I’m talking about a ‘real’ date here! Oh, we all had those little ‘pretend dates’ where parents set up their preschoolers to go to a movie together. Those were cute and touched our mom’s hearts, but we were more victims than anything else. We were usually left wondering what it was all about. Frankly, we wanted to please our parents, but were too young to care about playing the role of a Casanova. Simply put, boys got to practice being a gentleman and acting a bit refined for once. The girls got to behave like a lady and pretend their ‘prince’ had arrived. For the most part, I suspect that neither really had their whole hearts in the date. I really would preferred to run off and watch the movie with the other boys and I’m sure the girl felt more like seeing her girlfriends. In the end, I stuck it out and walked the cute little muffin home. I did just as instructed and told her that I’d had a good time. I think we may have shaken hands, but then again maybe not. We never went out together again.
My first real date was one of those palm-sweating, too tight a collar events that in some ways I wished was over. Oh, I wanted to be with the girl this time, but I suspect that the pressure felt by both boy and girl was tough. At the same time it was exciting in its own way. My trepidations were self-inflicted since dating was strictly voluntary and a bit more than just an experiment. After all, I had a big hand in bringing the occasion about. No one forced me. This time I was fully taken by this girl’s beauty and knew that I was totally in love.
I didn’t know what to say and wasn’t sure I could have said it anyway. I was frozen stiff with fear of making some great social gaffe, so I made the dumb mistake of freezing up. I suspect at some point she got bored because I was nothing but an empty promise who couldn’t, or wouldn’t, talk. In retrospect I know that I was a total failure and disappointment. Even today I’m still kicking myself. What’s funny is that I don’t remember which lovely princess from my past, was the unlucky girl. If it was you, dear reader, please be kind and forgive me. I sincerely meant no harm but I didn’t have backbone or good sense to tell you how I felt. I now know that the silent treatment is punishment and not a good idea on the first date.
It began when I was musing about the idea of asking a certain lovely girl out, perhaps just to enjoy her company, when someone encouraged me right out of the clear blue sky to do just that. I was left wondering if this was fate in action. No, the person who suggested I ask her out wasn’t one of my friends, per se, but her closest friend. I was told in effect that she had admired me (from afar) for some time and wished I’d ask her out.
What a revelation! Wow! I’d be crazy not to take action when it seemed such a sure thing. Clearly, she wanted to go out with me! Wow! The risk of being turned down was minimal. In my mind’s eye, I pictured us sitting together in the darkness of some rear seats in the Garden Theater sharing a box of popcorn. She was such a beauty. With luck, maybe she’d let me hold her hand. Whoa! Then there was also an element of pride that my friends would take notice of my date. Imagine me out on the town with that beauty!
After a few days, I determined I would ask her. I started thinking of ways, or times I could spring the big question on her. Alas, the right opportunity didn’t present itself right away, or maybe if it did, I just was just plain clueless. Gulp. Talk about pressure. All I could think of was asking her out. I lay in bed at night sweating from stress. I thought of little else and pretended to family and friends that all was well. I found it hard even to concentrate on playing with my friends. The pressure kept building. . .
In my heart I knew it had to be a private moment when I’d be alone somehow with the young lady. That was pretty rare, because we didn’t hang out together and I was rarely at the places she frequented. When we were, there was usually a classroom full of other kids that might see, or overhear the event. If they did they’d have to tease and I’d be so embarrassed. Also, if she were to turn me down it wouldn’t be in front of witnesses.
Finally, my prayers were answered. We were somehow left together, alone. With all kinds of anxieties I finally asked her to go to a movie with me. Whew! That part was over but now was the multi-second (seemed like a year) anticipation of her answer. SHE ACCEPTED!!! SHE ACTUALLY SMILED AND SAID YES! YEAH!
I wish I could tell you that it turned out to be a perfect date. We went to the movie but I was afraid to ‘make a move.’ I was fearful of putting myself ‘out there’ with feelings and showing I cared, or that I was even with somebody for that matter. I was Mr. nonchalant himself; Mr. Cool. The poor girl likely suffered emotionally while she wondered if she had been wrong to go out with me. In truth, I was scared to death.
Finally, somewhere near the end of the movie I performed the famous move of lifting my arms and stretching. I then lowered one arm to rest around her shoulders. When she felt that closeness, she turned and looked up at me. Our faces were close as we looked into each other’s eyes. I couldn’t stand it. I kissed her. It was not one of those wonderful drawn out Hollywood kisses that I imagined might melt her heart down into her white bobby socks, but rather it was just a quick little smack. It was for me a heartfelt kiss even if it was a quickie. A barrier had been crossed and we were on a real date! I leaned back into my seat to watch the movie. It was then that I noticed what film was playing. Our heads came together and we snuggled while watching the movie together. It was as if we were on our own valentine card trimmed in lace and sprinkled with red hearts.
When I walked her home we stopped at Ed Land’s Sundry or Dee’s drive-in for a pop. While laughing and talking she agreed to go out with me again. She told me she had a great time. As it happens, our second kiss, this one a good-night kiss, turned out to be our last. I don’t recall why, but maybe her father had witnessed that kiss and took the family off to Texas, California, or someplace. Maybe it was fate and just meant to be that way. All I knew at the time is that I had somehow survived the event and was still among the living. What mattered was that the pressure was off. Now I was suave, debonair and so cool. Not! I wasn’t any of those and I knew it.
After that, I went to school dances with other girls and was just as shy as ever. One of my nightmare memories was of being so shy that I was undoubtedly a total washout. Another poor girl had made the mistake of going out with me. Still, there’s something good to be said about boys and girls that retain a level of innocence. While the media tries to teach us to be free spirited men and women of the world, I think it better we learn slowly and show respect each for the other. In fact, I wish I could be that person still, but then again, who wants to suffer through all that stress?