What was I thinking? Waiting till the day before Christmas to get a present for my husband. This place is madness!
I search the department store, trying to figure out where I should start first. The ties? No, he has plenty. The underwear? I may as well just give him a lump of coal.
Then from the corner of my eye I notice a pretty young thing spraying perfume onto little red cards and handing them to passersby. That’s it! Cologne. He’s worn the same old man cologne since college. Changing things up definitely couldn’t hurt.
Perusing the shelves, I look for the funkiest looking bottle—that means it's gotta be good, right? I run my finger over the protruding letters of a shiny blue one. Spraying a small amount on a long white strip, I take a big whiff. The aroma travels down my throat, nearly choking me. Coughing and spluttering all over the show, I slowly back away from that abomination.
Moving to another shelf, my eye stops on a tall, slender black bottle. It looks familiar. Where have I seen this before? Taking it in my hands, I look it over.
“Merry Christmas, can I help you with anything?”
“That one is a classic, almost twenty years since it was first released, it never goes out of style. It’s a fresh woody fragrance that doesn’t assault the nostrils,” the very festive looking attendant tells me, then giggles whilst eyeing the blue atrocity.
“Oh, thank you,” I reply. And before I can tell her I’m just going to have a browse, she takes the bottle from me and sprays some on a card. She then shoves it in my face so I can get a good taste. Dang, woman, back off.
But then it hits me like a tonne of bricks. I’d know that sent anywhere. In an instant, I’m transported back to my first year of university. The moment my roommate’s boyfriend walked into our dorm room.
I remember that day like it was yesterday and not fourteen years ago. My roommate Stacy had met a guy in one of her classes and they’d hit it off. We were going to a house party just off campus, and she’d asked him to join us. Stacy wanted me to be there just in case he was too good to be true, I can tell you now—he wasn’t. He walked through our door; big grin, messy hair, shiny brown eyes, wearing Jeans and a casual shirt, and that cologne, yum! The next day all we talked about was how great he was.
He was nice looking, not too tall, with a warm smile. But what was most appealing to me was his personality. He had me in stitches from the minute he opened his mouth. We could joke back and forth with so much ease. From then on he would come and hang out in our room almost daily. Of course being Stacy’s boyfriend I knew he was off limits, so I was at ease and could just be myself around him.
We became close over the sixteen months they dated. When Stacy was busy, it was no big deal for Peter and I to hang out. Before long, I had a massive crush on him. But Stacy was my friend, so I kept my feelings to myself. I wasn’t a home-wrecker and had no intention of becoming one anytime soon.
“Excuse me, are you ok?” The saleswoman waves her hand in front of my face.
“Oh, yes. Sorry, just reminiscing over this fragrance.”
“Would you like to buy it?” she asks with a gleam in her eye.
Is she nuts! I don’t need my husband wearing this, reminding me of the one that got away.
“No thanks. I think I’m going to keep looking around,” I tell her casually.
“I can show you our latest specials. What are you looking for? We have more than just cologne, there’s also men’s skin care. Here we have our new range of men’s foundation,” she informs me as her hand sweeps over the top of the most ridiculous product I’ve ever seen, like one of those assistants on the home shopping channel. I think my husband would divorce me if I brought him make-up.
I hold up my hands to stop her from continuing her sales rant. “I’m actually going to go check out the ties.” And with that, I walk away—fast.
Now that Peter has entered my thoughts again, I can’t seem to get him to leave. I wonder what he’s doing now? The last time I saw him was at Stacy’s wedding—she married his brother, of all people. Now that’s a whole other story! Anyway, I was newly engaged. He had just started seeing someone. He asked me to dance. We had a moment just like previous times we crossed paths over the years. Then nothing—always nothing.
Like ships passing in the night. He had a girlfriend, then I had a boyfriend. Then he went to live on the other side of the country, then he came back, then I was engaged. It was never our time. Over the years I’ve often thought ‘what if?’, but I guess if we wanted to make it work, we would have moved heaven and earth to make it happen. But we didn’t.
He may be the one who got away, but I’m more than happy with the one that stayed. Glancing at the small appliances, an electrical shaver catches my eye. Actually, Mike was just saying the other day that his old one was on its last legs. Perfect; shaver it is. And I know he’ll love it, because he always appreciates my gifts.
He really is a great husband, and he gave me the greatest gifts I could’ve asked for—our children. I may never stop wondering about Peter and what could have been, but one thing I know for certain is that I’m happy, I’m happy with how my life has turned out. And who knows, Peter might have driven me crazy, ending in us breaking up after only a few months, that’s what I like to think, anyway.
I’m a firm believer that things happen for a reason, so I purchase the shaver, take it home, wrap it and put it under the Christmas tree for tomorrow morning. That night me, Mike and the kids watch Home Alone in our Xmas onesies, stuffing our faces with m&m infused popcorn. Then as I snuggle into my best friend’s neck, I inhale that familiar scent that tells me I’m home and I close my eyes and smile.