To All The Girls I Loved Before

By Tom Nussbaum

woman kissing

 

Remember the award-winning Willie Nelson-Julio Iglesias collaboration “To All the Girls I Loved Before?” I do. And, like them, I remember all the girls that I have loved before. What? I loved girls? Is that a shock? Well, I did. It was before I came out.

I usually don’t talk about these past romances. It’s awkward. But I had them nonetheless and they involved deep, strong feelings. Situations changed, however. I changed. The feelings and the relationships changed. There was pain, shame, confusion, disappointment, and regrets. But now, after time has allowed me to look at these experiences from a distance, I understand them better and am ready to tell the world about them.

One of these love affairs was with a beauty whose name caused friends to joke that I must have picked her at the Grand Ole Opry. “Are you sure she wasn’t a Nashville back-up singer?” they’d ask. But Iris Pearl was anything but country. She was more pop-rock and disco. Even though her music—she not only played it, she often made it—seemed to accompany us everywhere, Iris Pearl also could talk. Man, she could discuss news, current affairs, or politics. Even sports. I, however, usually tuned her out when she started on the political chatter. It wasn’t that I disagreed with what she said; I just preferred her music.

I was attracted to Iris Pearl the minute I laid eyes on her. She had me with “Hi.” That was the first thing she said to me. Well, technically she didn’t say “Hi.” I read it. It was on a picture of her. Ah, memories. Iris Pearl was great. She always was there for me. Reliable. Never complained. I loved her. She probably was my favorite, the one best suited for me. But it just wasn’t meant to be forever.

As the years passed, her beauty and appeal faded. I lost interest. My eyes and heart began to stray. While I still had feelings for Iris Pearl, I got bored with her. She, after all, was getting older and not aging gracefully. Her medical bills were mounting. But she had been beautiful.

A stunning silvery purple Plymouth Neon.

The color was called Iris Pearl. Hence, her name. Oh, I still remember how we met. I was thumbing through a magazine and there was her picture. In an ad introducing her to the world. She was a new kinda girl. And she flirted with those headlight-like eyes and said “Hi.” The “Hi” was over her rear end. It was a great rear end. I wasn’t even looking to end my previous relationship. But I did. For Iris Pearl. And her eyes. And her rear end. And her “Hi.” She was my pride and joy through the late 1990s and into the new millennium.

When Iris Pearl’s beauty faded and physical condition worsened, I found a younger, cuter gal, a Honda Civic. I named her Heather Honda. Imagine my surprise, though, when I discovered the size of her exhaust pipe and realized Heather was a he. I renamed him Henry Honda. I should have picked up on Henry’s gender when I saw his masculine dark blue color. But I fell hard and fast. Like they say, love is blind and love is love. That was the first time I had experienced that kind of attraction. With a Henry.

I had other cars before Iris Pearl and Henry Honda. My first was a high school graduation present, a 15-year-old Pontiac. It had belonged to an elderly couple, friends of my parents, but they had become too old to drive. So Dad bought it for me and I inherited the well-maintained but out-of-style sedan. I don’t remember if it came with a name. But I doubt it. The previous owners weren’t the kind of people who named their cars. They preferred naming their kids instead. We just had different priorities. I didn’t name the old gal when I took over though. What was I gonna call the Pontiac? Petunia? Priscilla? The old lady “P” names just didn’t work for me. Besides, she wasn’t a new car.

But when I bought my first car in the early 1970s, it was new. And so that bronze Chevrolet Vega was christened Vicki, Vicki Vega. We, however, had problems from the start. She had a weak heart and bed-wetting issues; her engine was faulty and she dripped oil overnight. As a result, she was not in my life for a long time. It was longer than a fling, but hardly long enough to be considered a long-term relationship. When Chevrolet improved their Vegas, however, I traded her in for a new model, a gray one who served me much better. Because of her gray color, I thought of that Vega as a new-but-older gal and I named her Velma.

Velma and I were together until the mid-1980s when I fell in love with a little redhead. She was an exciting gal, an adorable little Honda CRX. I kicked Velma to the curb and drove off with that hot Honda hatchback. She was a lot like me: small and sporty. And we lived together in Seattle, Portland, and back in Seattle again. I have wondered, though, in hindsight, if my time with that CRX was ever based on love at all, but merely physical attraction. Or a mid-life crisis.

And then I saw that picture of Iris Pearl…and I forgot all about that CRX. Even her name. I know. That is despicable. I had, after all, been with her for nearly a decade. But I am not the first man to forget the name of someone he has been intimate with. In my mind, however, I hadn’t “been intimate with” her…or the others; I thought of our experiences as test driving, long Sunday drives, or errands. I look back now at my years with that CRX and I think, “We had a good ride, didn’t we, Honey? And then I just left you for…” Oh my God! Her name was Honey! I remembered her name. It’s Honey Honda!

Oh, Honey. Dear sweet Honey. Now that I’ve remembered her name, I realize how much I have missed her. Maybe it was more than a physical attraction; maybe it was love after all.

I’ve got to go. I’m sorry. I have to look up Honey and see if she is on Facebook. Or the Kelley Blue Book. Or some other form of automotive social media. I really would like to see her again. You know, now that I think about it, I loved her more than Iris Pearl. I’m not even sure I did love Iris Pearl. It might have just been the way she said “Hi” and batted those headlight eyes. Gee, I hope I find Honey. Maybe she’d be interested in going for a spin. Maybe she’d let me get in her again. Just for old time’s sake.

 

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