Trouble was—she had me mesmerized from afar. All year long I could never even get up the nerve to speak withher. Looking back on that now, I wonder why I was so shy?
Throughout my childhood, I always wanted a Lionel electric train and a dog. I never got either one. In later years, dogs did become an important part of our family life, of course. The loving friendship of a dog can be a very precious thing.
On Halloween, kids in our neighborhood would sometimes head for what we thought was the “rich” section up around Laurelhurst Park to do our Trick or Treatin’. We figured we’d get more and better treats up there, although it never seemed to turn out that way. Nevertheless, I did it for two or three years in a row, because I liked to look at the big, impressive houses. Usually I would get a chance to peek inside the front doors, too.
The last time I did this, it was a frosty Halloween night. In my mind’s eye, I can see the place now. A large, two-story Italianate house set far back on the property. An expansive lawn curved down to an edge of shrubs and an ornate iron fence. The windows were ablaze with light and Halloween decorations. On the wide front porch, jack-o’-lanterns welcomed us.
The kid I was with, however, didn’t want to take the time to go up to that mansion with me. He said he could hit two or three houses to my one by heading on up the street. So I did it alone.
Clutching my paper sack half-loaded with goodies, I opened the gate, walked up the path, bounded up the steps and rang the bell.
After what seemed like several agonizing minutes, the great door opened wide. And there—oh my God— there she was—a bemused Nancy Kazarian, beautifully backlit by the lights of a huge chandelier hanging in the entry hallway.
I stood there in stunned silence. Embarrassed. Speechless. My face flushed beet-red, like a damned fool. All I could do was sort of stammer out “Happy Halloween.” Then I turned around, stumbled awkwardly down the steps, and headed for the street. I kicked myself all the way home.
At the end of the school term, Nancy Kazarian transferred to a private school. The next time our paths crossed was in Seattle, some 13 years later.