Performer: Toad the Wet Sprocket
Songwriters: Todd Nichols, Glen Phillips
Original Release: Walk on the Ocean single
Definitive Version: None
One of the more awkward times in a burgeoning relationship is the first time that you use the L word—or, at least, that’s what it’s become.
I didn’t have any trouble saying it to Laurie, for reasons I’ll discuss at a later time. That isn’t really the awkward thing. What’s awkward, however, is when one person says it and the other person doesn’t. Consequently, it can put pressure on the other person.
I told Laurie, even after the first time I said it: I don’t want you to say it, at all, reflexively. Say it when you’re ready, if you’re ever ready. I made it a point to not say it a lot to keep pressure to a minimum, but I still said it.
I went to visit Laurie the first weekend in February, just before I was to leave for Cooperstown for the rest of the month. I don’t remember a lot of what we did. Laurie was understudying a show, so I went with her to see it that weekend.
On Saturday, we walked out to the lake, as was a usual activity. It was a cold, blustery gray winter day, but Laurie wanted to show me her favorite beach—Hollywood Beach. At the breakwater, the ice had broken up, so little icebergs floated in the waves, which were kicked up pretty good.
Laurie said she wanted to sit under one of the trees and look out over the lake. When we did, she said she had something she wanted to read. It was a poem, Eros by Hilda Doolittle. She had printed it on the back of a piece of paper that had one of her favorite paintings on it, The Abduction of Psyche, by Bouguereau. She had a black and white print of that painting over her dresser in her bedroom.
Anyway, Laurie began to read, and I could see her hand was shaking. She was very nervous as she read this treatise to the awareness and acknowledgement of love as I looked out over the gray lake water.
In retrospect, it should be obvious what was coming, but then I can be pretty oblivious. I had no idea what was coming, just that she wanted me to hear this poem. She had read to me a few things at various times already, so it wasn’t necessarily an unusual thing.
But I could hear her struggling, and I remembered a time many years before when I read a particular poem to someone that had an agenda behind it. I turned to give Laurie my full attention as she finished with the final words, “and I love you.”
I complimented her on her reading, and Laurie, with tears running down her face said the poem was for me. I took it and thanked her profusely, and then she said it again. Wait … what? I looked down at the poem and saw that it didn’t end with the words, “I love you.”
What an idiot, right? Just as I had decided earlier, as soon as Laurie realized that she felt it and wanted to say the words, she wanted the first time to be just right, not, say, after the throes of passion. As soon as I extracted my cranium from my rectum and realized what had just happened, I reacted a bit better.
Of course, I said the same words back to her, but there was nothing reflexive about it. She was wearing her long, pine-green wool coat and hat (neither of which she has any more), and my heart melted whatever cold was in the air that day. We both said it, and we both felt it—we were in love with each other.
Laurie and I had just turned a major corner in our relationship.
(With that, we have turned a corner on this here blog. We have one year to go to the No. 1 song. I still don’t know what it is, but I know it’s between three finalists.)