One girl had seen the whole exchange with Charlie but didn’t know what was said. She assumed he’d said something to hurt my feelings and walked out after me. “Julie? Are you all right?
”Yes,” I said. “I’m fine.”
I don’t know what kind of look I had on my face, but she decided not to ask me any more questions. Instead she turned around and headed in Charlie’s direction.
I paced around outside until my heart quit hammering. I went back inside and saw Charlie standing off to the side talking to another girl. He had his back to me and didn’t know I could hear him and her talking.
I heard something along the lines of “I don’t believe this.” A few more words I couldn’t understand, then “You’re going to hurt her feelings.”
I heard him say, “I know.”
On one level I thought it served him right all those years he’d spent teasing me like that for me to just for once decide to take him at his word. On another, I recognized I’d put him in a horrible position and wondered idly how he was going to get out of it. On yet another, I hoped he really did mean to go through with it just because he had said so. I should have known better, and somewhere in my head I did. So I wasn’t very surprised when after his performance he came up to me and said, ”Can I talk to you for a second?”
I turned and looked at him expectantly. He came up with some horrible, manufactured story at how he’d already asked someone else and she was expecting to go with him and he hoped I understood. His face was red and his hands were shaking. I don’t know what he expected me to do, but I said. “That’s all right. I understand.”
You could see the relief in his face. “I knew you would,” he said.
I held it together through the rest of the recital even though I knew my adventure with Charlie was all the talk backstage. Then I went home and cried and still didn’t understand why.
Once he graduated, the fascination wore off and I was back to my normal self. But the episode bothered me a lot. How could I have been so crazy for him? What had happened to me?