ShareThis Page
Tom Purcell

Tom Purcell: We need to relearn art of romance

| Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, 9:00 p.m.

I still have no idea why Laura Lindsey liked me, but she did.

It happened during my sixth-grade year in the spring of 1974, when she transferred to our school.

Laura had grace and style and was instantly embraced by the popular girls.

She was out of my league, but I pursued her nonetheless.

Trying to impress her one day while playing “keep-away” during recess, I grabbed the ball and ran near her.

I didn't know it then, but thousands of years of DNA were at work — the same primitive energies that caused cavemen to club each other as cavewomen looked on.

Laura looked at me. For a moment, our eyes locked — I felt a spark in the middle of my heart.

Laura Lindsey liked me! I wanted to buy her something romantic — which was a problem.

First, everything I knew about romance, I'd learned from the fathers in my neighborhood, one of whom bought his wife snow tires for Valentine's Day.

Second, I was broke. All I could afford was candy.

I got a quarter out of my piggy bank and rode my bike to a nearby Mom-and-Pop convenience store. I eyed the candy display like a jeweler seeking the finest cut of diamond.

After passing over the more costly fare — I almost bought a Mallo Cup but worried I'd eat it before giving it to her — I settled on a Big Buddy, a flat stick of bubble gum that only cost a nickel.

I soon found myself sitting in my sixth-grade classroom, pen in hand, trying to compose the perfect words to write on that flat stick of gum's wrapper.

After several edits, I settled on this gem: “Laura, here's something sweet for somebody sweet.”

I set the gum on her desk and rode home.

I couldn't sleep that night, certain I'd made a mistake — certain I'd be rejected the following morning.

What happened next was worse.

You see, my first act of romance was not met with ridicule, but with Laura's euphoria and gratitude.

As older generations might say, “I chased her until she caught me!”

I was a wreck.

In the span of 15 hours, my emotional state went from puppy love to doubt to utter terror.

I dodged Laura the rest of that day, the rest of that week and all the way until school let out.

I dodged her the first week of summer by diving under Mr. Bennett's forsythia shrubs as she rode her bike down my street.

To be sure, practicing the art of romance has never been for the faint of heart.

But why are we making it harder?

We pretend there are no differences between men and women, when the truth is, males and females are incredibly poor at understanding what the other is thinking — at least until we get to know each other well.

We pretend that “hooking up” is fine and dandy, then wonder why there is so much confusion and hurt as we jump from one short-lived relationship to another.

We pretend we don't admire the romance older generations mastered as they slow-danced, shared handwritten notes and enjoyed an ever-deepening love through many acts of kindness over many years of marriage.

We desperately need to relearn the art of romance — especially a clumsy oaf like me.

In any event, I grew to miss Laura Lindsey over that summer. I hoped to pick up where we left off in the fall.

But before school resumed, Timmy Schmidt swiped her from me.

My first girlfriend dumped me, and I was the last to find out about it.

Tom Purcell, a freelance writer, lives in Library. His books include “Misadventures of a 1970s Childhood” and “Wicked Is the Whiskey,” a Sean McClanahan mystery. Visit him on the web at Email him at:

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me