And when Irish eyes are smiling,
Sure, they steal your heart away.
-When Irish Eyes Are Smiling
And then there’s Coheed.
I met Coheed when I was fifteen and we worked at the same camp. He was dating my co-counselor, Jamie, and she got him the job at the camp. That summer I worked with eight year old girls, wore my hair in long braids, and usually had a bandanna holding my bangs back. We had to wear these horrible, gigantic, gray camp t-shirts, which were so long on me that I looked like I never had pants or shorts on. Jamie was sixteen and had super long hair, parted in the middle, and huge, floppy breasts. She was slightly greasy and wanted to pursue a singing career instead of go to college. She was obsessed with and very possessive over Coheed. She thought that he was her soul mate and as Coheed puts it, “She had everything picked out; the kids’ names, the house blue prints, our wedding date-which, I think was March 25th of…last year? So, I guess we’re married!” (Incidentally, she IS getting married, and never did go to college because she was busy pursuing her music career). He was all she talked about, which made me feel like I knew him. I talked to him occasionally; he was a counselor with the little boys and we would see him a few times a day; we’d pass each other in the hall, his tall gait, head stooped, would wave to me and I’d smile back. He had longish, straight hair at the time, and these bright blue eyes (he still has the eyes); he’s over 6′, so to my 5′ he seemed brilliantly tall.
At the end of the summer we all traded screen names and promised to talk. I would occasionally talk to Jamie online, who let me know that Coheed seemed distant, and she was getting upset. I don’t really know how it started, but Coheed and I were talking every day. He made me laugh, he was sweet, and he distracted me from the horribly mean boys at my high school. I could go to school everyday and know that when I got home I could talk to my older (by a few months) friend and he’d be kind to me. I started dating someone, also a Jamie, and we got a real kick out of that. He gave me relationship advice and kept me feeling good about myself while my Jamie was off playing tennis. By that winter, Jamie and Coheed had broken up. I was in the middle of it, unbeknownest to Jamie, however. I was hearing it from both sides, but quickly realized that Coheed’s was the more calm and realistic side, so I stuck with him. We kept on talking and once summertime came around (and I was single) we decided to meet up. We met at the mall and immediately I knew things between us had changed from the last summer. We were flirty, affectionate, and silly. We must have kissed that night, I can’t even remember. All I know is that we quickly became close friends and then he went away for the summer. I missed him. Him? I thought to myself. Coheed, really? He sent me postcards from his travels and I tucked them away in my journal that I wrote in while at camp. Jamie was back at camp that summer too, but in a different group of kids. She had dyed her hair black (“Probably mourning me,” Coheed said recently) and barely hugged me hello. Did she know about Coheed and me? I wasn’t sure (I’m still not sure), she was a weird girl to start with.
For the next year we would hang out, usually at the mall, once or twice at his house. Coheed was the first person my mother let me drive with, and I could taste the freedom as he drove me home from one of our “non-dates.” He was unlike any boy that I had around me at the time; Coheed is calm, only speaks when it’s important, looks into peoples’ eyes when they speak, and has a worldly, yet secure sense about him. However, Coheed is a serial monogamist and soon had a girlfriend. We may have tried to hang out just as friends, but I can’t really remember. He went to college a year before me and was dating this girl. She didn’t understand our friendship and gave him trouble about me. I didn’t like that he didn’t stand up for me more and I pulled away.
That was five years ago.
Except for the occasional birthday wish, quick update on life and who we were dating-all conducted via IM or facebook, we hadn’t met up or seen each other. I wasn’t really upset about it. See, I never took us seriously. There was a time he wanted to date me and be serious, but I wanted to kiss many boys; I didn’t see the harm in us making out for hours on his couch, and then me having another date the next night. I was 18. I didn’t want to be tied down. I didn’t take him seriously.
For some reason, when Admiral Adama and I broke up, I felt I needed to let Coheed know. A few weeks ago I IMed him and simply said, “I’m single again.” His response of “whaaaaaaaat?” Sort of made me smile. He let me know he would be visiting the Island soon and could we have dinner to catch up. I knew he was single now too, but I was hesitant. I told him I’d think about it. However, after a horrible date (story to come), I knew I needed to see him. He IMed me and asked if I was up to going out to dinner and I decided on a greasy diner. That’s the beauty of Coheed: no dressing up, no makeup, no act, no having to retell someone my life story. I wore my favorite loose plaid shirt with jeans, loafers, and my hair up in a high pony tail. I looked cute, but not sexy. I told him I’d meet him in town and we would drive to the diner, since I have no internal map (which is true). I noticed him from blocks away. The tall Irish boy in the soccer jersey. Cute. We gave each other a terse hug and walked to his car. I held the GPS in my lap while he drove. Conversation was weird at first. I kept looking at him and thinking, “He’s cute, but what was it that won me over about him when I was 17?” Dinner was delicious (burger and fries for him, turkey club for me) and the laughter started to flow. He told me about his parents’ inn and I told him about my father’s brownstone. We traded relationship histories and career choices. The waiters came over to compliment him on his British soccer jersey. When the check came he grabbed it and smiled at me, “it’s a date.” We got back in the car and drove to get coffee back in my town. We got Tasti shakes (I paid; him, strawberry, me, peanut butter) and walked around town. We ended up sitting outside the bookstore, where we got coffee and continued talking. Somehow, time flew by. Somehow, the flirting escalated. He told me how much his mother loves me, and I told him I’d love to see the inn. He reminded me how much he wanted to date me in the past and I reminded him that back then, just like now, I wanted to play the field (and, like always, we had distance in the way). He had me laughing hysterically, my legs flung over the side of the chair, my hair frizzy from the Island humidity. We talked about my date from the previous night and what a disaster it was. We talked about traveling and families. He was listening, intently. I could tell he was almost a little nervous, like there was something missing, something he wanted to say, but couldn’t. He told me funny roommate stories, and took out his camera to show me some pictures, but instead took a picture of me. When he took the camera away from his face, it hit me. It could see it right there.
The kid adores me. And he has for the last eight years. Don’t ask me what it is, but there was something in his eyes. There was a certain tenderness to his voice. His bright blue Irish eyes looked up at me from his bowed head and they seemed to say, “You don’t even get it, do you?” Here I am, sitting there at the table, telling him that all I want is a calm, understanding, stable man and he’s sitting there, quietly listening, all the while knowing that it’s him I was describing.
I walked him back to his car and he told me to get in and he would drop me off at my sister’s restaurant. I got in and suddenly a strange feeling swept over me: I wanted him to kiss me. I wanted to scream, “Please kiss me and erase last night’s memory!” I wanted to quietly say, “Wait, don’t put the car in reverse, kiss me first.” I wanted to say, “If this is a date, then don’t I get a goodnight kiss?” But, I didn’t. I sat there, silent. We gave each other a quick glance and he backed the car up. When he dropped me off he went to hug me and we gave each other a quick peck on the lips. I got out and stood on the street waiting for J. He was at a red light and I told him to roll the window down. “You should have kissed me!” I said. In a very Coheed manner, he shrugged his shoulders, smiled, and said, “I know!” He drove off and I stood there, smiling. J. came up and said, “He looks good. He finally grew into himself.” Yeah, I thought, he did.
And, that’s the funny thing about Coheed. He makes me feel like a sixteen year old flirt and a twenty three year old adult simultaneously. He made me giggle like a teeny bopper as we walked down the streets, milkshakes in hand. He has a certain way of looking at you, which makes you know, he’s listening, he’s thinking about what you just said. He’s the type of guy that every girl should have in their life. Someone who knew them when they had braces, wore bandannas, and put too much acne medicine on one summer day and had a red face. He’s the old fashioned type of man that slips it in that he would love for you to be his date to his birthday party; he lets you know that you are his. I don’t know what the future holds for Coheed and me, but I do know that the boy who could make me laugh, even about me having lice, is now a man who can still make me laugh and makes me feel special. I don’t think there’s any harm in keeping him around.
Do you have a boy/man from your past that has come back from time to time? How do you handle it?