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Location: Midwest, United States

Monday, February 13, 2006


Last week, an acquaintance wrote that she found my gullibility exasperating. I’ve been thinking about her comment ever since. The definition of gullible is “easily duped: tending to trust and believe people, and therefore easily tricked or deceived.” She’s right, of course. I am gullible.

My life’s story verily overflows with examples of my gullibility. Let me tell you about my high school sweetheart.

I was in 7th grade when I first encountered this comely 6th-grader. She was tall, athletic, big-breasted and warm-hearted. I had always been painfully shy, more so in the company of girls. Despite fearsome, near-crippling trepidation, I tried my best to capture her attention and imagination. I would carry her books, we would jostle, I would try to entertain and charm and finally came to know that she had, in fact, been charmed…and I was smitten.

She matured into an “Earth Mother,” a woman of boundless energy and appetite. Barefoot and bra-less more often than not, she showered love on all living things. Her constant laughter singing in my ears, she pressed me close and nurtured me. She reveled in life and I in her. We became lovers. I’ve come to believe that our initial sexual experiences define our future proclivities. We were languorous, but passionate lovers. We explored every erotic dimension, experimented endlessly. Lovemaking took hours, often days. We exhausted ourselves every chance we could. I came to know her body much better than my own. I loved every pore, every freckle. I adored her. I sincerely believe that, had it ever come to that, I would have sacrificed my life for her (sigh...there's that doleful past tense again).

Those were halcyon days. A few years passed in dizzying glory. I showered her with gifts at every opportunity. I strove to demonstrate that she was my world. And then, a few days after Christmas…after I had stuffed her stocking full…she informed me that she had found another. My world disintegrated in pain and anguish. I was devastated, as only a teen-ager can be devastated by lost love. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I wandered city streets aimlessly through the longest, darkest winter of my life. To this day, I remain an insomniac.

Then came spring, and she came back. My mind was haunted by the leaving, but my heart rejoiced. I loved her in my very marrow. The passion was as overwhelming as always, but accompanied now by a certain loss of innocence. Turbulent winds engulfed us. Another Christmas came, another post-holiday departure. A pattern began to form. She would leave either after Christmas, or her birthday (in early February), or after Valentine’s Day. My winters were always the coldest on record. It wasn’t just the loss of love, the doors closed in my face, the unanswered letters. There was the every-growing feeling that I had been duped again and again and again. The gifts were always graciously accepted, the postscripts inevitably "good-bye". After seven years of tempests, betrayals and sorrowful holidays, I was spent and empty. I muttered a final good-bye and simply walked away. It was November.

Looking back on my adolescent experiences, I can see the comedic elements. Sadly, my gullibility (i.e., willingness to trust and believe in people) only led to greater pain and even greater devastation over time. But let's stop here, for mercy's sake.

Am I gullible? Resoundingly so! Am I stupid? OK, the jury may still be out on that, but I think not. That first love made me ponder the ways of the heart…endlessly. It became an act of sheer will to trust and believe. It’s so easy to be cynical. One’s first impulse, when hurt, is to armor the heart and run from love. Despite that, I refuse to give in to my fears of pain and rejection. It isn’t easy. It is a constant struggle. There was even a stretch (lasting five years) when I simply could not trust, when my heart remained closed to even the possibility of love. But my heart, confused though it may be, refuses to be fettered. It is a Herculean labor to convince myself to forget life’s bitter lessons, to suspend my disbelief. I wage bitter war against my brain because my heart demands it.

Am I gullible? Yes. Let the cynical pragmatists mock me. I think it is one of my better (albeit most personally devastating) qualities.

* * *


Blogger bct said...

Jon, maybe you weren't gullible at all. It sounds like she might be a textbook case of Seasonal Affective Disorder.
OK, enough clinical diagnosis. Is there really much difference between being gullible (i.e., refusing to see the likely consequences, thinking that this time Lucy really will let Charlie Brown kick the football) and just being spiritually evolved and willing to do the seven-times-seventy forgiving thing? The only difference seems to be where you put the point on the conscious/unconscious line.

Thu Feb 16, 09:14:00 AM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Ah, Bernice, ever my guardian angel! No, I don't believe my young lover suffered from SAD. She was a merry hedonist in those days, but is a much sadder soul today (and I grieve for her, because I love her still).

Although I would like to believe that I am spiritually evolved, I doubt that claim would survive close scrutiny. I have a decided predilection for passionate women. I have fallen, more than once, for smoldering eyes. I am, without a doubt, a fool for love. That has its positives...and fearsome negatives. Playing with fire carries consequences.

Still, I strive mightily to maintain an open heart. Anyone can enter this naive and open heart of mine. All I can do is hope they enter honestly. Some did, some didn't. The consequences were mine, alone, to bear. Believing in love has been the triumph of hope over experience...although I feel anything BUT triumphant at this point in my life.

Thu Feb 16, 01:10:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

I realized I need to amend my last comment. The shrapnel emanating from shattered love injures many. I wish the consequences were solely mine to bear; sadly they were not.

Thu Feb 16, 01:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Such a beautiful write with a little special to embrace all of ourselves even .....

I almost feel like a little sneak reading your posts without leaving and paw print.

Mon Jul 19, 12:05:00 PM  

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