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It was a wintry autumn day-but the coldest of seasons was yet two months away. I was sitting in the front seat of Rob’s car when the argument started.

Vi didn’t mean anything by what he said–and I did make a careless slip of the tongue, but it set me off for about five minutes. Those five minutes would have been enough to quell my frustration–to let it simmer and boil down, but then she said something. I don’t know if I was madder at myself for making the mistake, or at them for not forgetting it.

She was Rob’s god-cousin, which means he could’ve still “hit that” if he had tried or wanted to. Neither was the case, which is why she was sitting in the back. She was in town from Portland for the weekend, and it was up to us that night to show her a good time. The conversation was between Vi and I, but she butted in. She said that maybe what I felt was not real love at all. She commented that maybe I had made the slip because all I felt was “puppy love.”

There’s definitely a negative connotation that goes with the term puppy love. In that one simple adjective, “puppy,” people can defame a love as innocent, childish, and even silly. I blasted her.

“How can you even begin to judge me like that? You’re four years older? So what? How do you know how much I’ve been through–both in my life and my relationships?” It had not been merely and idle comment. There had been meat in it. Raw meat.

“Yea, he’s right Wynne, he’s had more experience than all of us,” Vi helped. He always tried to manage situations on the off chance that they might get out of hand. He’s our voice of responsibility at times–he’s only failed once.

I thought for a minute about what he said and if it was really true. “Rob, don’t you have more experience than I do?”

“Well, I think you actually beat me by a bit,” Rob replied.

I wasn’t sure whether to be happy that I had more experience than them or to feel dirty. Regardless, it became the crux of my argument. I told her that I’d had more experience than any of my friends–and in general, and if she wanted to call my love “puppy” then she was being a blatant ageist. Not only that, but inwardly I questioned her capacity for love.

She tried one last tactic and brought up my slip. I lost any control I had been trying to maintain, and let my passion burst.

I screamed at her about how it is human to make mistakes, and that if she had never misspoken before then she must be God or Buddha. “I know for sure that I’m not God! I make mistakes!” I yelled at her. I was rash and cold–I let my emotions best my composure.

My exclamations resounded down the empty streets of Chinatown that night. I can imagine lights blinking on in nearby apartments wondering at the high-pitched squealing coming from the streets below.

Did they stop to wonder about the cause? Did they realize a man, cut and injured, walked bleeding through the streets? His passion flowed blood red out of him, like the color of spring roses on winter snow?

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