As Eric was remembering what had happened that night, twelve years earlier, his pulse quickened, and his breath got shorter. He watched Debby carefully for any negative indications that his excitement at being picked up and carried by a girl was displeasing to her, but seeing none, he continued. "Now remember Debby, I'm this kinda skinny 15-year-old high school sophomore in front of all my buds. Diane is standing about 6 inches below me, when she grabs my arm, ducks her head, and pulls me right over her shoulder, then she stands up and carries me up the next two steps, and over to where my towel is. That was about 30 feet, I think. Everyone there cheers her on. I'm kinda helpless, flopped over her shoulder. I do remember she had really strong-looking legs, though!" At this, Debby burst out laughing. "You remember she had strong-looking legs? This girl is carrying you all around her friend's yard, in front of all your classmates, and that's what you remember?" She laughed again. "Oh, Eric, you are a character! So, how long did this amazon hold you?" Eric looked at Debby, and wondered if he had gone too far, or maybe misread her feelings earlier. Was she disappointed or did she disapprove? Was she making fun? He wasn't certain. He thought to himself, "Oh well, might as well go all the way." "She put me down right where my towel was, then she gave me another hug and swung me around while she kissed me on the forehead. But she was so nice, not making fun or shaming me at all, just, you know, being her! But then, Beth decided she wanted to show off a little, too. And Beth was definitely in a mood to embarrass me. I didn't pay her any attention after her little hissy when Diane had subdued her. Suddenly she was behind me. Remember, Debby, she played a lot of tennis, and her arm strength showed it. I didn't see or hear her, but suddenly I was locked in this bear hug from behind! I felt this little wet head in the middle of my neck, then I could hardly breathe. Now when Beth and I were going together, we almost never did anything real physical, like wrestle, or anything. She always seemed too concerned about her feminine image- didn't want to be a tomboy. But that night, apparently she didn't care. Slowly she leaned back and lifted me just a little off the ground, and walked awkwardly to the edge of the pool, with me firmly trapped in her arms. Oh, by the way there is also a picture of that in my yearbook! I couldn't believe she had that kind of strength, but she did. She stood right on the edge with my feet dangling over the water and then just fell in with me. As we came to the surface, she looked at me and said for everyone to hear, something like, 'Are there any girls here who can't throw you around?' I think I must have turned beet red, cause the laughter was more restrained this time, as though the others were embarrassed for me, you know? But really, I wasn't so embarrassed as they might have thought. After all, that's no big deal, when you don't weigh much, so what? Actually it's healthier, right?" Debby looked at Eric, still with that quizzical smile and said, "And how many of the other girls did throw you around, after that?" Eric looked sheepish. "Most of them," he answered. "There was this tall, skinny one, I think her name was Barb. She said she wanted to try, cause her little sister, who was only 11, weighed the same as her, and was always showing off to her friends that she could pick Barb up in her arms. It got to be kind of a contest. All the girls that wanted to try, and that was all but two, I think, got in line by height. Barb went first, cause she was the tallest. It was comical, because she didn't know how to do it. Diane wound up being the 'instructor,' demonstrating for everyone who wanted, on them, as they waited in line. She showed them all the over the shoulder way, cause she said it was the easiest when you knew how. For the first four girls, cause they were all taller than me, I had to stand on this little stool, about 8 inches off the ground, so they wouldn't hurt their backs. I don't know if it was peer pressure or what, but don't you know, every girl in line picked me up and carried me about 30 or 40 feet! Not one would quit. Of course some had no problem. There was a girl named Karen who was about 5 feet tall, but she had to weigh 185 pounds! She scared me! She just scooped me up in her arms, a lot like Diane had scooped up Beth, and held me and kept tossing me up and catching me. I think she's in Roller Derby now. But the biggest surprise of all was this really quiet girl, Donna. She was the last one, cause she was the shortest. I don't think she was more than 4� feet tall, and I'll bet she didn't weigh over 90 pounds; in fact, my baby sister who was 9 at the time was bigger than Donna. But Donna was a gymnast. And, being short, she had all the leverage, you know? Next to Karen and Diane, she had the easiest time. She just pulled me into a fireman's carry, and walked all the way around the pool! When she let me back down, she wasn't even out of breath! Then, because she was so pleased, she went to her boyfriend, who was also a gymnast, maybe my height, but much more muscular and at least 20 pounds heavier.she picked him up over her shoulder and paraded him around in front of the others. She also got the most applause, by the way." Eric looked at his watch. "Good lord," he exclaimed, "it's nearly 10. I've been boring you for over two hours with these stories of my youth. And you seem to be still awake!" Debby looked at this unusual man before her, chuckling. He was attractive enough, seemed reasonably intelligent, could speak well and was socially comfortable. Most importantly to her, he was happy with his manhood, even was admitting to this fetish of sorts, with little self- consciousness. Maybe this would work out. She thought back to her last relationship. Dan had been such a sweet guy, but then, wrestling around one afternoon, she got him off balance, and put him into an airplane spin. Debby would never have imagined he would get so angry. It was as if he had become someone else, someone she didn't know, and wouldn't want to know. Why were some men so fragile, in a matter of speaking, about strong women? Why did they feel that a strong woman made them appear weaker? And now, what about Eric. Was he too good to be true? Only time would tell.