This is one of those summer love stories taking place in Casper, Wyoming at a bowling alley that doesn’t have a happy ending. I guess you could call it a non-conclusive ending out of Casper, Wyoming, but as for summer love stories, non-conclusive is the same as losing out. Additionally, it’s one of those summer love stories out of a Casper, Wyoming bowling alley that has a moral: it’s better to take the risk than not to try at all.

What could have been is one of those premises in life that should be avoided at all costs! This account is true, and is based on my recollection of events and my interpretation of what happened one June evening in Casper, Wyoming in 1979, at a lodge hall bowling alley. I’m not going to say the actual names of the people involved, as their names will be changed.

Summer Love Stories Background

30 years ago, in the summer of 1978, I would become fascinated with a romantic movie, even though I was only 11 years old. It was called Grease, and it would prophesize my own first encounter with really being in love beyond the crushes I had felt before. I had been acquainted with the girl in 5th grade, but at that time, I wasn’t in love with her. I’ll call her “Sue”. Still, I found it hard to even talk to her at all. It was like she was, for lack of a better analogy, an intimidating monolith that appeared in 2001: A Space Odyssey. When I arrived back in school for the 1978-79 Casper, Wyoming school year, I began to notice that Sue was causing a new, deeper feeling within me, which for lack of a better analogy, was like one of those aliens growing inside the astronauts before it would burst out…which finally happened to me one November morning. I was sick to my stomach and in love with her, which would begin to accelerate the regretful conclusion of the summer love stories account I’m sharing with the world.

Because I could never find the courage to try to interact with Sue when I wasn’t in love with her, I was now terrified of her. Delmore Schwartz wrote in his poem I Am a Book I Neither Wrote nor Read a line that says:

“The terror of love, the depth one cannot leap.”

The school year would race by, and in January, my best friend at the time, who I’ll call “Carl”, would come close to telling her about my feelings for her one afternoon in front of a bunch of kids, but I managed to talk my way out of it by changing the subject. It seemed that Sue wanted me to tell her, because I was directly in front of her, and she was smiling at me as Carl was egging me on to tell her my secret. She had looked at me from her desk a lot, and I did the same towards her until she looked at me. Still, I discounted this and thought this goddess could never be interested in me. So I did nothing, hoping that she would come to me. During dancing lessons one afternoon in gym class in the city of Casper, Wyoming, when the girls could pick the boys to dance with, she picked another. I felt a bit hurt, but also glad, because I was so afraid of facing this “2001 monolith” up close and personal. This other guy, who I’ll call “Chuck”, and Sue were always hanging out together. You’ll hear more about Chuck at the end of this (of) summer love stories with a big moral.

Finally, by mid-April, my big mouth best friend Carl did tell Sue how I felt about her before afternoon recess one day. How did Sue react? Well, I tried to stay as far away from her during recess, and when the bell rang, I ran back to my desk. Sue just happened to sit in the same row as I did (farther back) and so she had to pass by me to get to her desk. I saw her come closer…closer…closer….and kaboom! I felt her fist on top of my head! She said nothing before, during, or after her assault.

Her punching me didn’t hurt as much as it stung, and that sting lasted well into the evening, I’ll tell you! My terror over the girl I loved was multiplied. Until school let out, which would be weeks later, I had to suffer jeers from my classmates, and I was in constant terror whenever I was around Sue. During the all-school track meet in Casper, Wyoming, Sue was accidentally called the wrong last name, actually my last name of “Barnes” instead of hers. I heard someone yell “Yes” in jest.

Still, the summer love stories of Grease and the hapless Roy Barnes were becoming miles apart. School let out without any conclusion, and I was ambivalent. At least I’d have break from having to see her every day, which was both good and bad since I would miss her, too.

A Summer Love Stories Night of Fateful Decision

As summer vacation moved forward, my brother was in some group who was sponsoring a family bowling night. Because I really loved to bowl, I gladly accepted the invitation to come, not even dreaming of what was going to happen. I felt bad that I didn’t have my first real love to share the summer with in Casper, Wyoming, but I had concluded that I had no chance anyway, and I would just have to suffer for my feelings of love.

I went to the bowling alley with my brother and mother, which was in downtown Casper, Wyoming and run by a lodge. Sue’s brother, ironically, was in the same bowling night sponsoring group as my brother and also good friends with my younger brother, for they had been in the same class together, going to the same small elementary school as Sue and I, two grades behind us. Well, Sue’s brother just happened to be there, and guess who he brought along to bowl? His sister Sue. Sue’s best friend, who I’ll call “Andrea” was bowling with her, too.

And as fate would have it in Casper, Wyoming, my best friend’s brother, also in the same school class with my brother, and also in the same sponsoring group as my brother, brought along my best friend Carl to bowl. We would be bowling with Sue and her group! I was so afraid on one hand as this (of) summer love stories would transpire over the evening, because Sue would be close to me. On the other hand, I was trying to show off that I could actually bowl, too. My first game was over 100, and Sue’s best friend Andrea complimented me in front of the group. My second game didn’t come out as well. We began to put our street shoes back on and get ready to go home.

Summer Love Stories: The Fateful Decision Made by Roy Barnes at The Bowling Alley in Casper, Wyoming

As I was changing my shoes, all the sudden I hear a voice directly above me. It was Andrea, Sue’s best friend.

“Do you like Sue?”

I felt an increase awareness of angst and fear of death. My mindtalk told me that if I said “yes”, Andrea was going to let me have it by telling me that Sue didn’t feel the same way. Sue was standing some 20 feet away from us. It was as if she were waiting for the answer back.

My flight reflex kicked into gear as I blurted out, “I have to go.”

I stormed out of the seating area for the bowling lanes, and headed towards the seating area where my mom was. As I did, something inside me told me that I was going to regret this dearly for a long time in Casper, Wyoming. For Andrea had presented to me on a silver platter a golden opportunity to forge a relationship with Sue, if she was actually attracted to me, acting as Henry Kissinger for two potential sweethearts. But I ran off like an idiot.

I’d see Sue a lot at school (basically from afar) from 7th through 10th grades until I moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming, but nothing good happened between us. It would’ve been better if I’d just found out the score, even if it was a “not interested” from Sue via Andrea in this badly ending of summer love stories.

The worst ending of summer love stories is when fear wins out, as it did in my case. I would’ve looked better being rejected than I did by being a coward. A guy doesn’t fall in love everyday, whether it be Casper, Wyoming or anywhere else on the planet, and I ask myself and God why I had to make such a disaster out of this, why didn’t I have the tools that other guys have to at least make the effort so I could write happier summer love stories from my youth with Sue, for if I had at least taken the risk, I could’ve at least won a moral victory.

Later that year during junior high school in Casper, Wyoming, I confronted that guy during lunchtime that I thought Sue liked, Chuck, and I asked him if he had been going out with her. He told me that he had asked her out during the summer (acting on one of his own summer love stories) but Sue told him she only wanted to be friends. He then called her a “witch” to her face. He said I could ask her out for all he cared.

I’m in a profession now, freelance writing, where rejection is commonplace, and I’ve learned to keep risking putting my work out there, even if it will be rejected. It’s one of the lessons I’ve learned from this of summer love stories from long ago in Casper, Wyoming at a small bowling alley run by a lodge. The worst result is not trying in the first place.

You’ll pay a dear price for giving into fear, but it’s better than living in New Mexico!

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