Young love-sometimes painful, always sweet |

Young love-sometimes painful, always sweet

Jeffrey Bergeron
Special to the DailyBiff America

Visual images can express various emotions like no dictionary definition ever could. When I hear the term “progress,” I see pristine land being ravaged by heavy equipment. When I ponder the feeling of “hate,” I think of a burning cross or a swastika. And when I attach a mental picture to “pure love,” I recall a barely teen, Irish couple I saw years ago in County Mayo.She had green eyes and pale, youthful skin that flushed easily with the winds blowing off the ocean. Her hair was a tone of red that perfectly matched the freckles on her nose. What made me first notice her was the fact that she reminded me of pictures I had seen of my mother when she was a young girl.Her boyfriend was a gangly, dark hair, man-child – all knees, elbows and unruly cowlick. You could tell that someday he would be handsome, but at that time of his adolescence, his carriage was almost comical. He had laughing eyes that did much to over shadow his awkward appearance.Ellen and I were bicycle-touring down the west coast of Ireland. We were sitting on a stone wall in a small coastal village and were frustrated and tired due to the near-constant drizzle that plagued us for days. After bicycling more than 50 miles in the rain, the late afternoon clearing did little to improve our moods. We were debating whether to risk riding another 20 miles to the next town, or calling it a short day and spending the night where we were.It was Friday night, and there was obviously some local function that brought hordes of young people out on the streets. (The Irish are prolific breeders.) A large group passed us, all energy and noise. The boys, with shirttails out and freshly combed hair, were pushing and shoving each other like young stallions hoping to get noticed by the girls who followed. The girls were loud and giggly and sported their poorly applied makeup like a badge of adulthood. About 20 feet behind this tempest of youth walked the young lovers. Their quiet conversation was in stark contrast with the mass of confusion that preceded them. They were part of the pack in proximity only. Their nervous glances into each other’s eyes suggested a beautiful innocence. Our worries of rain and shelter passed for a moment as we watched the couple walk by us, oblivious to their surroundings. They were as close as two people could get to each other without actually touching. As they past us, we watched the young girl dangle her arm by her side and nudge the hand of her date. It seemed to take agonizingly long, but the boy finally got the hint and took her hand. At first he clutched her hand stiffly like some foreign object, but soon the two of them passed from sight with arms swinging. Before they disappeared around the corner, I heard her issue a peal of youthful laughter. “Did you see that?” I asked Ellen.”That was so cute,” she said.”Do you remember the first time you ever held hands?” I asked.We sat for a while and shared stories of first love. She reminisced of some guy from Pittsburgh, with thick glasses, braces and acne. (No wonder I looked good to her.) I told Ellen about a girl named Gail who had pig tails, freckles, and displayed about two inches of skin between her knee socks and plaid Catholic school skirt. We both recalled the mystery, fear and excitement that were the by-products of first love. I’m sure in some places, even in America, that innocence is still possible; I hope it still exists today.We decided to stay in that little village that night. We found a romantic bed and breakfast where we were the only lodgers. Our room looked out over the ocean and had a bathtub and a fireplace. The town’s only restaurant was a bar that featured many assortments of beef and grease, so we decided to buy a bottle of wine and make sandwiches in our room. It was only after we were both freshly bathed did we sit on the floor, warmed by the fire, and watch the waves crashing on the shore outside our window. Just before dark, the skies cleared, promising better weather for the next day’s ride. We opened the wine and ate our dinner by the light of burning logs. With the image of the Irish couple fresh in mind I was, for a moment, envious of the sweetness of young love. But then I remembered that old love isn’t so bad either – and often includes a room with a fireplace.Jeffrey Bergeron under the alias of Biff America can be seen on RSN TV, heard on KOA radio, and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at’s book “Steep, Deep and Dyslexic” is available from local book stores or at Vail, Colorado

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