As a junior in high school, without realizing it, my hormones were asserting themselves…peach fuzz on my chin and red blotches all over my fifteen year old face. I liked girls. I liked the way they looked, moved, talked, smelled…everything. I spent a lot of time just thinking about them.
So, when the High School Valentine’s Day Dance came along, and even though I had no clue on the dance floor, I wanted to go. It was one of those I’m-afraid-but-want-to things. You know, like your first head-first dive off a diving board.The first problem was with whom. My class only had twenty-eight kids and nineteen were guys, so the pickings were slim. Almost all the sophomore girls were dating somebody, but there was one…one who really caught my eye.
Now understand, of course Valentine’s Day is February 14th and I’m considering all of this in November. I had at least two months to plan my approach, fine tune it, find the right timing, then pop the question. Well, it would seem like I had plenty of time, but I kept delaying. I would wait until I had a fresh haircut, but each time something else was not perfect. Like my white buck shoes being scuffed or my Levi’s wrinkled…always something.
In late January, my mom asked me my plans and I told her I was working on it. She said if I was going to ask somebody, I needed to give the girl plenty of time to buy a dress. At least a couple of weeks. I had to act fast. Meantime, everybody knew. I had quietly told my best friend, I was going to ask Gail and in twenty-four hours, everybody knew. Even she knew. I would pass her in the hall and she would look at me, raise her eyebrows like “Well, would you get this over” and I would hesitate, lose my nerve and walk on. I could see some disgust on her face.
It was a late Friday afternoon one week before the big day and I’m walking toward my locker and there’s Gail standing next to it. She gave me plenty of time to ask, but I was absolutely tongue-tied. Finally, she just said, “Pick me up at seven.” smiled and walked away. I was a namby-pamby coward.
The big night arrived. At fifteen I didn’t have a driver’s license so that meant my mom had to take me to pick Gail up. Our car was a 1954 Mercury two door hard top. No back door. So, when we arrived to pick her up, I rang the bell, she stepped out and when we got to the car, I didn’t know what to do. Should I sit in the back and her in the front? Or her in the back and me in the front? Or both of us in the back? But my mother was there! Awkwardly, I stood there and she got in the back, then slid over which was the signal for me to sit next to her. She had an embarrassed smile on her face, but she had saved me again.
I won’t bore you with the details of the dance because there’s not enough space, but the trip back to her house was worth noting. With my mom driving again, she pulled up in front of Gail’s house. The porch light was shining ever so bright and my mom was watching (I know she was laughing). At front of her door, I froze again. There I was. My first date ever, looking gorgeous, my mom looking from the car only thirty feet away. No privacy. No guts. My armpits were sweating.
I was holding her hand. She knew what was going on. She tugged on my hand and I kissed her…on the cheek. That was the best I could do.
Just call me a wimp.