that only grows in the early spring—
“If a man would give all the substance of his house for love,
it would utterly be contemned”— Song of Solomon 8:7
“I’m . . . I’m, sorry to bother you,’ he apologized, shifting his weight from one foot to the other. “I know it’s late . . . and if you’re busy, I could . . . I know you’re busy. Perhaps, I could come back another time?’
“Come in,’ said the other student reassuringly. “My roommate is gone, and besides, I need a break from studying anyway.”
A smile blossomed across his distraught face, and encouraged, he tried once more, “ I, un, I think it’s a nice day, don’t you? And did you know the Russians helped to free the whales that were stuck in the ice? Maybe we’re wrong about the Russians.”
He paused and looked about the room nervously, and then, spoke in a whisper, “I’m in love, and I don’t know what to do. I’ve never felt this way before, never.’
“Well, love can be very wonderful. Tell me more. Does she know how you feel? Can you communicate?
“I don’t know,” he said, and his face winced in pain as if he had been hit by some invisible fist. “I don’t know, but I think I’ve really messed things up. But I couldn’t stand it! Right in front of her roommate, I did it!”
“I took her hand and kissed it gently, and then, she became angry.”
His voice broke, and he almost began to cry. “You know about girls,” he said, closing his eyes tightly and shaking his head in self-contempt. “What can I do now? How am I suppose to act? Why did I go and make a fool of myself? Why? Why?”
“Wait, wait, wait . . . Kissing a girl’s hand is hardly the unpardonable sin, but you may have embarrassed her. Did you grab anything else?”
“I’m glad she can walk, and if she can chew gum at the same time, maybe there’s hope. Does she have a sense of humor?”
“She has a nice smile, and I saw her laugh once. Her face radiated. Oh, it was like a poem!’
“Forget the poetry. If you like this girl, stop making such an idiot of yourself and her. Just be her friend.”
“Be her friend?” he shrieked incredulously. “That’s all! There’s no profound and hidden secret other than that?”
“Yes, that’s all. And if and when she’s ready for you to kiss her, she’ll let you know.”
“How, how, will I know?”
“This may come as a shock, but girls are quite human. They even belch and can have bad breath on occasion. Such is what makes them wonderful and approachable. They’re just as self-conscious and imperfect as we are. So, be her friend, and if you can do it genuinely, she may later reward you with her heart. But for now, just be yourself. For now, prose before poetry and friendship before love. It’s a mathematical axiom.”
He stared straight ahead, mouth open incredulously as if he had just heard the most profound words ever spoken. He left softly, trembling in disbelief and delight. Love is a many-splendored thing.
Wording for title taken from opening lyrics of the movie, Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing.
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