I was only seventeen when I fell in love with a one-armed trumpet player. It didn’t take long. I met him. I fell in love. That quick. My older sister sang in a nightclub, and he played in the band. One Saturday night, she snuck me in. I didn’t drink. I was too young. I just sat in the booth, staring at this exotic trumpet player. Later I found out his name was Roy.

Of course, these were the days before decent prosthetics. He actually had a metal rod for an arm. For a hand, he had a hook. How could I resist?

Later, when my sister and her boyfriend came to sit in the booth, they brought Roy with them. He sat by me. After a while, under the table, he rested his hook on my knee and moved it up and down. I started laughing. It was so silly. What was he getting out of it? He couldn’t even feel anything! But I, of course, could feel the hook.

I was shy. I didn’t really know what to say. That didn’t stop him. He knew what to say, and he said it all. By 2:00 a.m., when we were leaving, he and I had a date for Monday. I couldn’t wait.

The date was weird. He had a blue Volkswagen bug, like Ted Bundy. He took me to his apartment. I was speechless in my shyness. I had never dated a boy with an apartment before. He brought out a bag of pot and asked me to roll a joint. He said he couldn’t do it very well because of his hook. He was trying to master the one-hand roll, but he hadn’t yet. So, I rolled a joint as if I knew what I was doing. We smoked it. Well, he did. I mostly coughed. He wanted to have sex, but I wouldn’t. I was only seventeen. I wasn’t ready for that.

The next day, I woke up early and called my best friend, Jill. I talked and talked and talked about this trumpet player with a hook. I told her of his deep brown eyes, his dark curly hair, and his perverted charm. I told her all about our weird date. I told her how I coughed and how I wouldn’t have sex and how I was so shy I hardly spoke. I told her we had another date the next Monday, his day off. I told her I was in love.   

Monday night came. He didn’t show. I was heartbroken. I called Jill, crying. She comforted me as only a best friend can. But my heart stayed broken.

The next morning, I received a dozen roses with a heartfelt apology note. I don’t remember exactly what the apology note said, but I remember the roses and how they smelled. I had never received roses from a boy before. I was in heaven.

I called Jill immediately to tell her. She didn’t answer. Oh, it must be her mother. She must have had the phone turned down because Jill’s father had migraines. I couldn’t wait. I would just drive over there.

Of course, I knew. I think even before I saw his blue Volkswagen bug parked in her driveway, I knew.

Everything started moving slowly. I was walking to the sliding glass door where I always went in, but I felt as if I were walking in deep water. My feet and legs were heavy. I turned my head and looked at the orange tree in the yard. It was there, when we were in the fourth grade, that Jill had taken me to tell me about sex. We had climbed up into the tree, as high as we could go, and she told me what the eff word meant. We laughed. We thought it was funny. We were so grossed out. Now, looking back, it seems as if I stared at that orange tree for a long time.

I got to the sliding glass door. I didn’t knock. I never did. I had practically lived there since I was nine. I slid it open, stepped in, then slid it closed behind me. I remember the sound it made when it shut, rubber against rubber. Jill’s cat came up to me, meowing. She wanted me to feed her. I didn’t. I just walked down the hallway and looked in Jill’s room.

Of course, there they were, in bed, together. I just stood there, wondering what you say when you find the boy you’re in love with in bed with your best friend. I couldn’t think of anything. I just turned around and walked back down the hall, out the sliding glass door, and got into my car. As I backed out, I was very careful not to hit the Volkswagen.

The next day, I received roses again. Now I was a little savvier about what getting roses could mean. I threw them away. I didn’t even read the note.

The funny thing was, I never said anything to Jill about what happened, and she never said anything to me. It just hung there between us. Again, I was heartbroken. But not about him. About her. About him I could suffer melodramatically, playing the betrayed heroine of a bad novel. But about her, it was real. It hurt. Bad.

When I went to work the next day at the local Pantry Pride and my friends asked me about my date, I did what I always do. I turned it into a funny story. I can do that. I can take almost anything and make it sound funny. They were laughing and laughing as I made it funnier and funnier. I laughed, too. Laughed and laughed.

A year went by. Eventually, Jill and I found ourselves speaking to one another. Whatever we talked about, we would never talk about what happened between my one-armed trumpet player and her. I never brought it up. I just pretended it never happened.

Jill eventually found her own boyfriend. He seemed like he could be someone’s dad: very quiet, calm, sometimes a little stern. He would rather read the newspaper by himself than have a few drinks with everyone else. When he was reading, he would raise his eyebrows and look at you over his glasses if you were making too much noise. They got engaged.

I married. Soon, I was pregnant. A week before my due date, Jill came to visit me. She was distraught. She, too, was pregnant. But not by her boyfriend-dad. By one of his fraternity brothers. She didn’t know what to do.

These were the days before abortion was universally legal. At the time, it was only legal in New York, which was pretty far away. But I could feel my baby moving and kicking, only a few days before birth. I couldn’t talk about abortion. So, I gave her some good advice, something I never would have done: Tell your mother. She will help you.

A week later, I had my baby girl. Jill came to see me in the hospital. She saw my baby, too. Then she told me that her mother had been wonderful and that everything had been taken care of. I didn’t ask for details. All I knew was that it felt funny having Jill look at my baby. I wouldn’t let her hold her. I lied and said I was funny that way with letting other people hold my baby.

Time went by. I had two children. Jill and her husband-dad had none. We never talked about that time when we were both pregnant at the same time. Eventually, we lost touch. Or to be honest, I just stopped contacting her and didn’t respond when she contacted me. But I never talked to her about why. I just didn’t know what to say. Not then, not now. But someday I will, and it will make for a very funny story.