Like many of my wide-eyed peers, the late 60’s saw both my innocence lost and an awareness found. The drama of partisan politics, an inevitable move toward late night television viewing, and a Dion tune all changed my freshly stuccoed kingdom of escapism and awareness.
The world was indeed spinning around us and I wanted in. But those topics are poised fodder for future posts, but their mention sets a stage, albeit tenuous.
I was in Sr Mary Patrick’s sixth grade class at St Pius X Catholic School. I felt rather grown-up and my parents seemed to think so. It was finally time for me to ponder the “magical mystery” world of dating.
For three nights of sitting next to the phone, I was still unable to dial the seventh number. My father teased me. My sister giggled as she spied from the doorway.
I did it. I took a deep breath, sat back, and prayed she would answer the phone quickly. She, of course, didn’t. But alas, at least she finally did.
To protect her anonymity, some 46 years later, I will not reveal her name for she may be on Facebook. It is far more genteel to refrain from discussing such matters. Her initials, however, were the reverse of mine, SMcD.
My, how the sharing of details can lead to prosaic digression.
Anyway, Oh Patient Reader, I asked SMcD if she’d like to go to a movie the upcoming Saturday. She agreed without pause. On the other hand, she was caught off guard, of that I am certain. The lesson was to lead with spontaneity whenever possible.
Too much planning and notice often get lost in some neurotic and muddled puddle of anticipation, excuses, and uncertainty. Perhaps wavering, ambivalence or ennui follow. Beats me, Gentle Reader. I was only eleven years old.
That Saturday, my father dropped me off at my friend’s house in Fisher Park. The once opulent movie theater was only blocks away. We could simply stroll at some prepubescent pace. But we didn’t.
I was too excited. We had tickets to see “Yellow Submarine” and I was in my version of a frenzy.
The film was thrilling. The rapid cuts of color, music, song, and images were exhilarating. We had buttered popcorn and Cherry Cokes.
As we were exiting the theater and chattering away, the wind blew some particle of dust into my eye. I couldn’t get it out. Further, I was one of those repressed types that clamps down quickly on his/her eyelids. We kept walking so I could better conceal my frustration and panic. I had an idea.
Lane’s Drugstore was a nearby. We could get ice cream there. More to the point, the Pharmacist, Mr Stang, was certain to have a solution.
He rummaged through several drawers and emerged from underneath some cabinetry. Victory was, perhaps, mine. He brought over an eyewash. I had never heard of such a product but was approaching desperation. I prayed that the culprit would just disappear quickly and I could regain my composure.
Folowing Mr Stangs instructions, I raised the small cup to my eye to essentially rinse my cornea. However, I probably had no idea what a cornea really was.
I felt a chill, swooned a bit, and fainted … just steps away from the soda fountain. A silly sense of doom and embarrassment killed my appetite but I had a cone anyway. It would’ve been rude to allow SMcD to feel self conscious.
Over the next few hours, I walked her home and then to my father’s office where he was working and waiting for me to stop by. Hal’s Limousine Service seemed to always pull-up to the curb for a heavy tariff.
I scurried to my room to sulk a bit and examine my eye. With neither notice nor awareness as to when it actually happened, the fleck was flicked.
I turned on my radio and grabbed a book, planning to read for a bit before dinner. Recklessly and dramatically jumping onto the bed, I landed in the center with waning springs.
Peeking inside, I jumped for joy INTERNALLY. The “Yellow Submarine” album and a Heath bar were well-concealed in a bag. My mother was a pro at her rather consistent Saturday regime of shopping and errands. And I usually accompanied her.
For the rest of the day, save for dinner, the Beatles tunes filled the airwaves … from my room to my sister’s. Over to my parents’. And down the hallway to the rest of the house. One could probably hear a resounding “we all live in a …!” from outside the garage, if not beyond.
But I didn’t care. I had a new Beatles LP; my eyes were speckless but gleaming; and I had stepped across a soon-to-be teenaged milestone.
I had successfully completed my first date.
(Image: “Meat Train” by Mark Ryden, 2000.)