When an old flame comes calling

If there was a list of “top 10 wonderings” (and there may be), I’d wager that wondering about one’s old flame ranks pretty high. However, my hypothesis does have one major flaw: Some couples bypass the old flame drama by finding their one true love early on in life.

A dear friend knew, at the tender age of 5, that she would marry her next-door neighbor. The lucky couple will celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary in January.

I also know couples who met while in high school. It beats me how they were able to distinguish between a teenage crush and mature, enduring love, but they did.

Others, like yours truly, had a few “flames” before settling down — and one of mine came a-lookin’ for me.

My first husband had been dead for about a year and I was not running with the merry widow crowd. One evening, while eating my solitary dinner, the phone rang.

“Hello,” I said.

“Hello back.” A long silence … then, “So, you’re alone?”

Spine-tingling fear turned my knees into jelly. Then I heard, “Ceil, please don’t hang up, it’s Mike.”


“Me, Mike … you forgot?”

Bingo! A flash of recognition. The spine-tingling fear turned into a jolt of electricity that coursed through my body.
“Sorry about your husband. Did you get my condolence card?”

Stunned, I answered, “Yes, thank you.” (I truly didn’t remember.)

Then he repeated, “So you’re alone?”

Now, I was silent.

He laughed (same laugh), and said, “I’m probably scaring you.”

Mike took a deep breath, exhaled and continued, “If you’re not with anyone, would you like to go to dinner?”
Jeez, I thought, if Mike was trying to score points, he was failing miserably. Then I looked at my unappetizing dinner and surprised myself by answering, “Sure, why not.”

We agreed to meet the following Saturday evening at a lovely restaurant.

I felt anxious about the whole deal. I wondered what Mike would think of me. I mean, really, we hadn’t seen each other in decades. I pictured him clearly in my mind’s eye: drop-dead handsome (he resembled Elvis), astride his Harley, sporting a DA haircut and wearing his customary black leather jacket.

Fast-forward to Saturday night.

I entered the dimly lit restaurant, with sweaty palms and a racing heart. I scanned the dining room for Mike but didn’t see anyone who resembled him. However, I did notice a plump almost bald guy wearing a checkered sports jacket walking toward me.

I blinked twice. When he reached me (my feet were glued to the floor), I said, “Mike?”

During dinner, we caught up with each other’s lives. I was shocked to learn that Mike had given up his Harley for a Honda Civic. Although the look-back was good for a few laughs, by dessert, our conversation had stalled.

Driving home, I wondered what in the world I saw in him, besides his good looks and his Harley. Our lives took us along divergent roads, rendering the road to “back then” impassable.

It wasn’t written in the stars for Mike and me. Yet I know two gals who used social networking sites and reconnected with their old flames. They picked up where they left off and are now happier for it.

Other folks are plain curious, and I get it. However, if the “itch” is not ignored, and folks go a-lookin’ where they shouldn’t be lookin’, the result may be catastrophic.

Wondering about one’s old flame is less about that person and more about finding our lost youth. We yearn to rekindle long-forgotten feelings and connect to a time when love was magical.

Ah, but here’s the magical part: Old flames never age; our memories have frozen them in time.

I prefer to remember Mike astride his Harley and perhaps Mike thinks of the long-haired gal riding on the back of his bike, laughing like there was no tomorrow.

Only there was.

Ms. Iannelli is a resident of Jamesport.