“Last time I saw Barb was when our kids were taking swimming lessons. Someone told me she had passed, and I wanted to tell you that I’m sorry.”


“Cancer, huh?”


“Still tough?”

“It can be, yes.”

“Hey, I’m sorry. And I’m sorry that I was so tough on you back in school. I could be a jerk sometimes.”

“You weren’t as bad as all that. Just young — and — okay — a bit of a jerk.”

“And you were a bit of a dweeb.”

“I guess.”

“But that doesn’t excuse me for being a jerk, and I’m sorry.”

“Water under the bridge. No hard feelings.”

“Really? Not any? Not even for sticking you in the butt with straight pins? Or, for flattening the tires on your Dad’s car the day you drove it to school?”


“Or, for calling you Joe Shmoe, probably a homo? And that everyone picked up on it and started calling you that, too.”

“No, not really.”

“You’re being married and all, I guess I was wrong about that. But, you never denied it. Why not?”

“Denying it seemed silly. Besides, Barb got even with you in the end so I figured we were square.”

“How’s that?”

“She told Verna Greene that, before she and I started dating, you and I used to do it.”

“Do what?”

“You know — it.”

“What! Why would she say something like that! I thought you’re not gay.”

“I’m not, but since you had already told most of the school that I was, we decided — what the heck — we’d go with it.”

“Could that be why Verna dumped me at the start of senior year?”

“Might be. We never bothered to set the record straight, so to speak, or tell her otherwise.”

Like what you read? Give Alan Gartenhaus a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.