The Complete and Total Loser reads the death notices in his local paper every day. Today, he learned that a woman who was a year behind him in college died. Her name was Sally.
The Loser was stunned.
He went to her house in 1976 because her parents were holding an event for area high school seniors to learn more about the college, which is in Ohio, far from the Loser's suburban Philadelphia town. Sally's father went to the college and Sally would have been there but the Loser doesn't recall meeting her at that time.
He met her when he was a sophomore and she a freshman. The college was (and is still) a small one and kids from the same regions tended to find one another quickly even if they'd never met in high school. Sally was pretty, funny, smart and talented. She sang in the school's female a Capella group.
The Loser went to an all-boys school, Sally to an all-girls one. A clear memory the Loser has is of talking to Sally about his senior year prom (only seniors at these small private school had proms), which he did not attend because being a loser, he knew no girls, and never went to social events in high school. Sally told him she'd gone with a classmate of the Loser's named Frank.
Frank and the Loser had been childhood friends, largely because they lived in easy walking distance from one another. The boys were very different, though, and Frank and the Loser were merely acquaintances from third grade on.
Sally said she found Frank terribly dull and didn't enjoy the evening.
"Then why did you go with him?" the Loser said.
Sally looked puzzled by the question.
"He asked me," she said. "I'd have gone with you if you'd asked me."
The Loser was taken aback. He imagined himself at the prom, with Sally. He couldn't dance, but he'd sit around and talk with her, they'd make jokes, he'd tell her how nice she looked. He'd introduce her to teachers and feel almost like a normal boy.
She moved back and settled in the area after college. The Loser lived elsewhere for the next nine years. After he'd returned, he'd heard from a mutual friend that Sally hadn't married even though she'd wanted to very much. She kept her looks; the Loser saw her on television once as she was participating in a fund drive. She knew how to talk to men and had boyfriends in college who were invariably handsome, nice young men the Loser thought well of.
Although he never felt well enough about himself to get in touch with her, somehow the Loser always thought he'd see Sally again and perhaps even become friends.
It's too late now.