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It was a damp, chilly, October evening somewhere around 7:30.

I was standing on the corner of Ninth Avenue and Windsor Place, right outside Ballard’s Pharmacy. I was facing eighth avenue.  There was a blue mailbox on the corner that kids loved to sit on top of but I never did.  I saw her walking towards me.  She was tall with short dark hair. Her walk was one of those pretty models you see on the cover of a fashion magazine.

This attractive girl always had a smile for me when we met up. When I was with her, I forgot about everything that was going on in my life. It was just her and I…We were in our own little world.

Her name was Maureen. She was my first girlfriend. I was fourteen, she was sixteen.

They say you don’t forget your first love, right?

It’s been over 30 years since I last talked to Maureen but it feels like just yesterday that we were holding hands walking around the neighborhood, making out in Prospect Park or fighting. I argued with her often. It was all my fault.

The year was 1978,  I didn’t realize how lucky I was to be with her. Didn’t understand the meaning of love. Was clueless as to how good I had it that someone cared about me.

Like most teenagers, (well some anyway) I took this time for granted. I also took Maureen for granted. And it’s one of my biggest regrets in my life.

It was also the biggest mistake of my life (second was dropping out of high school).

“Bless me father for I have sinned…”

Then something went wrong. At fourteen, my life was going downhill. Actually, before meeting Maureen things were building up, you can say they were ‘spiraling out of control’.  Sorta like  a snowball rolling downhill. Actually, I don’t like that expression because I have never rolled a snowball down a hill.

Shades of jealousy, including an awful trait of being overprotective and the fact that Maureen’s parents didn’t like me much put me behind the 8-ball at the start. I was nervous around them. It was difficult to say hello to them.  But that was all my fault.  Again, I’ll play the blame game; on my self-esteem because at this time of my life it was rock bottom.

They say you are a ‘product of your environment’ well at home in my apartment the male adults didn’t know how to treat women.  My father screamed and beat my mother.

After an ugly divorce her boyfriends did the same. How is a young boy supposed to learn from those examples?

If a “relationship guru” was passing out grades to all these men,  they would have received ‘F’s’…

In the late 70’s there was no such book as “How to Love Your Girlfriend for Dummies.”  No one taught me how to treat a girl. I basically went on what I witnessed in person.

Maureen and I played the break-up game more than any other couple in the neighborhood. We’d spend hours arguing on the phone. At the end of the conversation I would tell her “it’s quits.” Only to make up the following night.

Clueless on how to make a relationship work. Not the slightest idea where to turn.

Trying to search for answers, but no such luck. Where was cupid when I needed him?

Not once did I ever consider Maureen’s feelings until it was too late. She broke my heart when she left me for good and found someone who showed her true love. From the ages of 14 to 17 I had a chance at love but I blew it. A golden opportunity that the Love Gods bestowed upon me. Too stupid to seize the opportunity.

After we broke up for the final time, I was in misery. I was sad and lonely.

Maureen was a beautiful girl. She had a glowing smile. An out-going personality and she was a magnificent kisser. She was what every boy wanted in a girlfriend.

One problem with our relationship and probably the most critical was I never put her first. It was always basketball or my friends before her; big mistake!

Maureen worked a lot harder than I did to make our relationship work. I on the other hand did not.

I learned the hard way how to treat a lady. It took me a long time but I’m happy to say I now know what it takes. You put the woman in your life first! You listen to her. You make her feel like she is the only thing that matters.

Like Cher said in a song, “If I Could Turn Back Time,” I would…

Have listened to Maureen; because she was very smart. Listening is the greatest gift you can ever give someone.

I would have treated her like a Queen.

I would have spent way more time with her.

Also, I would have been nicer to her parents and spent time with them.

Maureen and I would have sat at the counter of Rae and Otto’s and shared an egg cream.

In the summer I would have taken her to Coney Island to ride the roller coaster, share a hot dog at Nathan’s and hung out on the beach.

At night I would have walked down to her house on Windsor and 8th to pick her up and take her to the movies. Sanders was closed at this time so we’d hop on the B 68 bus and go to the RKO Kingsway.

On a Saturday afternoon I would take her shopping at Kings Plaza.

We would have spent time in the boys schoolyard at Holy Name playing basketball; despite Maureen not being a very good player, I would teach her the proper technique on shooting just like my coach at Holy Name had taught us.

In a nutshell, I would have planned it out better.

I would not have been a jealous lunatic.

I would have worked at it; hey Tony Soprano, give me Dr. Melfi’s number!

Most of all, I would have loved her and cared for her much, much more.

The love I lost…was a sweet love.