It had its start in high school. If it had happened a few years later it probably wouldn’t have amounted to much, but when you are a teenager you don’t look ahead to the possible consequences of your actions.
Sue Ellen and I had been going steady for a little over a year and we had actually been talking marriage when we got out of college. Looking back I could see where it was probably silly of us. I mean we still had to graduate from high school and God only knew what would or could happen before we even graduated from college. As it was we never even made it out of high school.
Two weeks before senior prom Sue Ellen broke a date with me. She said she had to go somewhere with her parents. Those things did happen and I accepted it and found something else to do. Later that evening I stopped in at Harry’s Malt Shack. I was sitting there when Bill Neubert came in, saw me and came over to join me. He ordered a burger, fries and a strawberry milk shake and then said:
“I didn’t know that you and Sue Ellen broke up. What happened?”
“Why do you think we broke up?”
“I just saw her and Harry Short necking in the parking lot behind the movie.”
“When was this?”
“About ten minutes ago.”
I guess I must have surprised him when I jumped up and hurried out. It took me less than four minutes to get to the Rialto and sure enough Sue Ellen and Harry were parked in the back of the lot making out. They were in a clinch and didn’t even notice me when I walked up. I watched for about a minute and then I knocked on the window. They pulled apart and both sets of eyes went wide when they saw me. I looked at Sue Ellen and said “Goodbye.” I don’t know if she heard me through the window glass, but I emphasized it by waving goodbye to her. I walked away from the car and went home.
The next day was Saturday and I went to my part-time job at Boysen’s Super Market. When I got home my mother told me that Sue Ellen had called several times trying to get in touch with me.
“You should probably give her a call.”
“Don’t think so. We broke up last night and I really don’t think we have anything to say to each other.”
I went on to my room and worked on a paper that was due on Wednesday. I was typing it when the phone rang and my mother called out;
“It’s for you Rob.”
I went out to the kitchen, took the phone from mom and said “Hello?”
“Can I come over Robbie” Sue Ellen asked.
“No need to. We have nothing to talk about. I said all that I needed to say when I waved goodbye to you last night. You lied to me when you broke our date and so as far as I am concerned you were cheating on me with Harry. Nothing you can say is going to change any of that. Goodbye” and I hung up on her.
Sunday was another work day for me, but I only worked four hours. If you were under eighteen you could only work part-time and were limited to twenty hours a week and the way it was scheduled I worked eight on Saturday and four on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. I was actually eighteen, but I never told them that I’d had a birthday because then they would have scheduled me for more hours and I didn’t want that. It would pretty much have meant my life would be nothing but school and work and I wasn’t anywhere near ready for that. Part-time gave me enough money to put gas in my car and give me some spending money.
Sue Ellen was waiting for me at the front door when I got to school on Monday. I started to walk by her, but she stepped in front of me and said:
“We have to talk Robbie.”
I couldn’t see making a scene in front of everybody so I said “At lunch” and gently pushed her out of my way. She was already at a table and waiting for me when I got to the school cafeteria at lunch time. I sat down in a chair opposite her and before she could say a word I said:
“You broke our date because you said you had to go someplace with your mom and dad. Unless they were in the trunk of Harry’s car that means that you lied to me. What you were doing with Harry when I knocked on the window was cheating on me. That’s cut and dried. So what do we have to talk about?”
“It didn’t mean anything Robbie.”
“Of course it meant something.”
“No it didn’t. It was just me trying to satisfy my curiosity.”
“You know you are the only boy I’ve ever kissed. I just wondered what another boy would be like.”
“As far as I know I’m the only boy you have ever made love with. Was that going to be the next curiosity you were going to satisfy?”
“Of course not! How can you even think something like that of me?”
“Given what I caught you doing it is pretty easy for me to think something like that. You weren’t doing a damned thing to keep his hands off of your tits and I sure didn’t see you trying to stop the hand that was on your leg and moving up. You broke a date with me and lied about it. That’s the bottom line Sue Ellen. You should have been up front with me. If you had I might have been able to get by tour going on a date with another guy, but the way you did it ended our relationship.”
“It doesn’t have to be that way Robbie.”
“Maybe not as far as you are concerned Sue Ellen, but it does have to be that way as far as I’m concerned. Goodbye Sue Ellen.”
I got up from the table and walked away from her.
I suppose there are some who might say I was being a bit of an asshole for taking a stance like that given that I was only a teenager, but then they might not have grown up in a home with a single mom because of a father who cheated on her and then skipped town when he found out home much alimony and child support he was ordered to pay. It might not have been according to our legal system, but as far as I was concerned cheating was a criminal offense. Whatever! What I have just described set up the event that was going to have far reaching consequences.
My breaking up with Sue Ellen left me without a date to the senior prom. The only girls I knew well enough to ask were already spoken for so I was either going to have to go stag or skip it. The more I thought about it the surer I was that I wouldn’t enjoy it going stag so I made the decision not to go.
It was a Tuesday and I’d just gotten home from work and was sitting at the kitchen table studying when the doorbell rang and mom called out and said there was someone here to see me. I went out to the living room and found Pauline French sitting there and talking to my mom. Mom got up and said she would leave the room to give us some privacy.
I’d known Pauline since the third grade and at one time, before I met Sue Ellen, I’d had a bit of a crush on Paulie.
“What brings you over here tonight” I asked.
“I heard that you and Sue Ellen broke up. Is it true?”
“What are you going to do as far as the prom is concerned?”
“Not going. Why are you asking?”
“Because I want to go, but I don’t want to go by myself.”
“Why? Did something happen to Bert?”
“You might say that. I caught him making out with Bev Abbeg at Nancy Wilde’s birthday party and broke up with him. Could I possibly interest you in being my prom date?”
It was a no-brainer for me. I wanted to go, but wasn’t because I didn’t have a date so of course I said:
“I’d love to take you to the prom.”
We discussed the details and then I walked her to the door. She surprised me when she threw her arms around me and kissed me.
“You won’t be sorry Rob; I promise you that you won’t be sorry.”
That was open to interpretation. The part about my not being sorry. Word gets around fast in high school and when I walked up to my car after class the next day I found Bert Ellsworth leaning on my left front fender.
“What’s this shit I’m hearing that you are taking Pauline to the prom?”
“No you aren’t motherfucker. Pauline is my bitch and you aren’t going anywhere with her.”
“She says otherwise. She said she broke up with you.”
“I don’t give a rat’s ass what she said. She’s mine until I say she isn’t.”
“No problem. Have her call me and tell me that, but until I hear from her she’s my prom date.”
I reached for the door handle and he grabbed my shoulder and started to spin me around to face him. Knowing Bert and his reputation as a hothead I expected that as soon as I turned he was going to send a fist at my face so instead of fighting his attempt to turn me I quickly spun around and as I turned I clenched my fist, raised my right arm and by the time I was facing him my fist was already on its way to his head. He wasn’t expecting it and it crashed into his jaw. It stunned and staggered him. I got myself set for a charge and said:
“Bring it asshole.”
He shook his head a couple of times to clear it, took a long look at me and must have decided to let it go.
“This ain’t over motherfucker” and he turned and walked away.
I got in my car and headed in to work.
On prom night I had a great time with Pauline. I did have to share her as far as dancing went, but I also danced with some other girls. The only sore spot was that Sue Ellen was there with Bobby Holbrook and she spent the night throwing nasty glances at me and Pauline, but we ignored her.
.... There is more of this story ...