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Full Circle: Hello Marylou, Goodbye Heart
A story about growing and up chasing dreams

Valentine’s Day always gave me heartburn. It started when I was 8 years old and a man of the world. I owned a pair of Converse All-Stars, a cabled cardigan and a big bottle of Wildroot Cream Oil. There was just no stopping me. Except for February.

When it came to women, there wasn’t much I didn’t know. I had seen Rita Hayworth in a movie. I had seen Marilyn Monroe on TV. There was nothing left to experience. Except for Marylou Sheehy. Marylou Sheehy had long blonde hair that flowed like spun gold. Here eyes were a shade of blue that didn’t exist in nature. Marylou Sheehy was, at age 8, the most beautiful girl in the world.

By the time she was 7, she had already won the Little Miss Mayfair contest, beating out a bevvy of also-rans on the stage of the Merben Theater. Sure, there was the dark and mysterious Dawn DeFrancisco and the tall and talented Lorraine Simpson. But, like every other boy in Miss Williams’ third grade class, I was in love with only one. Marylou Sheehy.

And then came Valentine’s Day. This was before forced friendship, where every kid in the class gives a card to every other kid in the class because we wouldn’t want someone to feel left out. No, this was real life. Boys gave cards to girls they liked and girls gave cards to boys they liked. Period.

The cards I gave had a picture of a little Apache brave and said, “Me go on warpath until get um Valentine.” No way a girl could turn that down.

On Valentine’s Day, just before the bell rang, Miss Williams handed out the little envelopes that would seal our fate. I tore mine open like a prisoner waiting for a note from the Governor. A puppy and some bowling pins. “You bowl me over –Lynn Dulebohn.” No, she was too tall. A matchbook with two matches holding hearts. “Let’s strike up a match, Valentine — Diane Pitts.” No, she was too short. What’s the deal here? Beverly Reda, Nancy Cobb, Jo Ann Knox. Almost every girl in the class. Except the only girl in the class. Marylou Sheehy. My stomach ached, my heart broke. I was devastated. I ran all the way home, swearing on everything that was holy that I’d never go back to school again. My life was over.

Now, move ahead with me 29 years. And three months and seven days. It’s 1983. I have spent a decade running my city’s magazine. I have now moved on to the greatest job in the world, other than playing first base for the Phillies. I am a big deal at Playboy. I go to meetings at the Mansion. I’m friendly with movie stars. I have an office in New York City the size of Bowlero Lanes.

For this, my 20th high school reunion, I take my best Armani suit from the closet. I shine my lizard loafers. And I drive my red Porsche to the Philmont Country Club. As I enter the ballroom, former classmates run toward me.

“Wow,” Carolyn Davenport says, “you’re really famous.”

“I saw you on TV,” gushes Lois Krepliak.

I was having a really nice time. And then the music died. In the silence, all heads turned as one to the ballroom entrance. And there she was. She wore a black dress, a sequined dress that was cut down to here. Her blonde hair glowed in the still of the night.

Okay, this was it. I had almost 30 years of confidence on my side. I stood up, tugged my tie tighter and walked straight toward her. Our eyes caught and, like magnets, pulled each other closer. Maybe there were second acts in life. My long lost dream was about to come true. And then, with all eyes on us, she spoke.

“Oh, hiya, Maury,” she said, “I hear youz got a job outta town.” Then she smiled. And she cracked her gum.

February 2013
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