Her name was Delilah. If I close my eyes in a dimly lit room, I can still see her face: her eyes, widely spaced and her hair, ashen brown. In hindsight, I’m not entirely sure what it was about Delilah that captivated me so. When I close my eyes in a dimly lit room, I’m taken aback by her lack of beauty and social graces. But I loved her, as only a six year old can love another six year old.
I changed the words to many of the lite rock songs I’d heard over and over on my parents’ kitchen radio. When I sang those songs into the speaker of an old tape recorder my parents gave me for my fourth birthday, I replaced the sacred ‘her’, the eternal muse of mid-eighties lite rock, with Delilah’s immortal name.
When I went to the dentist, I chose the girly rings as my reward. When my first trip to the dentist ended, I explained to the assistant that I wanted the sapphire ring, not the skeleton ring, because I planned to give a sapphire to the woman I loved; she giggled as she put the cheap prize into my trembling hand.
By the time I’d worked up the bravery to actually speak to Delilah, I’d accumulated half a dozen rings of every imaginable variety of artificial gem, with the exception of diamond as I didn’t want to creep the hell out of she, the woman I loved. I put my collection of rings into a wooden box that had been passed down to my by my recently deceased grandfather.
Delilah and I first spoke one Saturday afternoon at the park. A bunch of kids, including her were in the thick of ‘follow the leader’ when I got there. I stood on the periphery of the playground, moving the small stones into triangular formations with my right foot as I waited to be invited to play along. It seemed like an eternity before one of my classmates invited me to play along.
“He’s not gonna play with us, is he?”
Delilah said that. I died a bit. But I followed the leader anyways, just to spite her.