The Janets of this story are not really Janets, though they all have the same name – beginning with J. I have known real Janets though none are heroines of my lovelorn tales.
I was 12 or 13 and forced by my aggressively Christian father to go to weekly meetings of an evangelical society called Christian Endeavour. CE annually had a sort of “Let’s Make Them Christians” week for youngsters at a seaside boarding house on the South Coast. My father sent me along to be Made Into a Christian. The strategy was to brainwash kids with Christian stories, emotional music, exhortations to the Devil to Flee us,. and so on. We kids went along with the games. I got to play on the beach, eat ice creams and secretly practice clumsy courtship with Janet Mitcham.
Janet lived in Mitcham, in South London. She was pretty, blond, slender and I really fancied her. One evening she dramatically accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as her Savior. Yelling, crying, the works… I was impressed and thought I should do the same thing. Janet was impressed with my Jesus performance. I believed I was Truly Saved.
Giddy with Jesus, we kissed in the hallway outside of her dorm room.
I went home to a happy father. I do not recall how it came to be but a few weeks later, and likely a letter to her parents, he even allowed me to see Janet Mitcham even though living in Mitcham she was a very long way from me in Acton. It took me hours to get there by buses.
Janet took very little notice of me during the 30 minutes or so I was at her house. She would not kiss me. She had given up Jesus. On the long bus-full and sad way home, so did I.
After my next rascal crime I confessed to my father that I was UnSaved. He was furious. He likely called me several unChristian names. But we were well used to that by then, since about that same time he abandoned his wife and we five kids shouting that he lived in a house of Satan and my mum was a whore.
The winter of 1970-71 I lived in Toronto. I attended some parties and met Janet. She had gorgeous blue eyes, was slender, witty and out of reach: she was 26 and I was barely 21, not mature enough for her. I yearned to touch her. We kissed once or twice maybe, but she was otherwise untouchable. Instead, she offered a consolation prize – her sister, B. who at 19 was more my age. In my deluded yearning, I thought that getting close to B. would bring me close to J. That shabby ruse actually worked. Their mum and dad were caring people and invited me to dinner a couple of times, and I got to make J. laugh and B. to blush.
B. went to college in nearby London or Hamilton, studying Fine Arts. One weekend I planned a parachute jump scheduled early on a Sunday morning. I wanted badly to jump – I had trained for a few weeks jumping off gym vaulting horses to learn how to land and roll correctly. Since the jump was to be shortly after dawn, I booked a motel room and invited B. to stay with me. She was thrilled. I would be her first lover. But it turned out that I could not be her lover – she was a sweet girl and try as I might I was not hardent enough. She said nice things about my body, claiming her expertise as a Fine Arts major. I said nice things about her body, claiming my expertise as a bloke. But in our efforts to be nice to each other the next morning I arrived late at the jump school air field and I missed my assigned plane. I never again had the chance to parachute jump.
I felt terrible about that night. I called B. at her college dorm and told her that she was too nice for me and she should find somebody less flaky and more loving. She was crushed. She cried. I flailed with guilt.
Janet was furious at me for hurting her sister.
About 15 years later I called Janet when I was again in Toronto passing through. B. was married with kids. J. was single with a kid. I was single and now more mature. She was still older than me.; and, did not want to date me. Plus, she had to finish making dinner.
One of the most powerfully addictive, heart-morphing loves of my life was Janet Aloha.
Janet Aloha lived on a surf-pounded shore in Hawaii. She was a great surfer, an imaginative cook, a creative artist, an inspired bender of my mind and life. I was separated from my wife and though I thought of myself single, I also felt wedded to Janet for the 18 months or so I yearned for her.
I fell off many surf boards trying to surf with her; all the time wanting for her to be tired of surfing lessons so she would then suggest we have our shower. After which we would have post-surfing sex. We also lay down on beaches, hike-end waterfall pools, her guest room. Once when we were entangled on her lanai while her next neighbor was below us calling her name; us trying not to giggle or squeak the planks above his head.
Cruelly, I knew I was obsessed with her. There seemed to be nothing I could do to heal myself of the disease of ceaseless longing, listening for the phone to ring; wishing the next message to be from her; crying with frustration and longing and loneliness. I was in cyclic joy and despair. Wanting her always and knowing I couldn’t have her. What made it worse was that I adored her parents and much liked her husband.
Our affair started to dwindle when I met another lady in an elevator, a single, uncomplicated lady – except she was a Christian who decided I had to be one too. A short while later I left Hawaii and traveled for a long while; fell in love with others and grew out of obsession with Janet. But the leis around us never broke. We are still close but faraway friends.