"You sure got what you asked for," I laughed.
"What about you? What were you looking for?"
"Ummm, me?" After her comment, I was embarrassed to answer. "Well, I really, really liked red hair."
I saw Steve for the first time when I as a little girl in fourth grade. Too young to even notice boys, right? Nope. Steve had the brightest, orangest hair I had ever seen on a human. He looked like a human torch. It was love at first sight.
My girlfriends and I had a game we would play at recess. As we sat on the sidewalk playing jacks, we would make up code names using the initials of our crush-of-the-moment. Then, we took turns seeing if we could guess each other's love interests.
I never had a crush on anyone, never had any initials to add to the game...just had to content myself with being totally awesome at picking up jacks on a single bounce of the ball. Until I met Steve.
"I have a name!" I announced gleefully as we sprawled on the sidewalk one afternoon during recess. "His initials are S.K.!"
"Sauerkraut Kisses," one girl laughed.
"Give us another hint," another girl coaxed.
"He has red hair," I confessed. And then the game fell completely apart.
It just so happened we had a classmate named Steve K------, who also had red hair. None of the girls knew my Steve, and they all assumed my crush was on this other fellow. Needless to say, the girls ignored my protestations that they had guessed the wrong boy, and an unholy amount of teasing and embarrassment followed.
It wasn't until many years later - eight or nine? - that my Steve asked me out on a date. In the meantime, I had dated many boys who did not have red hair. One of the first guys I dated inflicted so much emotional trauma that the relationship ended with my praying, "Lord, is there no one kind out there?"
Someone kind did eventually come along...but, lacking an appreciation for either Cardinals baseball or sports cars, I had nothing in common with the fellow. It didn't take long for the two of us to discover that we were boring each other to death!
Too many years and too many disastrous relationships later, I finally got a call from the boy a couple of farms over, the very first boy I'd ever had a crush on and the only boy I ever had any real interest in at all. He was kind! He was interesting! And he had the most amazing red hair.
|Folks, hair just doesn't get much redder than this!|
Almost thirty-three years later, I can confidently say that a fondness for red hair is not a strong foundation on which to build a relationship. Steve and I have had a hard go of it at times, and are still struggling to grow in this journey called marriage. This is hard work and has often been painful. (And it has turned us both gray-headed.)
But in the midst of all the work and mess and struggle, I haven't forgotten the red-headed boy I fell in love with way back in fourth grade. Just the thought of that flaming head full of hair, now faded to gray, still makes me smile.
He was the first boy who caught my eye. After all these years, I can honestly say that he is the only man I have ever wanted for my own.