story and how the “hottest love” had the cold end.

John and I went out that summer and generally ended up necking in the car. Hot? Oh yeah! We were having a blast with each other, but 16, despite the fireworks, I knew I didn’t want a deeper relationship.

He was a handsome college football player who had graduated from my new high school the year before, which meant I became popular by association. Other perks included his ability to play the banjo (Rocky Top!) and he worked for Frito Lay during the summer (free Doritos!), but he just wasn’t my type.

Soon, I let him go. It was a fun romance but by the time the next spring had rolled around, I was looking forward to graduation and the “real world” and he wasn’t part of it.

I never regretted my relationship with John. He was sweet and sexy and a great diversion. Dating him helped me open up to the students at my new school and helped me make new friends. He was perfect for the transition from my lonely, frightened junior year at an inner-city school with gangs and riots, to my smug and superior senior year at the preppie school. The best part was, I only skipped 30 days that year. Already my life had improved.

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Hottest Love by Robin Van Auken is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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