To the One Who Was Always Supposed to Be There…He Just Never Knew It


I was working on my computer last night (as always) and was listening to my “mellow” playlist of songs in iTunes.

I’ve been in a mellow mood for several days now actually…I think it’s because I’ve had a sore throat and haven’t been feeling well.

Anyway, as I was working, one of my all-time favorite songs started to play…”Sharing the Night Together” by Dr. Hook.

I love the lead singer’s voice (Ray Sawyer?), and I love the overall grooviness of the song.

But what I really love is that the song always makes me think of one of my dearest high school boyfriends…Harrel Balius. (That’s Harrel pictured above, with me at right and our good friend Cindy Green Herman at left. This was taken about five years after high school. The three of us had decided one Friday to head to New Orleans. We’re pictured here at Pat O’Brien’s in the French Quarter.)

Harrel was that guy in my life who I thought would always be Plan B. You know, if things never worked out for me romantically with anyone else…I could always fall back on Harrel.

Good ol’ Harrel.

He was the first guy I ever French kissed. I remember that night so well. It was our sophomore year and we had gone out one Saturday night. I was driving Harrel home after the date (he didn’t have his license yet) and he told me to pull over in the parking lot of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church. I did what he said…I pulled my little 1969 VW bug over…right underneath a light post.

“Shelley,” Harrel threw his hands in the air. “Pull over where it’s not so bright.”

“Oh.” I blushed, then backed the car into a darkened parking space.

Harrel leaned over the emergency brake and kissed me. I kissed back. It was lovely. And, before I knew what had happened, we had French kissed.

I pulled back, upset. Then, the dork that I was (and will forever be) started crying. Harrel looked like a scared rabbit…wondering what he had done.

“What’s wrong, Shell? Are you okay?”

“Yes,” I stuttered between sobs. “I just want to make sure you still respect me.”

“Of course I do.”

Since the mood was broken…we both decided to call it a night and go home.

It seemed so intense and daring and wild and adventurous then.

Now…thinking back on it…it just inspires a fit of embarrassed giggles.

Truly, I am the epitome of dork greatness.

Harrel and I only “went together” for four months while at Biloxi High School. But we would pal around every now and then for years to come when I’d come home from college. We’d either go out like we did in the picture above, or I’d hang out at his father’s bakery (which he later came to own), watching him whip up meringue and ice petits fours. I always thought there was something so special about him.

He used to call me “pumpkin” and “blondie blonde” (my hair was lighter in high school from always being outside with the marching band).

We danced at our 10-year class reunion and folks thought we were dating…we weren’t. Even the picture above is signed on back by Harrel…”To my only love. Harrel”.

I never actually pined for him…he was my Harrel. I just always took comfort in thinking he’d be there for me…one day…if I needed him.

Best of plans mislaid, I guess. He got married about two years ago.

He was the last of my old boyfriends to settle down…while I have yet to. His marriage truly represented, it seemed then (and still does in many ways), that all my options had expired.

I didn’t tell anyone…but the night I found out of his engagement…I cried…even harder than I had in that dark parking lot of Our Lady of Fatima.

Years ago, Harrel made me a tape of “The Anthology of Bread.” As an added bonus, he included “Sharing the Night Together” at the end of side B. It wasn’t a special song for us. We had never danced to it…or even listened to it together. I guess he just liked it and wanted me to have it.

I’m glad he did.

I still have that tape, and whenever I hear Dr. Hook sing “You’re lookin’ kinda lonely girl. Would ya like someone new to talk to? Ah yeah. Alright.“…I think of Harrel…and what I thought could have been…but what was never meant to be.

So, here’s to Harrel and all of our Plan B’s…for respecting us then, loving us when, and unintentionally breaking our hearts along the way.


31 Responses to “To the One Who Was Always Supposed to Be There…He Just Never Knew It”

  1. Shrewspeaks Says:

    Awe Shells…this is such a wistful post.

    Plan B…my best male friend from college and I have made a “joke” pact…if neither of us are married by the time we turn 50 we are getting married. Our song would be Louis Jordan’s “There Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens.” I swear this is a true story. We planned the whole wedding…The ceramony would be held in Banff National Park because we would always get a question about Banff while playing Trivial Pursuit. Very silly!

    So, I am terrified that he will turn 50 and call and simply play that song and THAT will be my marriage!

    So I ask again…Sleestack? Single?

  2. shelley Says:

    But it’s good to know he’s there…right, Shrew?

  3. TKls2myhrt Says:

    That was beautiful, Shelley. You have a gift for communicating thoughts, emotions and snapshots in time.

  4. Mind Doc Says:

    Shelley — what a great post. It was really evocative.

  5. leejolem Says:

    Shelley, I almost cried when I read that Harrel got married–I can’t imagine how you felt. Reading this made me feel nostalgic over a guy I dated who is also married now, but who once said that he pictured us together rocking in our rocking chairs on a front porch when we’re old. That we were meant to be together, but just not at that time. Whenever I watch movies like The Notebook or Bridges of Madison County I think of old loves. Sigh! Here’s to old loves, french kiss memories and the ones that got away.

  6. Shrewspeaks Says:

    Shells…Yes, yes it is good to know he is still there in theory.

    I guess since we were never romantic in our past it is a different notion.

  7. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Well I have three men like that in my life….

    Joe: He was my first boyfriend. We never even kissed, though. I moved away, then I moved even farther away and all these (20) years later, he’s always kept in touch with me. He’s always sent me gifts on my bday and Christmas. I haven’t seen him in almost 10 years, but he’s still there, a phone call away. He’s not married…but we are not meant to be. (He has hair to his waist and dates strippers. He’s changed a lot from our high-school days, but he’s a very sweet man.)

    John: He was the rich boy from the private boarding school in our county. We met while he was playing against our school in a soccer tournament. He was beautiful. Columbian by birth. He was orphaned and living on the streets in some Columbian town by age 5 with his younger brother and sister. A rich American couple adopted all three. He (no joke) fell head over heels in love with me and ours was as whirlwind as a highschool distance relationship could be. Again, I moved away and we tried to stay in touch but it fell apart. A few years later he tracked me down in Dallas and we picked up where we left off. We ended up having a really hard time of it b/c of distance and his rocky mental state. A few months after we broke up, I got word that he’d committed suicide. I still cry over him.

    Dan: The one I let go. He really loved me and treated me like a queen. I freaked out b/c he was so handsome and smart. I mean, how could a man like that really love me? I had to break up with him before I got my heart broken. (MUST. ALWAYS. MAINTAIN. CONTROL.) Now, my sister is married to his brother’s best friend, so I hear about him all the time. He never married…and he holds a lot of animosity towards me still. That’s sad. I was only 19 years old. You’d think 15 years would ease his pain. (I guess I’m just that wonderful. Ha!)

    I’m really sad now Shelley. I feel so alone. Sigh.

  8. nolagirl Says:

    Great post Shelley. The crying and “Do you still respect me??” gave me a good chuckle …. especially considering how “busy” young kids are this day and age – gah! I wonder how Harrel is now …

    Bama – Man, that’s a lot of …. stuff. Was there ever any attempt to “reunite” with Dan? That makes me sad.

  9. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Nola- I did try over the years to reconnect w/Dan. He rejected my offers, but I know he still asks about me. It makes me really sad when I think about him. Maybe we wouldn’t have worked out anyway, but I wish I hadn’t ended it the way I did. I was so immature. The day after we broke up, he brought me a dozen yellow roses with a sweet card I still have.

  10. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Shelley- I laughed out loud when you told us about crying after Harrel kissed you. That was priceless!

  11. nolagirl Says:

    Aww, Bama! That stinks. Makes you kinda want to play a sad love song and mope around. 😦

  12. bamaborntxbred Says:

    I think I will Nola. Dan and I loved to listen to Morrissey and/or The Smiths…there is lots of depressing stuff in that repetoire. Maybe I’ll dig out my old cd’s and cry to “Girlfriend in a Coma.”

  13. Shrewspeaks Says:

    Oh my Bama…Don’t wallow…

    I have a saying…if it is meant to be it’s meant to be. Wait that was Doris Day…but the sentiment is…the same.

  14. double d Says:

    Geez…I’m off to take some Paxil.

  15. Shrewspeaks Says:

    Okay…all of this made me stop work and go searching for this…

    My wedding song

    How can you not smile at this?

  16. double d Says:

    For Shrew, with a side for Gray…

    Que Sera

  17. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Shrew- That little girl is hysterical!

    Maybe the Monkbot can walk you down the aisle or whatever they have there Banff National Park!

  18. bamaborntxbred Says:

    I looooove that movie DD!! Love, love, love it!!

  19. leejolem Says:

    Wow, Bama, the John and Dan stories are both sad. All these comments are helping me remember how intense young love is(remember the movie Endless Love?). My 18yr old daughter just broke up w/her boyfriend of 1&1/2 yrs (her 1st love), and it is heartbreaking for me to watch her go thru this (although I know it’s for the best).
    Shelley, considering what goes on today between kids at that age I find your story really sweet. I have to say I loved french kissing as a teenager (my sister says I french kissed every boy I dated, but that is so not true).
    Bring on the Paxil, Zoloft, Prozac, etc….

  20. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Aww…I’m sorry your daughter is going through a heartbreak.

    Sometimes I’m glad that I controlled my experiences so that I wouldn’t get “heart-broken”…but mostly I’m regretful that my loves were half-lived. At least your daughter will have the memories of 1&1/2 years of being fully in love.

  21. leejolem Says:

    Bama, I guess you’re right. She takes after me –I was always one of those that jumped into love w/both feet. Maybe that’s why I got married at 20, and we’ve had some rocky times. Has it been worth it?–today I’ll say yes, but it sure hasn’t been easy. I was one of those that definitely “walked on the wire” “just to feel that way”–I guess falling in love is sort of like giving up control. Hmmm, I’ve never thought of it that way. Wise Monkbot sistahs!

  22. Holeigh Says:

    Aww…now I wanna cry. 😦 I was just moving on, hahha…

    Well, this guy, Reece, isn’t my Plan B guy, but he’s the first guy that I could have loved, I’m pretty sure. He’s a couple grades behind me in school, a senior this year; we met when I was his mentor as a sophomore (he was in 8th grade). Even then it seemed like we had a quick connection, and when he moved away it was kinda sad, at least for me.

    Then, last year around this time I was at one of my good friends’ house, before a high school basketball game, and he was there, visiting my friend’s little brother, as he’d moved back to the area. It was shocking to see him, for both of us, I think. In June we started talking regularly again, and since then it’s been a whirlwind with that boy. He’s become one of my best friends and I fell for him bad.

    Unfortunately, through a long, twisted series of issue, I have come to realize that it’s not going to happen, because of a previous relationship he is still caught up in (and slightly depressed over)…to simplify, I suppose: The other night was a drama in two acts, in which I discover how good for me he could actually be…if only he weren’t so bad for himself. (I looove the emo undertones, hehe.)

    Thankfully, even though we’ve talked about “us” many times, I see no change in our friendship…so, opposite of most of you gals, my “one who got away” will always be in my closest circle of friends. For better or worse on my feelings for him. 😛

    Gaaah, yes, bring on the happy pills…at least I may see something new on the horizon? Te-he.

  23. Shrewspeaks Says:

    Did some one ask for these?

  24. bamaborntxbred Says:

    When you’re feeling crappy…get some happy…pills.

    Now in yellow.

    -Ha! That was the best line of the whole thing!! Thanks Shrew! I’m happy now!

    Happy, happy, joy, joy!

  25. Holeigh Says:

    Hahaha, thanks so much for that, Shrew…definitely helped. 🙂

  26. Quossum Says:

    *sigh* Great post, Shelley. Made me think of my “Plan B” guy…Jay. Hell, he was my friggin’ Plan A guy until some foolishness happened (some my fault, some someone else’s) that put the kibosh on our friendship pretty much, which of course spoiled my Grand Plan for us to get married.

    We were the geekish ones, social rejects soundly disdained by all others. We were the two 17-year-olds in Driver’s Ed with the twenty eager 15-year-olds (we both had difficult and overprotective parents). We sat next to each other and wrote notes back and forth during class. One such exchange:

    While reading “The Crucible” in 10th grade Lit, he slipped me a note that said, “Goody [Quossum] is a wytch!”

    I wrote back, “‘Ware! Thou shalt see mine familiar this night!”

    “Thus shall I D-Con put out tonight!”

    “Mine familiar is impervious to such means, being long of tooth!”

    “Sugary candy, then!”

    I think I still have that note squirreled away somewhere. I remember in one class we sat next to each other, constantly passing such clever notes (meanwhile getting A’s in the class, of course), and the teacher announced that there were too many people sitting near their friends, so she was changing the seating arrangement. Jay and I exchanged looks of horror. After class I actually went up to the teacher and begged her to allow us to continue to sit next to each other.

    And she did. Guess she recognized that rejects need one another particularly badly–and hey, our grades weren’t suffering.

    We never actually “went out”–but I always assumed we would get together one day…then things happened. I’ve tried tentatively to find out what he’s up to these days, just out of curiosity, but never successful.

    Not that I’m disappointed with my DH, don’t get me wrong!!! Just a little wistful for that “first love” kind of thing. Hey, for all I know, he read about me getting married and got all teary-eyed! LOL


  27. nolagirl Says:

    Aww, Q! I loved your story! “(meanwhile getting A’s in the class, of course)” – well …natch! 😉

  28. ruhappytoseeme Says:

    plan b, hmm my plan b always tells me we will grow old together sitting on the front posrch in our rocking chairs, he has not married (mind you we did marry but divorced within months, but remained best frineds, ive known him 21 years) we still talk every other week, and even tho im engaged we still have a pact that if we are single by 60 (and alive LOL) we will be together till we die (we dont have to get married tho, I see no point now LOL) its weird how we all have similar storys. Happy happy joy joy! 🙂

  29. leejolem Says:

    RU, I can’t believe someone else has the “sitting on the front porch in our rocking chairs” scenario. I guess it’s kind of a romantic notion, huh?

  30. Anonymous Says:

    Love this post, Shelley. Really got me thinking and reminiscing.

    My “plans” are almost like vitamins. Meaning, there is a Plan B1, Plan B2, and Plan B12. (Don’t ask me about B3-11, because they all dropped out of my life after winning the Oscar/Grammy/Emmy/Tony/Jerry Springer Guest of the Year Award. :))

    B1 is still there and has been there since we were 12. He stills checks on me, making sure I’m happy where I am, letting me know that all I have to do is say the word and he’ll drop everything for me. He’s very sweet. (Looks a bit like Christopher Reeve, too.) He’s the one I wish I were crazy about, if only I were the type to listen to reason and logic.

    B2 just got married last year. He’s the one to whom I attach a tinge of regret. He’s brilliant, romantic, one heck of a writer, and was utterly devoted to me. It was the distance that ruined it, although I have to admit that was all me. (Hence the aforementioned regret.)

    The third one gets last and special mention because he is the love of my life, my first true love – the one I can never be with but still dream about now and then. The music genius with a great sense of humor. It’s been almost 20 years but the “first love” feeling attached to him hasn’t faded. We actually briefly crossed paths some months ago, and for a moment it was like nothing had changed. As I was getting ready to leave, he blurted out, “I can’t believe I’m still in love.” I think my heart literally stopped for a few seconds.

    I know what you mean, Q, about being happily married but still sometimes wistful for that butterflies-in-the-stomach thing.

    But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I consider myself so fortunate to have been loved so well by these wonderful men. There is so much music out there that has such special meaning to me because of them.

  31. leejolem Says:

    I know this is way late in the thread, but I love BREAD. The songs Diary and If are 2 of my favs ever.

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