A painted portrait of Christian in 1987 at the age of 22.

For those keeping score at home, last week I briefly mentioned my 1988 jogging accident which left a three-inch vertical scar above my right eye. However, I left out a few important components to this true story, namely, the love for my college sweetheart, a painful lesson in jealousy, and a Department of Highways stop sign.

Is that enough of a hook to make you read on? If so, tread lightly, dear reader, because this column is about to become somewhat gory. But first, let’s turn back the hands of time to 1984.

On the first day of my second semester at West Virginia University, I answered my dorm room phone in Dadisman Hall and the female voice on the other end informed me she had dialed the wrong number. Not wanting to waste an opportunity to speak to a person of the opposite sex — and realizing she was the first female to call all year — I used all of my wit and charm in an attempt to keep this interesting wrong number on the line.

I learned the young girl was 18 years old and a freshman, like me, and she was living but two blocks away in Boreman Hall. A few silly jokes later and I mustered up enough courage to ask her to meet me. She accepted and the sparks flew from the instant I laid eyes on this beautiful and deeply intelligent blonde. We fell in love and dated for the next four years or so.

My college love was the result of a wrong number that was aided by my gift of gab. Fairly cool, huh?

We got along so famously that her talented mother even painted my portrait. Yes, that’s me all right, full head of hair and all, in 1987. It’s the only portrait of me that I own.

Years later, in the infamous “portrait-prank,” my two brothers, Fred and Bader, placed my portrait prominently in the back seat of a car window and continuously drove up and down the streets of White Sulphur Springs.

As for my college love, we never made it to the “happily ever after” part. By the fourth year, even though we were still living together, our lives were on different paths. She had found solace in the arms of another man. In a few months, she would move to Florida and marry him.

No need to cue the sad music here. Back then, I was not the easiest guy to live with, but I have mellowed over the years. Looking back now, I have nothing but fond memories of her and we even speak from time to time.

But back then, I became an emotional wreck, egged on and exaggerated by my own immaturity. I was living with my ex-girlfriend who was smitten with a man who lived a few doors away. That’s not the best recipe in the world.

A few weeks later, I found myself downing beer at Bader’s apartment across town — he was a sophomore by then — and I came up with an ingenious plan.

My ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend had taken a job as the midnight disc jockey at a local radio station and I knew the exact time that he walked to work each night. In fact, he had to walk across a very long bridge to get there. I had made up my mind to confront him on the bridge. I didn’t want to physically do anything to him; I just wanted to let him know he “had stolen my girl.” We already knew each other anyway; we had both worked at the college radio station together.

As I looked at my watch, I realized the hour was late, and I needed to get moving. I began jogging across town about 11:30 p.m. I was making good time too, weaving and dodging people like nobody’s business. I turned the corner and saw the lights of the bridge about five blocks away. Time was short, so I sped up a notch or two or three.

It was about that time that I ran directly into the middle of a stop sign. The shock of hitting a stop sign at roughly full speed made an acute impression on me. It also busted my head wide open, which took six stitches to close.

But before going to the hospital, I staggered home, and yes, she was there. Embarrassed, I told her I had been beaten over the head with a pool stick while trying to defend her honor. That was dumb.

So what’s the moral to this ill-fated story? First off, jealousy is for suckers. Second off, don’t sprint down a dark street after your ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend when you’re half-drunk; something might stop you. Carpe Diem, everybody. Have a great week.

— Christian lives in Greenbrier County. E-mail:

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