Holly moved from San Francisco to the East Bay and missed her old classmates. The smart kids and the popular kids had already established their cliques. She was an outsider. Holly had no close friends to share her excitement and concerns at Bishop O’Dowd High School, even though she was kind of cute, smart, and funny. Not being much of a joiner, the only organization she tried was glee club.
Holly didn’t date much. Boys already had their sights on the popular girls. She had to ask underclassmen to proms. During senior year, a new friend, Diane, set up Holly on a date. His name was Bobby Silva. He was a private in the army and a year older. He was short and cute. Their first date was a movie. He wanted to kiss afterward, but she’d have none of that so early in a relationship that she wasn’t sure she wanted. A week later he took her to dinner and taught her how to French kiss. She thought it was a sloppy thing to do and scrubbed her tongue as soon as she arrived home.
Within a couple of months, Bobby was deployed to Vietnam. Booby sent her a letter once he got there, and Holly thought it would be polite to reply. He kept the letters coming, and she wrote to him every week or so. He sent her photos of rice paddies, oxen and local people. She wrote him back in uninspired prose, because she just wasn’t into him.
Holly had given Bobby her senior high school photo. He hired a Vietnamese artist to copy the photo using pastel chalk. He shipped the framed artwork to her. Holly didn’t love the guy, but she liked the portrait.
Bobby came home about a year later. They met at a burger joint where he tried to give Holly a ring. She cried, realizing that maybe she had led him on. She called off future dates with Bobby.
Holly’s one consolation was knowing that she helped bring him home safely from the war.
Couldda Wouldda Shouldda
If Holly would’ve taken Bobby’s ring, she would’ve married a guy who worshiped her. Yes, she would be showered with gifts and adoration and would always get her way, but she would wonder for the rest of her life what it would have felt like to really be in love.