When you’re in your twenties, you’re stupid. Really stupid. You think you’re smart, worldly, and know everything, but you know very little. I was in my early twenties when I was teaching in a rural school district not far from my hometown. I was living at home because my salary did not afford me the same comfortable accommodations as my parents’ home, the one I had been living in since high school. As an only child, I had my own bedroom and private bath. I even had a private staircase up to my living quarters. Why would I want to leave to live in a dumpy apartment?

Almost at the beginning of the school year, I began dating a fellow teacher. Ron was very attractive, with longish black hair and blue eyes. He was tall, lean and athletic. And single. He taught English and loved to write poetry. He was so cool. And he lived alone on the ground floor of an older house not far from the high school where we both taught.

I would often have dinner with him (and he even cooked) and then spend the night there. We would have wine and then I noticed he would drink something else besides the wine, just before we’d go to bed. It turned out to be cough syrup. This was strange, I thought. He didn’t have a cough. Of course, Ron wasn’t taking the syrup for his non-existent cough but for the high it gave him. I should note here, that he was quite energetic in bed. This particular syrup contained codeine and a prescription was required, although quite a few of our local and less-than-reputable doctors were rather lax in prescribing narcotics. I would sometimes take some of the syrup too. The problem was, it put me to sleep, just the opposite reaction it gave Ron.

He seemed to be able to procure prescriptions but when he had used up all his allotted refills, he needed to go across the border into Pennsylvania. Local pharmacists began to eye him with suspicion as he had “maxed” out the amount of prescriptions allowed for one person. I would go with him on these illicit quests. I knew what he/we were doing was illegal, but when you’re in love, or at least, in lust, well, sensible thinking is not in your wheelhouse.

Because we were teaching in a very conservative area, with a very conservative Board of Education and even more conservative parents, we were under constant scrutiny. One never knew who was watching and when they would pounce, catching you in the act of something they deemed “inappropriate” for a teacher. This was made even riskier as several parents lived on his street and the chance I could be seen emerging from Ron’s apartment in the morning was high. His house faced a major street in town so even my leaving his house in the very early morning posed a challenge.

I ended up crawling out his back window where he had a small alleyway where I would park my car. The alley emptied onto a small side street where I could make my unseen getaway.

This worked out okay until one morning I slipped on black ice and twisted my ankle. When the harsh show and ice of February hit, climbing out the window took on epic issues for me. Twice I nearly broke my arm falling onto the ground. My reluctance to risk life and limb climbing out of his window, and Ron’s increasing dependence on codeine, began to lessen the thrill of our clandestine affair. These two factors, combined with the innate knowledge that I was doing something wrong and would eventually be caught for illegal procurement of cough syrup, ultimately brought our relationship to an end.

My parents were quite liberal and aware of my relationship with Ron, but would have been horrified to know why I broke it off. I claimed he was seeing another woman. I kept the real reason a secret as I didn’t want my parents to think they had raised a complete moron. Up to now, no one has been privy to my youthful and foolish escapade. Let’s keep it a secret. Okay?

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