Driving home from the school drop off on Tuesday, a song comes on the radio. It’s a cheesey 80’s love song, called ‘Hold On To The Night’ by Richard Marx.

The memory flood began. This is about Pukey.

Let me explain. Pukey was a boy I used to know. He had a last name that was difficult to pronounce, so a friend of ours was joking one day and said ‘How do you pronounce that? PukeyBar?’

It stuck. Then it got shortened to Pukey. I asked him once if it bothered him, and he said ‘No.’ I don’t know if I believed him.

Anyway….Pukey was a fun, edgy guy. Very different from my little Bubble of Protection household. His Bubble of Protection had been burst many years earlier, in his childhood.

He had a crush on me.

Now, I write that down and looks and feels ridiculous. But, he did. He liked me. He admitted to me once that he parked outside my house one evening hoping to catch a glimpse of me in one of our windows. And before your mind goes THERE – there wasn’t any way possible to see any bedroom or bathroom shots. It would have been walking by the dining room window. To most people, that would be the height of creepy…stalker-city. But not from him, for some strange reason.

I was afraid of him. Now, I write that down, and it looks and feels even more ridiculous. I think it was a mix of reasons – he was different, my peers thought he was a little wierd – and honestly – he was a tad funky – and I thought my parents would flip. I had “Good Girl” Syndrome. Don’t piss off your parents. Play it safe.

What strikes me, looking back on my interactions with him, was that he made no pretense about his feelings, he played no games with me, he just liked me. He told me once “If you want to be friends, that’s fine. At least it’s something.”

How many times in a girl’s/woman’s life does that happen?

By the time I was a senior, I’d given in a little. A few make-out sessions (worth my while, believe me. He was *ahem* talented.) But for some strange reason I could never let myself give in to being in a relationship with him. Something held me back. I went away to college the summer that the cheesey Richard Marx song came out, and we had to part company. Something deep inside me knew that we were just too different. Maybe there was something inside of me that wanted to keep him exactly as he was – my admirer.

I thought about him periodically throughout the years. Wondered where he was, what he was doing, and most of all….what if.

When in your life does a boy just flat out say “I like you, and I want you to like me” without all the games and crap that goes along with being a teenager – hell – an adult? When in a girl’s life does someone admire you so much that they wait outside your house hoping to catch just a glimpse of you?

Pukey died in 2005. I hadn’t spoken to him in 16 years, but knowing he wasn’t in the world anymore, affected me more than I could have possibly have anticipated.

What if…..

I remember you, Jon. Maybe someday I’ll catch a glimpse of you in the window.

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