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Carol Perkins: I'm walking the floor over you

Carol Perkins examines the rituals of courtship for the important in love years from 14 to 21, and the rules and rituals accompanying the mating games of that period of life
The next earlier Carol Perkins column is Things that are bound to happen

By Carol Perkins
"I'm walking the floor over you
I can't sleep a wink that is true.
I'm hoping and I'm praying as my heart breaks right in two
walking the floor over you."
Ernest Tubb wrote these lyrics in 1941, and I would bet that he never stood on a stage without strumming his oversized guitar and singing this hit. "Waltz Across Texas" was another masterpiece (1965). He was the driving force behind honky tonk music, and honky tonk bars sprang up in little towns, as well as cities, where couples danced the western swing to hits like his.

I write about Ernest Tubb and his greatest hit because I think he nailed the heartbreak involved in lost love. Let's face it, we women are addicted to love and the sagas each relationship brings, especially on TV and in the movies.

In real life, the game began early. When my friends and I were in elementary school, we "claimed" somebody as a boyfriend. IF a boy claimed us back, we were suddenly very popular. We had a b-o-y-f-r-i-e-n-d! That seldom happened. Boys wanted no part of girls except to chase them, push them, and copy their homework. If a boy was "struck on" a girl, his friends teased him relentlessly.

Claiming a boyfriend meant one thing: hands off. No other girl was allowed to claim him, too. "I called him first" was the mentality. Even if the boy refused to sit within ten feet of the girl, her friends would not dishonor her delusion and flirt with him--in front of her.

We girls didn't want to let a boy know we claimed him because he might embarrass us by saying things like, "Yuck, you have cooties." Boys do that even when they are crazy about a girl. Girls bat their eyes and giggle while guys punch them or pull a chair from under them, all in the name of love.

By junior high, the game has progressed. Some boys still think girls have germs, but many guys have taken notice privately. "He won't talk to me at school and acts like he doesn't know me, but then calls me and talks for hours." Girls are frustrated with guys at that age and don't know how to interpret their actions. What macho boy wants to be seen drooling over a girl? Not many.

By high school and especially by the time they get their license, boys are more interested in girls--outwardly. Girls, however, have learned how to play the game of love with great skill. They have learned how to pull strings, push buttons, and manipulate guys, if they so choose.

The most tormenting time in the pursuit of love is the breakup. It is bound to happen. How many people date just one person, marry him/her, and never divorce? Not many. Somewhere during the quest, a heart is shattered.

A friend of mine was discussing this topic, not seeming to understand the emotions of the breaker upper or the broken one. "Did you not have your heart broken at least once?" I asked.


I found that strange. How does one learn to mend a broken heart if it has never been broken? Isn't that part of the game?

My heart was broken many times by boys who didn't even know I was interested in them and were much too old for me. I was jealous of their girlfriends because I wanted to be in their spot. Ok, I'm being a little dramatic, but most of you have longed for a chance to be loved by a senior when you were in the seventh grade! If not a senior, a movie star.

I loved James Darren of the Gidget movies - not Bobby, but James. If he had met me, he would have loved me back! I loved Ringo Starr (so did others my age) and Frankie Avalon. My older friends loved Elvis. We can love without ever meeting; if that weren't true, there would be no celebrity hunks on People Magazine for girls (and their mothers) to swoon over weekly.

The hardest part of love is losing to someone else, which brings me back to Ernest Tubb's song. How many miles have you paced, up and down the floor, with your heart broken over someone who was out with your enemy, even though you didn't need in him first place? How many times have you stomped up and down a driveway and cried over someone who didn't love you back? How many nights have you stared into the darkness, unable to sleep, over someone who only had eyes for someone else? If you have never walked the floor over a guy (or girl) then you have never played the game of love and lost. There may be a very few out there.

The drama of love is at its peak between the ages of 14 and 21. Poets and songwriters understand the pain, and that is why they write about it and young people memorize every word. "How Do I Love Thee?" Remember that one?

We're addicted to make-ups and break-ups and that is what keeps the entertainment industry thriving, romance novels selling, and poets sitting on rocks alongside streams with pen in hand. Aw, the game of love; it is so addictive.

By the way, Bristol and Levi are off again. Oh, how dramatic.

This story was posted on 2011-02-06 13:17:42
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