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November 15, 2009

True Love Comes in So Many Varieties

On this very quiet, saturated with grey and rainy Sunday, I went to the big annual booksale put on as a fundraiser for Salt Spring Community Education. I walked away with a bagful of books for $5 but I want to share with you a story I found in a book called True Love by Robert Fulghum because it made me feel so good after I read it.  The author simply asked people to tell him a short love story. Not one that they'd heard but one that they'd lived.  Here's one:

When I was a junior in college I took a course in the writing of D.H. Lawrence.  I know this sounds really stupid but I thought this was about Lawrence of Arabia, you know - the eccentric British desert warrior guy. I had seen the movie and I wanted to be him. I was not fully alert in college.

I went down to the local used book store to get everything they had. I was a little surprised by the titles: The Rainbow, Women in Love, Sons and Lovers and Lady Chatterley's Lover.  There was a side of Lawrence of Arabia I didn't know about. The clerk explained. Whoa. Bad news, but I had registered for the course and now I had the books and I needed the credits, so I was stuck, I went home to read.

Like  a lot of college students, I bought used books hoping someone else would have already underlined the important stuff. The Lawrence books I bought were thoroughly underlined, and when  I flipped through and read some of the paragraphs about making out, I was blown away. This was really hot stuff. To hell with the other Lawrence and the desert, this Lawrence was my kind of guy. And, I figured that any girls who were taking this course would be my kind of girls.

All the books I bought had the same female name in the front. I figured this girl must have taken the course and then sold the books. She really knew what to underline - not only the juicy parts, but the really beautiful passages that were about love, not just sex.  I looked her name up in the telephone book and she was there. I figured I'd just call her up and see what happened. I was hoping for anything from a date to copies of the papers she had written. College guys play all the angles.

I called her up, introduced myself and told her what I wanted. Shoa again. She was not a girl but a retired college professor of English literature. These books were extras she had sold when she moved to a smaller apartment. She laughed and said she would be glad to have a date with me and she would explain about Lawrence and tell me how to pass the course.

We liked each other right away. She lived alone and her eyes were failing. She said if I would drive her to the grocery store once a week, she would tutor me in Lawrence. During that semester she woke me up about love and sexuality and women. I spent a lot of time with her. I'm a better man because of her. A long time later I told her that if she had been 20 instead of 70 I would have asked her to marry me. She said she would have accepted.

She's dead now. I still have her books and her wisdom and her kind of love. I got an A in the course too.

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