I subscribe to the Chicago Tribune. On Sundays, it includes Parade Magazine. Last Sunday a guy wrote an essay about how when he was a boy in high school, a junior I think, a girl asked him out to a turn-about dance. He can still remember the elegant parchment and calligraphy invitation she hand made for him. She was an attractive, nice girl, but for reasons he still doesn’t fully understand, he lied and said he had a conflict and refused to accept her invitation. She wasn’t heartbroken or anything, but as he looks back on it all these years later he can’t believe he was such a jerk, and he can’t understand why he just didn’t accept the invitation.
Boy, could I relate to that article. I have a whole list of similar things I did as a skinny, geeky boy that I would give anything if I could only go back and handle those situations as the mature, sensitive and confident adult I eventually became. I’ll share three examples. Predictably, they all involve girls.
1. Girl A, who attended a different high school, calls and invites me to her senior prom. I was caught completely off guard; I accepted at first, but after I hung up, I sort of freaked out about it, called her back and told her I had changed my mind. I can’t tell you how many times I have kicked myself for being such an idiot. There was no rational reason in the world for me not to accept that invitation.
2. Girl B was a casual high school friend. One day I saw that she was wearing a cross. I promptly gave her a self-righteous Mormon lecture, about how we don’t wear the instrument of Christ’s torture around our necks. Why, oh why would I say such a stupid thing? I’ve spent most of my life since kicking myself for being such a jerk, and desperately wishing I could have that moment over again.
3. I got home from my mission in mid-October 1979. I planned to go back to BYU Winter Semester, just after New Year’s in 1980. I spent the intervening months working at an automotive parts factory to earn money for school.
One day I received a letter in the mail from Girl C, who also worked at the factory. She expressed how much she liked me, and she would like to go out with me. I knew who she was; she was a cute, tall, slender girl, although I didn’t know her personally at all. Since I was only going to be there for a short time, I didn’t want to get involved with anyone back home, and it was easier for me to just kind of ignore the letter and pretend I had never received it. But in retrospect, this girl had the courage to express an interest in me, and the least I could have done was acknowledge her letter and explain my situation, rather than pretending it didn’t exist.
Are there things in your past that you’ve spent a lifetime obsessing about how poorly you handled them, and wishing that you could get a do over?