I knew a different Betsy.
Very different, I don't think I've ever met anybody
quite like her.
One of the most vivid memories
that I'll take to the grave
or the liquid nitrogen vat
with me will be her at study group
bouncing around the dorm lounge
in men's longjohns
oblivious to everything
shouting at the top of her lungs
about calculus.
And she looks like a young Michelle Pheiffer,
though she could look like Rosanne
for all I'd care.
On my finest days, I could barely keep up with her,
let alone fascinate her. Challenge her.
I am a retard compared to her.
And I wanted her too much. That sort of thing shows.
That sort of thing narrows one's scope and makes one
even less interesting.

I eventually got over
my infatuation with her.
Then years later I called her up
because of a dream I had.
A dream about meeting in a store
and I wanted to say something
bitter and sarcastic to her
but couldn't because I was crying
too hard.
So, like I said, I called her
(took me almost ten minutes to track her down--
she'd left town and moved a couple of times)

So we made our ammends.
We were friends, confidants for a while.
I visited her in Chicago. Met her boyfriend.
Smart, tall, luxuriant hair, physicist, and above all
lucky. Very fucking lucky.
But it wasn't like that. I wished them the best.
I really did.
They had problems, and I was there to listen to her.
Sometimes long distance twice in the same hour.
She cried and I was ready to drop everything
and fly out there.
Then all of a sudden everything was fine.
Or maybe the wonderwoman mask was back on.
I didn't hear from her for a couple of months, and then...
a simple letter in response to my carefully worded
question. It said:
"It's unhealthy for me to continue speaking to you."
That's all it said.
I obeyed it.
Partly out of respect for her wishes.
Partly out of spite.
But I got over my friendship for her too.
I don't even have the email, I don't think.
I wanted to keep it, but think I deleted it accidently.

The only thing left is that I love her.

So her birthday is sometime around now, it's forever
on my palm pilot.
I thought about wishing her
a happy birthday, but thought better of actually
writing to tell her so. I just looked her up again.
She is still so beautiful. So brilliant. So crazy.
I hope she gets that PhD.
I hope she goes on to do whatever the hell
makes her happy.
Physics, or music, or art, or fencing,
or goofy practical jokes.
I've given up on her.
I just miss her, and I love her, but that's about it.
I have a life, and a busy one.
I've had it with women. Particularly the smart ones.
I've had it with romantic illusions.
After the first quarter century, the brainwashing wore off.
I know what I need, I know what I'm after
and I know where to get it relatively easily.

So, happy birthday, Bets, wherever you are,
and have a nice life.

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