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Joined at the hip

Andy and I stopped at the grade school and sat down on the steps. The conversation remained on the topic of girls, but this time, not the generic variety. I was only interested in talking about one girl; Julie. We talked well into the night, and then he headed to his house, and I headed to mine. During the walk home, I couldn’t get her out of my mind. This was the summer prior to my senior year in high school, and the two of us would become an item throughout the year. There were some bumps along the road, however, and our first “date” almost became our last.

Once school started, Julie would often slip me notes between classes, and I always looked forward to reading them. In one of our limited conversations, the topic of the coming weekend came up, and I asked her if she wanted to go out. She said yes, and we agreed to meet at Mr. Quick’s Hamburgers. I was on cloud nine and couldn’t wait for Saturday night.

Before leaving home, I spent quite a bit of time preparing: comb hair one thousand times, check; brush teeth repeatedly, check; clean jeans and shirt, check; Sure underarm deodorant and Brut cologne, check. With a stick of Big Red cinnamon gum in my pocket, I was all set. I had washed and vacuumed my car that morning, and everything was perfect. After filling up the car at Quik Trip, I made my way to Mr. Quick’s at the appointed time; actually, I was a little early. As I stood next to my car in the parking lot, I thought about what the night might bring. The appointed time came and went and no Julie. I was feeling a little depressed when I saw Jimmy’s brown Maverick pull into the lot. Inside were four people; it was a double date.

As the car drove past me, I looked inside—and there was Julie, sitting almost on Jimmy’s lap. My heart and hopes sank, and my demeanor went from disappointment to anger. I was hurt and hurt bad. It is often a short trip from euphoria to melancholy, and that night was a case in point. I was in a foul mood when one of my friends came by and offered to take me riding around. Quite the letdown from my original plans, but better than going home with my tail tucked between my legs. I’m sure I wasn’t much for conversation that night, and we made a short night of it.

As I entered the house, Dad said, “You’re home early. How was your date?” Not wanting to show emotion, I muttered, “She didn’t show up” and went to my room and shut the door. Dad came into my room and tried to console me, “There are plenty of fish in the sea,” but I was having nothing of the kind. As I lie there in bed, I thought of Julie the entire time, and found it very difficult to fall asleep, tossing and turning until I wore myself out and finally drifted off.

On Monday, I confronted her, but not too sharply, since I still had strong feelings for her and didn’t want to make things worse than they already were. She informed me that for one thing, she never agreed to go on a date with me (did I just imagine the conversation at school the previous week?) and that even if she did agree, in order for her parents to allow her to go on a date, the boy had to come to the house and meet her parents. No honking from the street allowed. I understood her point, but asked her why she didn’t say that up front. She continued to obfuscate and deny that we even had a date. I was insistent and stubborn, and so was she. Our first argument, and we hadn’t even gone out yet. This didn’t bode well for the future.

This story is an excerpt from the book Always a Little Heathen, which will be released on October 14, 2014.