Tuesday, February 22, 2011

First date

I challenge you to remember your first date.  For younger people, this may not be much of a dare, but for those of the "silent generation" and the "baby boomers," remembering that far back is a struggle.  For some of us seniors, what we had for breakfast is already a fading memory.  Of course having a bad memory or no memory at all isn't always a negative thing as there are a few events in life one may definitely want to forget.  It seems ironic, though, those are the memories that usually don't go away but haunt you forever.  One positive about a bad memory is that you never hear old jokes.

Back in the days of my youth (yes, we had electricity), we were told girls matured faster than boys. My oldest sister, Norma, told me that and my next older sister, Donna, added, "and they never catch up." This is food for thought. As I observe my friends, both singles and couples, and consider the actions of women versus those of men, I believe there might be a good argument for such a theory.

However, I have a fantastic memory.  I...er, I...er, what was my point?  Oh yeah, I remember my teachers from kindergarten on.  I especially remember my third grade teacher, Miss MacBeth, because she was my first major crush. You may think being only in the third grade may seem a little early for a boy to have any sexual urges, but I was much more mature than most - it may be because I was 15.

However, in the fourth grade, all of our gang including Dick, Ralph, John, Dave and Manny discovered some educational literature depicting pictures of nude women.  We became, not exactly avid readers, but "speed lookers" might be more apropos.  Mrs. Hoffman, our fourth grade teacher at North Street School, caught us one day thumbing through the World Book encyclopedia in the back of the room looking for tantalizing pictures (I think we were up to book W-Z), but to no avail.  Sending us to have a motherly chat with Miss Campbell, the principal, proved most interesting.  She obviously had similar experiences with young boys before and handled it well - she scared the crap out of us.  I've been impotent every since.  It was like a verbal edition of the videos about social diseases they used to show servicemen to dissuade them from sexual activity with the natives of any port of call.

Undaunted, my interest in the fairer sex increased.  As I look back, I realize being the baby brother of two sisters may have impacted my life tremendously.  I remember (yes, I do remember) my sisters having "sleep overs" and "pajama parties" quite often.  Our house was inundated with half-naked older and more well developed girls running around and I suffered the consequences.  We all have to make sacrifices.  But I digress.

The queen of our fourth grade class, as far as I was concerned, was named Lorraine.  I'm sure many of the guys shared my enthusiasm toward this young beauty, but were too shy to act on it or possibly had no idea on how to act on it.  Being somewhat precocious, I garnered enough courage to ask her for a date to go to the movies on a Friday night.  To bolster my courage I talked my buddy, Dick, into tagging along.

Oh, I remember it well.  My mother, who questioned my intentions, finally gave in to my pleading and begrudgingly gave me two quarters to take Lorraine to the movies.  Asking my father for money was out of the question especially for this lark.  I certainly didn't want to risk his health - he probably would have suffered a stroke from laughing so hard.  Acquiring the price of two tickets was a real victory for me because the cost of a movie had just risen from 15 cents to a whopping 25.  Afraid to meet her parents alone, I asked Dick to accompany me.  On the walk to her house, he reassured me I was doing the right thing, but when I knocked on her front door, he wimped out backing into the shadows.  So there I stood alone trying to display false bravado when her mother opened the door.  I didn't know which scared me the most, meeting her mother or actually taking Lorraine to the Capitol Theater.

I stood there alone, quivering like the last leaf on an elm tree anticipating a hurricane.  Then the worst case scenario played out; my date wasn't ready (the first of many times) and her mother invited me in.  Oh, no!  Fearing an inquisition, I didn't want to enter the house, but I crossed the threshold as I heard Dick slither further into the bushes.  Luckily for me, Lorraine put on her coat and headed for the door just as her mother told me what time she expected her daughter back home.  We bolted out the door like rats abandoning a sinking ship and covered two blocks before my brave comrade showed his head.

Walking to the theater, I noticed how composed my date acted especially in contrast to me.  My palms sweat even though it was November.  My heart pounded in my throat, but that wasn't a problem because Dick and Lorraine chatted like we were at the school playground during recess.  When we reached the inside ticket office, my shaky hand dropped one quarter and it rolled down the mosaic-tiled lobby floor back toward the front doors.  I imagined only buying one ticket so my buddy and my date could see the movie together and I could go home where, by this time, I thought I should have stayed.  As I stood there listening to the coin roll on and on, the lobby began to approximate the length of a football field.  Did somebody suddenly steamroll this place?  I gawked at the quarter and wanted to run to it, but I was frozen in place with embarrassment. Other people in line stared at me in expectation -- their eyes urging me to move, retrieve the quarter, buy this poor girl's ticket and move ahead.  Lorraine finally nudged me into action while my loyal pal snickered.  Maybe his attendance wasn't my best decision after all.

I have no earthly idea what double feature the three of us witnessed that night.  To me the horror show had already been acted out in the lobby.  Now you may chuckle because I have forgotten the movies and believe this is due to old geezer memory lapse.  Not so, dear reader, my mind was so chuck full of mixed emotions, I didn't know then what movies we had seen when we walked out of the theater.  I do recall our stroll back home though.  A light snow began to fall and Dick accompanied us only as far as his block.  He opted for the warmth of his house and left me to walk my date the rest of the way solo.  Thoughts of holding her hand weren't backed up with courage to try.  We reached her house in time to beat the imposed curfew.  This was the moment.  We stood under the soft glow of the streetlight; the gentle white snow flakes tenderly coming to rest on her hair, shoulders and eyelashes.  I thought she was stunning and my heart stopped as she turned toward me, looked at me lovingly with her beautiful eyes, tilted her head slightly upward and as she barely parted her lips...her mother called her in.  This curse of "close but no cigar" followed me all my life.

1 comment:

  1. Ed --

    Great story. My first was not as dramatic, but rather a sqaundered oportunity, insofar as the chances for a nine-year-old were apt to go. More than that, the lucky girl was my second choice; it was not "Joyce," but "Patty," who turned out be one of those "really somethings" in later life. Patty-with-the-pigtails was my date to a nickel dance in the high school gym, and the only touching was confined to that associated with our attempts at the fox trot. There was frequent blushing throughout. Welcome to geek-ville. Then again, it was the cheapest date I ever had.

    John K.

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