I saw her when she walked in from the parking lot and nothing had changed. My heart still did flip flops and my blood started racing. I was surprised to see her alone and then I thought he had probably dropped her off close to the group and then went to park the car. I knew she would be there and I knew how I would react to seeing her and that is the main reason that it took my twin brother Rich so long to talk me into coming. For some reason that I didn't understand he attached great importance to me being in attendance.
I watched as she walked over and joined us at our table. She looked at me and gave me a 1000 watt smile and I just nodded to acknowledge her. She immediately started talking with Bev and Nancy. Beverly Abbeg, now Rich's wife, Nancy Wilde and Michelle had been thick as thieves all the way from the third grade through high school graduation. College split them apart because Bev was going to attend the local community college and Nancy had a scholarship to EU. Michelle had opted to attend State and I found out later that she chose State because that is where Stan North was going. Stan North! A bigger asshole never lived and I spent years killing him in my imagination. I honestly believe that I would have done it in real life if I could have been sure of getting away with it. Stan had been the quarterback on our team and was going to State on an athletic scholarship and every one expected that he would end up in the pros. He was that good.
As I watched Mickey exchange cheek kisses and hugs with Bev and Nancy my thoughts wandered back to a much happier time. It was in the ninth grade that it started. I had been classmates with Mickey, Bev and Nancy since the sixth grade and I guess you could say that we were friends. We didn't hang together or anything like that, but we saw each other every school day and we got along.
I was your typical kid. Played vacant lot baseball and football with my friends, rode our bikes all over town and got in trouble doing stupid shit on Halloween and did just about everything that you did as a kid. It was gradual – it didn't happen over night – but I became aware of girls. You know what I mean. I stopped seeing them as classmates and began to get interested in them. The one I got the most interested in was Michelle Coachman. I don't even know why. Does anyone really know why you fall for a certain girl at that age? All I know is that Mickey was the first one I looked for when I got to school in the morning. I found reasons to be around her.
I finally got brave and asked her if she would like to go to the movies with me on Saturday and I was surprised when she said yes. It was a double feature and I can't even remember the two films that were playing. The entire time I kept glancing over at Mickey. I do remember that around the middle of the second film I discovered that we were holding hands and I don't even know how that happened. It just did.
After the movie we stopped at The Soda Shoppe for cherry Cokes and we held hands as I walked her home. Unfortunately I didn't get brave until the last day of school and when I got her home and asked her to go out with me again the following Saturday she said that she wished that she could, but she was leaving the next day to spend the summer at her grandparent's farm. She promised me that she would call me as soon as she got back and then we could have that movie date. I didn't realize at the time that a teenaged girls promises were about as valid as a TV weatherman's five day forecast.
I stayed busy that summer playing pick up baseball with my buddies, going camping and mowing lawns for spending money. Two weeks before school was supposed to start me, Richard and a couple of my friends went to the Rialto to catch the afternoon double feature and when we got in line to buy our tickets I saw Mickey, Bev and Nancy at the head of the line. When we got inside and were waiting in line at the refreshment stand for popcorn I asked Mickey when she had gotten back and she told me that she had been home for almost a month. She'd forgotten all about her promise to call. It upset me a little because I had walked away from that first date thinking that we had something going, but I wasn't going to say anything in front of Rich, Sam, Dave, Bev and Nancy.
The seven of us sat together and after the movie we all walked over the Soda Shoppe for cherry Cokes. We talked about what we had done over the summer and then we split up and went home. The next day I called Mickey and reminded her that she said she would go out with me again when she came back to town. I did not mention her promise. I asked her to the movies the next Saturday and she said yes.
Saturday I walked over to her house to get her and as we walked toward downtown her hand took hold of mine and we held hands all through the double feature. We held hands as I walked her home and then she surprised me and kissed me on the cheek when I got her to her door. I asked her if she would like to go roller skating with me at Skate City the next day and she said that she would love to.
By the time school started we had dated five times and I was starting to consider Mickey 'my girl.' A week after school started I found out that even though I was thinking of Mickey as 'my girl' she was a long way from thinking of me as 'her guy.' I asked her what she would like to do on Saturday and she told me that she thought Tommy was taking her to the amusement park.
"Yes. Tommy Reed asked me to go out with him on Saturday."
"Oh. Have fun" I said as I turned and walked away from her.
Walking home from school Rich asked me why I was so quiet and I told him why.
"You didn't know that she's been dating other guys?"
"No. I thought that I was the only one."
"Maybe on the weekends, but she's gone out during the week with a half a dozen different guys. Last night when Mark and I were at the arcade she was there with Phil Ackers."
"I didn't know. I guess I'm just dumb."
"No Rob; just blind. There are other girls you can date. You don't have to stick with her."
I thought about it and I realized that Rich was right. The next day at school I asked Carol Wright if she would like to go skating with me on Friday night and she said yes. We had a good time and I asked her if she would go to the movies with me on Saturday and she said yes.
We were standing in line for popcorn when Mickey came in with Norm Snyder. She saw me standing there with Carol and I saw a strange look come over her face. I ignored her and when we had our popcorn and sodas Carol and I went in and sat down in the middle of the theatre. I got up to use the bathroom about halfway through the second feature and I saw that Mickey was sitting two rows directly behind us and I saw her eyes follow me as I walked up the aisle. "Weird" I thought. Why would she watch me?
I walked Carol home and she told me that she'd had a good time and when I asked her if she would like to go to the arcade with me after school on Tuesday she said that she would love to.
Monday at school third period was gym and the way it worked was that boys and girls alternated weeks. One week the boys had the gym and the girls had the swimming pool and then the next week it reversed. Monday it was the boy's week for the gym, but when we got there the girls were there too. Mr. Hoffman, our gym teacher, announced that the school was sponsoring a dance in two weeks and the boys and girls were going to spend the week together learning to dance. He told us to choose a partner for the week and I looked for Carol and when I saw her I started heading her way, but before I got there Mickey stepped in front of me and took my arm.
"This is just going to be so much fun Rob. I just know that we will be good together."
It caught me by surprise and I stopped and was just about to tell her that I wanted Carol to be my partner and when I looked toward Carol she gave me a nasty look and turned away and I saw Jerry Dobbs walk up and take her arm. Mickey said:
"What's the matter Rob? You don't seem pleased."
I wasn't all that experienced with girls, but even I knew that the look I'd gotten from Carol probably meant that we were toast and since I had always been hung up on Mickey I said:
"Of course I'm pleased. I'm just a bit surprised is all."
"Why would you be surprised?"
"The last two times I asked you out you weren't interested so I thought..."
"Just you hush Rob Dalton; it doesn't matter what you thought. Come on now, let's get in line."
She was right and we were good together and I think that is the first gym class that I ever enjoyed even though I did get several not so nice looks from Carol.
I caught up with Carol at the end of sixth period so I could confirm our date the next night and she said:
"Just go away and leave me alone."
"Why? What did I do?"
"You know what you did."
"No I don't."
"You chose that bitch Michelle to be your dance partner instead of me. How could you do something like that if you wanted to go out with me?"
I usually thought of myself as a straight up kind of guy, truthful and like that, but even I knew that there were times you had to fudge a little so I said:
"I was on my way to ask you to be my partner when Mickey stepped in front of me and asked me to be her partner. I started to tell her no when I saw you go off with Jerry. I suppose I could have come after you and told Jerry to get lost, but it probably would have created a scene and then you would have been pissed at me."
.... There is more of this story ...