The Summer of 1969: The Hurt

By Richard Mabey Jr.


Our true-life story so far: It is now the middle of July of 1969. I have begun taking swimming lessons at the Paterson YMCA. My swimming instructor, Lisa Ann, is a very pretty girl who had just completed her freshman year at Paterson State College. Lisa Ann is very kind to me. I have become quite smitten with her. I have just met Robbie, Lisa Ann’s boyfriend. He is crude, rude and obnoxious to Lisa Ann. The two of them have just left the indoor swimming pool area and I sit alone on the old, wooden bench beside the pool.  


An empty, sad, hollow feeling overflowed in the chambers of my heart, as I watched Lisa Ann and her boyfriend, Robbie leave the indoor swimming pool area at the Paterson YMCA. I felt such a deep ache that seemed to invade the very marrow of every bone in my body. The deep hurt swam its way through my arteries and veins.


My heart sank, the hurt flowed through every nook and cranny of my inner being. It wasn’t so much that lovely Lisa Ann had a boyfriend. But rather that he treated her so poorly and with such utter disrespect. There was a gap that stood between Lisa Ann and myself. This gap was wider than the Grand Canyon. I was 15 and Lisa Ann was 19. I had just finished my sophomore year of high school and Lisa Ann had just finished her freshman year at Paterson State College.


I simply adored Lisa Ann. She was my kind and patient swimming instructor. She believed in me. When my former Swimming Merit Badge Instructor mocked and ridiculed me, I thought that I would never, ever be a good enough swimmer to earn the Swimming Merit Badge. And, if I was not able to earn the Swimming Merit Badge, I could never be an Eagle Scout. Something that was near and dear to my heart.


It was about two weeks ago that I managed to get the nerve to ask Lisa Ann to my church’s Youth Group ice cream social. Lisa Ann most kindly and gently turned me down. Of course, that was before I knew that Lisa Ann had a boyfriend.


It was now the middle of July. I sat alone on the old, splintery, wooden bench that stood beside the long side of the indoor swimming pool. The loneliness of this moment weighed heavily on my heart, mind and soul. I came close to crying. I don’t think I would have felt so bad if Lisa Ann’s boyfriend treated her with the respect and kindness that she so rightly deserved.


I knew I had to walk to the locker room and get dressed. My mom would soon be waiting for me, outside the big YMCA in Paterson. I suddenly came to the deep realization that I was very much in love with Lisa Ann. But I knew I would never hold her hand. Never go on a date to see a movie with her. I would never write her poetry. I would never go for long walks with her. To Lisa Ann, I was just one of her students.


I walked to the door of the men’s locker room. I got dressed. I sat on the wooden bench inside the locker room. Without warning, my tears began to flow. I took out my handkerchief from my denim pocket. I told myself that I had to get myself together. Mom would be waiting for me, in the parking lot.


I wiped the tears from my cheeks. Walked out of the men’s locker room. Walked down the hallway to the big front door of the Paterson YMCA. Outside I looked to the parking lot. There was our family station wagon. Mom was there, waiting for me.


To be continued.


Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He can be reached at Please place the wording “My Life Weekly” in the subject line.



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