(The following true story occurred about two years after my house fire incident recounted in “Dogs Can’t Talk”.)
How is it that you meet someone just momentarily in life, but her name becomes permanently etched in your memory? In my case, it depended on the name.
When I was thirteen, my Southern Ontario town built an arena at the end our our street. It was used for rock concerts and other activities, but from September through March it served skaters and hockey players. My buddies and I regularly took advantage of having an indoor ice facility so close to home.
For some reason (probably related to teeth), my parents didn’t want me to play organised hockey. But, I did enjoy skating — as long as I was allowed to turn left. I only skated counter-clockwise. Right turns were trickier for me.
With public skating you go round and round the rink. You notice the same people with each revolution. Some you lap; others pass you.
On one of these skates, I met a girl. Beautiful eyes above an enchanting smile. I can’t remember which of us took the initiative, but this young lady and I found ourselves skating side-by-side, laughing and talking. By the end of the session, we were skating around the big oval, holding hands.
Holding hands meant somethin’, baby.”John Mellencamp, from “Cherry Bomb”
Have you ever been introduced to someone, but being a little shy (and a lot self-conscious), you immediately forget his or her name? I didn’t want this to be a fleeting romantic moment, so when the public skating hour concluded, we drifted over to the boards together, and I said …
“Sorry, but would you tell me your name again? I didn’t really catch it the first time.”
“Mira” (pronounced mirra)
“Mira. I don’t know any Mira’s.”
“Oh … Mira Radatovic. Um, would you mind writing that down for me?”
And so, our magical skate was quickly coming to an end. Thinking we had nothing more to say, and negligently missing the opportunity to ask if I could see her again, Mira and I went our separate ways. Even today my tendency is to get caught in the moment, often falling short planning the immediate future.
Unlacing my skates alone on the wooden bench, and just remembering I’d come with a friend, I scanned the perimeter of the arena for my buddy. Nowhere in sight. Distracted by the fairer sex, I had totally ignored him.
Leaving the building (and in spite of tired ankles), I ran the almost quarter mile home — my heart pounding as much from the emotional experience as from the exercise.
After supper, Mira dominated my thoughts. My head told me (and my parents reminded me) I had homework, but my heart was winning the debate. Some guys might just move on, chalking up the encounter as an invigorating but isolated experience, but girl-crazy guys just can’t leave it at that.
My plan was to call her on the phone so I could then concentrate on my school work. But first, I needed to muster some courage.
In those days, we had phone books, and basically everyone was in them, unless you had an unlisted number. Mira had written down her last name, so I felt hopeful as I leafed through the book. “Gosh, how many Radatovic’s could there be in this little town, anyway?”
“Found it! Only one listing. Okay, I think I can do this!”
(dialing … ringing …. man with Eastern European accent answers) “Hello?”
“Hello. May I please speak to Mira?”
“Who is this?”
“This is Robert. I met Mira at the rink today.”
(Gruffly) “Please don’t call here anymore.”
(Click … dial tone sound)
“Whoa. Okay that was weird.” My heart was beating quickly again, but for different reasons.
That was it. End of the story. Never saw her again. Never braved another call to her home. Eventually got my homework done, but not very well.
While I’ve long forgotten her face, how can I ever forget her name? Mira Radatovic.
Blessings on your home,
As a father of three daughters, I can only now fully appreciate another father not wanting to entertain calls from a strange 13-year-old boy.