I should have known disaster was on the horizon the night my wife told me that she'd had a call from Monica. It was at the dinner table and my first tip off should have been the fact that everything on the table was from my list of favorites. Meat loaf, scalloped potatoes au gratin, French style green beans and sourdough bread hot from the oven. Midway through the meal Audrey said:
"Guess who I heard from today. Monica Speers. She moved back to town and wants to get together for lunch."
"Moved back to town? XYZ doesn't have offices here. Did Tom quit them?"
"I guess she and Tom are divorced."
I knew what I wanted to say to that and I knew that it would not go over well so I kept my mouth shut. I would have bet that it was because Tom finally caught her cheating. I did not like Monica and I had never liked Audrey associating with her, but if there was one thing I knew it was that there was no way you could come between two girls who had been best friends since the second grade.
I didn't meet Audrey and Monica until high school and it was a case of 'instants.' I instantly fell ass end over tea kettle for Audrey and I instantly disliked Monica. There was just something about her that did not ring right.
I would like to be able to say that Audrey was as instantly attracted to me as I was to her, but that wasn't the case. I tried a dozen times to get Audrey to go out with me but with no luck and I always felt that it was because of Monica. Monica hit the ground running when she started high school. She was a hot looking freshman who looked like she was twenty and the juniors and seniors flocked to her and as a result she was dating them from almost her first day. It always seemed that the guy she was dating had a friend he wanted to double date with so Monica would set up the friend with Audrey.
By the tenth grade Monica had a reputation as a 'wild child' who could be counted on to give it up by the third date. Audrey also had a reputation. She was known as "The Ice Queen." She would neck, but she wouldn't put out. I heard about double dates where she and Monica would end up in a bedroom and Monica would strap on her date while Audrey sat on the edge of the bed and swapped tongues with hers (I never had the nerve to ask Audrey if there was any truth to the stories). I'd even heard (and Bud Wilson swears that it is true) that when Monica had finished draining her date she would take on Audrey's date. So what I got whenever I asked Audrey out was:
"Sorry Rob, but I already have a date for that night."
Eventually I added Audrey to the list of things I wanted, but could never have.
Two weeks after the start of the eleventh grade I was sitting in a booth at Harry's Malt Shop, a student hangout, when someone slid into the booth opposite me. I looked up from the Civics text book I was reading and saw Audrey. She smiled and said:
"How have you been?"
"Pretty good. I see you are studying Civics. Who do you have?"
"Anderson in second period."
"I've got her in fifth."
She was silent for a second or two and then said, "It has been a while since I've seen you."
"Well you know how it is. You get busy and things kind of slide."
A little more silence and then, "There is a party at Nancy Neubert's this Friday. Would you like to go with me?"
That caught me flat-footed. I had tried for two years to get a date with her with no luck at all and here she was asking me. It took me a couple of seconds to come up with a reply.
"I haven't been invited."
"I have and I can bring a date. Would you like to go?"
"Yes, I would."
"Okay then; meet me tomorrow at lunch in the cafeteria and we can discuss the details."
"What time to pick me up, where we are going and things like that."
"Oh sure, details. Right."
As she walked away I sat and wondered just what the hell had happened. And then it dawned on me. All the juniors and seniors that Monica and Audrey had been dating had graduated and had moved on to college where there were plenty of girls and they didn't need to mess around with high school girls any more. That meant that if Audrey and Monica wanted dates they were stuck with their previously ignored classmates. Whatever the reason I wasn't going to complain.
My mother let me borrow her car on Friday and I drove over and picked up Audrey. When we got to Nancy's we found that the party was spread all through the house. The garage had been cleared out so there would be a place to dance and the Neubert's had turned their basement into a rec room with a pool table, a ping-pong table and an air hockey table.
When Audrey and I went into the garage the first person we saw was Monica. She was with four guys at the back of the garage where there was a table with a reel to reel tape player on it. The tape was playing dance tunes and Monica saw us just about the time we saw her. She came over to us and said to Audrey:
"Glad you could make it."
Audrey asked me if I would find out where the refreshments were and get her a Coke or a Pepsi and that is where I made my first mistake. I should have kept her with me. I found the refreshments in the kitchen and by the time I got back to the garage Audrey was dancing with one of the guys who had been with Monica when we arrived. Because my parents had taken the time to teach me manners I stood off to the side and waited for the song to end and that was my second mistake.
As soon as the song ended the next song on the reel began to play and another one of the guys who had been talking with Monica stepped up and started dancing with Audrey. I saw Audrey see me standing there with a Pepsi in my hand for her, but she didn't pull away from the guy and come to me. About half way into the dance Monica came over to me and reached out for the Pepsi I was holding for Audrey and said:
"I'll take that. You might as well find something else to do. She's going to be busy for a while."
While she was saying that the music stopped. I started toward Audrey and she was standing there looking at me starting toward her when the next song started. A third guy took her arm and she let him start dancing with her. She saw me walking towards her with the soft drink she had asked me to get for her and she let herself be pulled into a dance and then to add insult to injury she never looked my way again.
I let Monica take the Pepsi and I walked over and tapped the guy on the shoulder and said:
"Screw off jerk."
"She is my date and I'm cutting in."
"Beat it asswipe" the guy said and he reached out with his left hand to push me away. When he pushed at me I grabbed his hand and jerked. It pulled him off balance and I just kept pulling until I ran him into the wall. His head bounced against the wall and it stunned him and he slid down to the floor. While all that was going on Audrey was saying:
"Stop this Rob; stop this now. You are embarrassing me."
I looked at her and said, "I'm embarrassing you? Well we sure wouldn't want that" and I left the garage, got in my car and went home.
Monday morning I was at my locker getting ready to go to first period when Nancy Neubert came up to me and said:
"I should be pissed at you for creating a disturbance at my party, but I'm not. Doug is a real butt head and I'm glad someone stepped up and shut him down."
"Sorry. It was poor manners on my part."
"You don't need to apologize. Doug wasn't even invited but your date was a little pissed that you went off and left her."
"She left me first. It seems she was more interested in the guys Monica was with than me."
"Aud would be okay if she could just break away from Monica."
"Maybe I'll have better luck next time."
"Good luck" she said as she moved off to her first class.
I didn't have any shared morning classes with Audrey so I didn't expect to see her until out one o'clock calculus class. I guess it shouldn't have been a surprise (given that Nancy had already told me how upset Audrey was that I'd gone off and left her) that she sat down across from me in the cafeteria at lunch time. I looked up at her and she sat there and said nothing so I went back to eating my lunch and reviewing my notes from Civics. After maybe a minute Audrey said:
"Are you just going to sit there?"
"What do you expect me to do, dance?"
"I expect you to tell me why you acted like a total ass and then I expect an apology for the way you behaved toward me."
"You expect to live to be a hundred?"
"Easy question Audrey; do you expect to live to be a hundred? Because it will be your hundredth birthday before you get an apology from me for what your behavior caused me to do last Friday."
"My behavior? Are you out of your mind?"
"No, but you must have been if you thought that I would put up with what you did."
"What I did?"
"Yes Audrey, what you did. We no sooner got to the party and you send me off to get you a Coke and then you busied yourself with all the guys who were hanging with Monica when we got there. You even sent Monica over to tell me to take a hike."
"I never did that!"
"You deny sending Monica over to tell me to bug off?"
"She would never do something like that."
.... There is more of this story ...