DEAR ABBY: No live-in mother-in-law, no boom-box neighbors; nevertheless, I've got a problem.
I was flying home from a European vacation recently, when I realized fate had plunked down beside me the answer to my prayers. A graduate of Brown, "Janis" had been working in an olive grove in Italy. She was everything: pretty, demure, Irish, intelligent, svelte, "with it." All that and a great sense of humor as well. We talked, we laughed, and during the movie our arms accidentally touched more than chance would dictate. We were falling in love at 37,000 feet as clouds raced past beneath us.
Too soon, the image on the screen told us we were nearing New York's Kennedy Airport and the end of our "summer romance." As we unloaded the overhead bins, Janis said, "I guess we won't be seeing each other again -- unless it's at the baggage carousel?" A definite opening. She looked stunned when I replied, "Have a nice life, Janis."
Abby, how could I have said such a stupid thing? What possessed me after God had gone to all that trouble setting up the right day, the right flight, the right seat, next to the right woman? I rationalize that maybe it was the geography. She in Seattle; I in L.A. More likely it was fear of rejection.
Balzac wrote something like: "No lady, no matter how chaste, is ever really offended by an overture of love." I keep forgetting that at crucial moments. And unlike streetcars, another Janis won't come along in 20 minutes.
It would be interesting to know, Abby, how many of your readers have lost a love, a "happily ever after," because they were too shy, too governed by propriety, to reveal what was in their hearts. Probably thousands. When you think about it, what's to lose? Really nothing compared with what's to gain. -- STILL KICKING MYSELF IN FRAZIER PARK, CALIF.
DEAR STILL KICKING: Please stop kicking yourself. It has happened to everybody. I'm sure many of my readers will agree.
P.S. If your airplane angel sees this letter and writes to me, I'll see what I can do.