The Man Who Loved Me First
The man who loved me first was as big as Andre the Giant. You know, the huge guy in "The Princess Bride." His name was Francis. It was a family name but I was the only one who knew it. Everyone else called him Frank.
Frank lost a whole lotta weight one summer. Afterward, he still weighed three of me. Well, maybe two and a half, but when you're 6'4," that kind of weight's okay. I always wondered if he went on that diet for me.
Frank was from the bottom of the state. His daddy was rich from things that came from the earth but you'd never know it. Frank wore Wranglers and flannel shirts like the rest of the guys.
I knew he loved me. I could see it when I looked in his eyes, even though I'd never been loved before. His eyes were the color of God's green velvet. You know, moss. And when he looked at me, the greeny brown color would darken, like the forest when the sun goes down.
I also knew he loved me 'cause he wouldn't step back from a hug when I did. When someone that big holds you, you can't help but feel safe. Like when you play Hide 'n Seek, and you're behind a refrigerator, and you know they'll never find you. They'll have to yell, "Olly, Olly, in come free."
Frank loved me even though I baby powdered his dorm room one afternoon in October. I'd been T.G.I.F.'ing in Sunnyside and I felt ornery, like I had a bee in my bonnet or somethin.'
Frank always ran a fan in his room. Big people seem to be warmer than the rest of us. I skipped down the hall in my cut-off jean shorts and my I ♥
t-shirt. I had an open container of Johnson & Johnson baby powder in my hand. When I ran by the common room, Stu, the photography major who sounded like a Sleestak when he breathed, said, "Here comes trouble." He had that right. New York
Frank left his door unlocked most of the time. I think he did that in case I stopped by. And I did, quite often, just to see his moss eyes go dark. I flung the door open and shrieked, "Boo!" Quick like a bunny, I shook a ton of baby powder into the fan wind. Then I ran.
From my room six doors down and 'round the corner, I heard the roar. It sounded like the Wabash Cannonball.
Frank's hair looked like an old man's at dinner that night. He heard me fuss that all the Drumsticks were gone out of the ice cream freezer. He leaned across the table and handed me his.
"I only took one bite."
I looked in his brownish green eyes and felt bad. I shouldn't have baby powdered a guy like him. A guy who'd give someone like me the last Drumstick in the dining hall.
I'd always wanted to be loved. All my high school girlfriends had been loved lots of times, but not me. My daddy had a habit of signing his letters with luv, not love. I used to wonder if that was the same thing.
Guys didn't seem to know that inside, I was the kind of girl who'd sing, "Stand by Your Man" even though I didn't care much for country music. Thing is, I had a hunch me and Cyndi Lauper had been separated at birth. And one time, I almost won a Madonna-Look-Alike contest. I was in my Granny's black cotton, zip up the front, strapless, whale-boned slip and everything. I even had on 38 black rubber bracelets between both my arms. In the end though, a guy won. He had the frat-boy-crossdressing-is-hilarious factor working for him.
Frank gave me a lift-you-off-the-ground hug after I lost, and he bought me a beer. He wouldn't let me open it with my teeth like I usually did. He pulled a Swiss Army knife out of his Wrangler's. It had a bottle opener on it. I thought that was pretty cool.
I sniffed. "Thanks."
I knew Frank was a good man, even though he wasn't 21 yet. His face was serious more often than not and I was pretty sure that meant he'd take good care of me. To me, his arms, his bigness, felt safer than a castle, not that I'd been in one. But one day, I stopped visiting Frank in his dorm room. See, in my woman's heart, I knew he'd be a 'til death do us part kinda man. Just not mine.