The Son of a Preacher Man

Missed opportunities.

We all have them. Awkward, sidelong glances on the bus. Inadvertently reaching for the same head of lettuce at the grocery store. Or sometimes these connections go even deeper. That really close friend you’ve had for years. The one that watched chick flicks with you. Sometimes you snuggle. Sometimes you don’t. But you never cross that line. You know, that line.

So, what do we do with all of these chances we get? Well, we blog about them I guess.

Okay, so he wasn’t really the son of a preacher man, but he was very religious. Like, really religious. I met him my first week of college at an LGBT mixer. He had done like, mission work in Africa, or something. So I considered him to be well traveled. He was also a senior, and I was a freshman, which was a kind of instant turn-on for me.

We went on our first date to an Applebee’s. Yes. Applebee’s. But, in Small Town, USA where I went to school, Applebee’s was nearly considered fine dining, second only to our Chili’s. I mean, I pretty well knew that our budding relationship was over before we sat down, but I enjoyed my pre-microwaved fettuccini alfredo, and indulged him in joining him back in his dorm room to watch TV and talk. Yes. Talk. Okay, so we made out a little, but we mostly talked.

In addition to being super-closety, he was also ready for this, like, super strong commitment that as a new college student who was ready to explore- um- campus, I just couldn’t offer. But there were lots of reasons I didn’t think we could or should be together. Our religious views didn’t really sync. He made it very clear that he was struggling coming out of the closet, and that can make for very dangerous dating grounds. And finally, he may or may not have intimated that he had spent some time in a regional mental establishment for anger management issues. However, the latter was the least of my concerns.

It was really kind of a conflicting situation for me. He was super handsome, like argyle and button-downs, handsome. And wanted a career in politics. And like, grown-up stuff. But, I was 18 (or 19?), and wanted to go to bars and parties, and make out with strangers. So, ultimately, I let him down easy. I told him I had just come out of a relationship, and still had ex-boyfriend-baggage. A lie, of course. Dumb. I know.

Weirdly enough, though, I continued to watch him for the rest of my college years. I watched him grow into this self-confidant man, and gay rights activist. Something that I really admired. I often wondered, you know, what would have happened if we had actually dated. Would he have come out of the closet? Would I have been the Jackie O. to his Kennedy? Would I have been the victim of his latent anger management issues? Who’s to say.

I tried a few times over the years to get back in contact with him, but my attempts were met with either one- or two-word responses, or sometimes no response at all. Second chances. Missed opportunities. Whatever. I wouldn’t say that he’s the one-that-got-away, but he’s definitely the one-that-will-always-make-me-wonder.


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