The Courtship of Debbie
It was a very long two weeks since I couldn’t go to her house or call her at home so meeting in the hallways at school would have to do. Time in high school could drag on for days when you really wanted to do something. When it dawned on me that two weeks actually meant twenty days, not fourteen, I was devastated. I found a girl who, according to popular belief, “really liked me,” yet due to our first date faux pas, we would have to wait three weeks before we went out on a date again. Maddening, absolutely maddening!
Monday at school, after our first date and the meeting with the parents, Debbie was, to say, a little shy and awkward. She'd gotten me busted with her parents and for a change, through no fault of my own. I believe it was at the band room before school started we ran into each other. I was in the jazz band and every morning before school, the band would get together and practice our music. Those were good times and while we were rehearsing, guess who I saw standing by the door with that beautiful smile trying to be inconspicuous while still getting my attention: Debbie. Thoughts of the weekend started spinning around in my head: playing pool, talking, remembering her smile, being chastised by her parents, but more important—kissing.
A sharp elbow in my right side from my partner Mike brought me back to reality. While staring at her and reminiscing about the weekend, I got lost in the music and forgot to turn the page. Damn it.
How could I stay mad at her? She could make any bad situation better with her smile. There were times I would really like to say, “Stop smiling!” Never worked. She would just smile and giggle. Damn it!
Date #2 went much smoother. Her parents met me with the same searching, skeptical eyes from our last encounter, reinforcing her curfew time.
“Understood! She will be home by 11:50pm. No questions. I will not fail.” She stood there smiling. Damn it! Stop it. Yeah, like that worked. It was kind of a special date. She’d just turned sixteen, and for some reason I wanted to get her a nice stuffed animal. So I went to the only store in town that carried quality stuffed bears from Germany, dropping $40.00 without hesitation. We got into my dad's car, and I told her we had a stowaway passenger. She turned around and looked in the back seat. The smile on her face went from ear to ear. She leaned back, unfastened the seat belt on her present and gave it a big hug. Feeling a little neglected I asked, “Do I get one?”
She smiled and said, “No . . .you get a kiss.” After we kissed, her face became all serious as her eyes moved to her left wrist. Her parents on the other hand bought her the present of a lifetime. A watch! Needless to say, she was not a happy camper. She wore it on her wrist like it was a ball and chain.
She was furious. “A watch! My parents got me a watch for my sixteenth birthday. This is such crap.” She took it off and put it in the glove compartment, reminding me not to let her forget, it.
All I could say was, “Well, I guess between your watch and mine, no chance of you being late.” Whoops. Not the thing to say at the time. I got a look that shut me up in a heartbeat.
“It isn't funny, and you better not start laughing. A watch for my birthday; what a bunch of crap!”
Okay, start the car, turn on the radio, roll down the window and stay quiet. Seems like the best course of action for the moment.
It was a simple date. Get something to eat, go watch TV at my folks and then get her home on time. Well, pretty much the general idea. Of course there would be some necking thrown into the mix. It’d been three weeks since I’d been able to kiss her. That was the real crime.
And that is pretty much how the date went. Simple and quick. Wasn't repeating the original mistake. Had her home by 11:30pm. I needed to regain the confidence of her parents. A small price to pay in order to keep seeing her. She wasn't quite as obliging, but that was okay. If this is going to work, I have to get her parents on our side.
We’d been dating for about a month and were having a great time. I loved being around her and having fun, but for some reason I couldn't get someone else out of my mind—Betsy. I needed to try one more time with her. I pondered the thought and decided I needed to let Debbie know.
We weren't really on a date that night, more of a “I need to talk” meeting. I explained to her that the only way we could have a shot at a really good relationship was for me to make absolutely sure there was nothing left between Betsy and me. I’d be taking Betsy out on a date next weekend. This was not a particularly popular thought with her or our friends, but it had to be done. I can't date two girls at the same time and do either one of them justice. So Betsy and I were going out at least one more time.
The following week at school was a bit stressed to say the least. Debbie was trying to be nice and pleasant towards me. She didn’t want me going out with Betsy, but I’d already made the decision, and the plan was in place. Betsy seemed kind of excited about the date. This was just adding fuel to the fire. Did I mention both of them were in the band? I did my best to stay calm, cool, and collected. Looking back I’m sure I failed quite miserably but ya know, it was high school and seventeen-year-old boys aren’t the greatest intellectual giants - not just yet.
I was so glad Friday finally arrived. It was time. A decision would be made this weekend one way or the other - Betsy or Debbie. I set the date up for Friday so in case it didn't go well, Saturday was open for a date with Debbie or whatever else I chose to do. Not bad planning for a change.
Picked Betsy up around 8:00pm. It had to have been one of the shortest dates I have ever been on. Betsy was cute and very smart, but no matter how hard we tried to relax and have a good time, it just wasn't working. Everything we tried was too forced. Nothing was smooth or spontaneous. I was a little disappointed but relieved at the same time. No more days or nights thinking there was something still there. Betsy and I were done, and now I could devote all my energy towards Debbie.
I called her up when I returned home from the date and asked her if she’d like to go out tomorrow night. She agreed but with a few conditions. I would never put her through that again or mention Betsy's name. I wholeheartedly agreed.
And so it began. I would give Debbie all my affection, attention, and love. I would not be lured by another female as long as we were dating. This did seem like a monumental undertaking because I rarely dated anyone for more than a couple of months, but for some reason this felt right. With the decision made, our journey started.
As our relationship grew, and our affections for each became more intense, we did everything together. We became inseparable. Well, there was a day she thought we might be involuntarily separated.
See, during the first six months of dating I had to use my dad or mom's car. Dad agreed I’d be able to get my own wheels this coming summer. That would be so cool. No more asking the parents if I could borrow their vehicles. I would have my own and be able to jump in and go whenever I pleased.
My first truck! I wanted a red Ford F-100 heavy half-ton pickup. Dad and I spent weeks poring over the paper until we found one that didn't need a lot of work. She wasn't the prettiest truck, but she was going to be mine for $900.00.
Yes! The day arrived, and I invited Debbie to go with us. She was also excited; Jeff is going to have his own wheels and no more car sharing. Did I mention that this model was three-on-the tree? Standard transmission. No problem. Learned how to do it in Driver's Ed., or so I thought. No practice runs, no real instructions. Dad paid the guy, said good luck, and left. She and I hopped in and off we went . . . about ten feet before it died. That went well. I looked at her, and she had this look of caution and asked if I knew what I was doing.
“Hell yes I do. Just need to get used to the clutch . . . along with applying the right amount of gas at the right time.” We drove around the neighborhood a few times, and I was ready for the main lanes. It went really well until I killed the truck in an intersection with a small hill. This is not good! I could be exaggerating, but it seemed like it took over ten minutes to get the truck moving again, and traffic was really getting snarled-up. The other drivers weren't upset that I’d blocked the entire intersection. They appeared to be enjoying the mayhem this teenager was causing in front of his girlfriend. And somewhere during the debacle I know she said, “Jeff, are you sure you can drive the truck?”
Finally got it started and moving in the right direction. Needless to say she wasn't sitting next to me but rather buckled in and holding onto the armrest of the door handle. Think she might have been just a light shade of white. I suggested we go and see some of our friends. Mysteriously, she had some chores that needed to be done that afternoon so I took her home. It was a real quick goodbye kiss as she bolted out of the truck and made for the front door. Guess now, I couldn't blame her. Seeing your life flash before your eyes at sixteen in the middle of the day can’t be a good thing.
Well, I did learn how to drive the truck to the point she felt comfortable enough to bypass the passenger seatbelt and sit by my side. Probably took about a month or so to really master the clutch and gas. And for at least a month, she would ask me before each date, “Sure you can drive your own truck?” She would smile and giggle as the words came out of her mouth. Guess I could have asked her if she would rather walk but I couldn't get mad at her when she smiled. I loved her. With the clutch mastered and the thought of her life ending at an early age gone, she agreed I could pick her up in the mornings for marching band practice.
As mentioned earlier, the first time I noticed her was at band practice. We practiced in the afternoon after school, yet for some reason the band director changed his mind for the 1978 season. Practice would be changed to the mornings. That meant being at school at 6:30am. “You have got to be kidding me, 6:30am? Argghhhh!”
Oh well, the band director's will shall be done. After thinking about this time change, it dawned on me that I would be starting my mornings on the right foot. The first person I would see in the morning would be Debbie. Why? Because I was her ride to school. Hey, this isn't such a bad idea after all. Picking her up in the morning and listening to her complain about having to eat something her mother was forcing down her was great. My parents were the opposite when it came to my diet, “My God, Jeffery, is there no filling you up?” Not at that age. I could never eat enough. The best, and I mean the best part of picking her up that early, was the morning kiss. What a great way to start the day!
Actually it did get a little better. Being in the marching band meant we would be allowed to spend a lot of quality time together: morning practices, special rehearsals, football games, sitting with each other at the games, and the bus trips.
During school hours it’s difficult to perform any serious kissing as the teachers were always looking for too much PDA (public displays of affection) between students, but the band director only cared that we were all accounted for and knew our parts for the show. He didn't waste his time patrolling the aisles of the bus telling us to keep our hands to ourselves; he cared more about how we performed. This was the perfect opportunity to get some serious kissing time in. I always looked forward to the long bus rides. I could never get enough of her being by my side. Going to the games, preparing for the show and cutting up with friends was great, but the bus ride back to the school after the performances was heaven.
She always sat by the window. Why, I don't know. Maybe she thought she might fall out of the seat and wind up in the middle of the aisle. That might be a bit embarrassing for her, so I gladly took the aisle seat. We would spend the ride back to the school wrapped up in each other’s arms, kissing long and passionately. When we’d had enough, she would lay her head against my shoulder and fall asleep. God, I loved that. She would sleep, and I would lovingly stroke her soft brown hair, kiss the top of her head, and whisper in her ear how much I loved her.
I hated it when the bus pulled into the school parking lot. That meant our time together would be coming to an end, but only for a moment - I was still her ride home. I would drive her home, walk her to the front porch, and kiss for another ten minutes or so until the front porch light turned on. Time to go. I would kiss her one more once and look forward to the next time I would be picking her up for our newest adventure. There was one morning that didn't turn out exactly as I planned.
Gas back in the day was around $.80/gallon. Yes, eighty cents. Wendy's paid $2.15/hour and my truck's gas mileage was eight mile per gallon. So I planned out every excursion and trip I made. I had X amount of dollars per week to spend on gas, and the budget didn't allow for any unnecessary trips.
It was a cold, dark morning as I pulled into her driveway. Hmm, no Debbie. Walked up to the front door and knocked. Her mom opened the door and said, “Debbie is sick and is not going to school today.” What, I drove all this way for nothing? Yeah, those were the thoughts permeating in my small brain. Her mother let me come into the foyer and at the top of the steps was Debbie sitting down and looking pitiful. She had a really sad look on her face, and all I could say was, “Why didn't you call me?” No sympathy, no “How are feeling?”, just, “Why didn't you call?” She should have shot me right there on the spot. I deserved it. She told me she was really sorry and didn't call because she didn't want to wake my folks up. Let me see, Dad gets up around 5:00am if he is home, and Mom usually starts moving around 6:00. Needless to say I left her house in a huff. I was more worried about the gas I’d used instead of being concerned with her well-being. Idiot!
I had the whole day to think about what an ass I’d been towards her. I felt like such a heel. Even my best friend Mike agreed. “Dawson, you’re such an ass some days.” I rectified the problem after school. Instead of hanging with friends or going straight home, I turned the truck south and went to see my sick girl.
Her mom answered the door saying, “Hello, Jeff, is there something you want?” I felt about two feet tall with her words. You could hear it in her voice. Stupid boy!
“May I see Debbie for a few minutes?”
“Jeff, let me see if she feels like getting out of bed.” Her mom went upstairs and disappeared for five minutes. It doesn't take five minutes to see if someone is going to get out of bed. . . or does it? It does when the person who made an ass of himself is coming back to apologize. Any other girl I’d dated would not have received this type of patience. Debbie slowly emerged from her room, sat down at the top of the stairs with her mother smiling behind her. I felt like I was being interrogated from up on high. I told her how sorry I was for not caring more and it would never happen again. I understood her not wanting to phone early in the morning for fear of bothering my parents, and sick or not, it dawned on me that she just wanted to see me each and every morning. God, I can be slow some days. Oh yes, phone calls. Back before cell phones, computers, or instant messaging, we used a device known as the telephone, or to the younger crowd, a land line.
On some weekends, for whatever reasons we couldn't go out, we would spend the evening talking to each other for hours. How many remember this simple pleasure? Being apart for any amount of time was insufferable. I wanted to be around her constantly and if the phone was the only way to fill the gap then we filled it to the max.
I remember my parents coming home from a night out on the town, and Dad asking me who was on the phone all night? Let's see, I'm the only one here so it must have been “I”.
“And who were you talking to for over three hours Jeffery?”
“Jeffery, what if there’d been an emergency and we needed to talk to you? What would you have done?”
“That's just ridiculous, Jeffery. Don't do it again.”
“Okay.” Yeah like that message sunk in - no. If I couldn't be with her then I was going to call her and spend as many hours listening to her wonderful voice until we were together again.
We were always together at school. I picked her up in the morning, met her between classes, or caught up with her by my locker stealing kisses at every opportunity, and ended the day by taking her home. School was really in the way of us being able to spend all of our time with each other. Holding her, kissing her, making her laugh, or walking down the halls either holding hands or with an arm around her waist holding her close. Life is outstanding with her in it. And it was only going to get better.
Fall, 1978; class rings came in. When I placed the order, it was more because everyone else was getting one. What was I going to do with a ring? Guess I'll put it in a box because I sure wasn't going to wear it anytime soon. All the activities and safety reports I received from my father carried the same outcome: broken fingers, busted hand, or an amputated digit. At my age, I wanted to keep all of my digits, so the ring would be placed in a safe dark space where it could do no damage. Debbie asked me if I’d ordered a ring. “Well yeah, why?”
“No reason. Just curious.” If she’s curious there’s a reason. She never asked a question for the hell of it.
The day arrived; we could pick up our rings in the cafeteria between classes. Oh, yeah. I went to pick up the ring even though I wouldn't be wearing it. Hey, looks pretty cool even though I knew its fate – in a box where it and I will be safe. . . and then I had a thought. Wouldn't it look great on her finger? Imagining her wearing my ring filled me with a strange, wonderful feeling of euphoria I’d never experienced. I couldn't wait to find her and ask her if she wanted my ring.
The last bell rung, and I knew she would be waiting by our locker to sneak a quick kiss and ask her how her day went. I came down the hall and there she was, wearing my jean jacket with that wonderful smile. I walked up, gave her a quick kiss and hug. “How was your day, babe?” She would roll her eyes and start talking about something a teacher or student said that really irritated her. Like me, she couldn't stand stupid comments or remarks (Okay, and she is dating me why?).
I placed an arm around her and we headed towards the band room so I could get my trombone. We didn't talk about much. I'm too busy trying to figure out how to give her the ring without botching it up and making a mess of the situation. Would she want it? Would she be happy? Would she wear it or would I put it in a box for future use; I just didn't know, so I kept quiet and enjoyed holding her close as we walked down the halls.
Picked up my horn and off to the truck we went. She always knew when I was having a major thought. She never questioned me. She would smile with those big, beautiful brown eyes. God, I loved her so much.
We got in the truck and before I could flip the engine on, she turned and said, “Jeff, is there something on your mind you need to ask me?” How did she know? I hesitantly put my hand in my pocket, looked at her, and responded, “Debbie, I picked up my class ring today and was thinking about, uh . . . maybe letting . . . (her eyes were filled with happiness and glee, she already knew what I was going to ask her) uh . . . Debbie, would you like to wear my ring?” I pulled it out of my pocket and stared at it like it was a dead weight. I didn't want to look at her if she said no. Why was I feeling so nervous? It's only a class ring, not like it's a wedding band or anything, just a class ring, but it is a ring.
She paused for a moment, placed her left hand in my right hand that was holding the ring. She placed her right hand on my face, turned my head towards her, leaned forward and said, “I would love to wear your ring,” and then kissed me. A feeling of elation poured through my body. She wants to wear it. She really wants to wear my ring! I was so relieved. If she would have said no, maybe I might have thought it was some type of rejection, but she said yes and wore it every day of the week and loved showing it off.
She wore it everywhere we went, whether it was school, getting together with friends, having fun, or going to the movies; it couldn't be missed. The silver band, the blue stone on her dark tanned skin, they were a perfect match.
* * *
Yes, we loved going to the shows. The three that jump out and require a little explanation: The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Shining, and A Bridge Too Far.
It was imperative, as mentioned earlier to get her parents back on our side. This took a lot of time and patience. Dads, you know what’s on every seventeen-through-eighteen-year-old’s mind when it comes to your daughters. We might be old, but if we’ve forgotten the mindset of those carefree days, then shame on us.
Rocky Horror was sweeping the country, and I loved going to the midnight films, but her curfew was throwing a major curve ball in the mix. She had to be home when the movie would start. So an elaborate plan was hatched. Make damn sure that she was always home at least ten minutes before her appointed curfew time or even better, just plan a date that keeps us at her house with no chance of being late. I asked Debbie if she wanted to go catch this film. Well duh, of course she did; now to convince her parents to let their only daughter go to a midnight movie. I mentioned to them one day that I’d like to take Debbie to a midnight movie. They assured me they would think about it. No rush. Not like the film was going to stop playing anytime soon.
Went over to her house Friday night for our weekly date. Her parents were waiting in the family room. Never a good sign.
Once again, she and her mom are sitting on the couch, her father was standing to my right, and I believe they had a lamp shining on me. “Jeff, we’ve thought about this midnight movie idea and have a few reservations.” Of course they would. “We have agreed to let her go. Now, how do you envision this date?”
Uh-oh, I have to lay out a map for them. “Well, I would pick her up say, 9:00 o’clock so we could get something to eat (and go parking for a little bit), take her to the movie and have her home twenty minutes after the film ends.”
“How long is the film?” asked her father.
“One hour and thirty minutes. She would be home no later than 2:00am.”
Both of them were quiet for a moment. No movements, no sighs—silence. Her dad slowly started speaking, “Uh, huh. Well, here’s how we see it. You pick her up at 10:00pm. That will give you plenty of time to get something to eat, go to the movie and have her home by 1:45am and not a minute later.” Well, this sounds okay, just won't have time to get something to eat. Agreed.
I was at her house at exactly 10:00pm and sped off to one of our favorite spots. This had to be the quickest parking excursion we ever embarked on (Yeah, I ate before I picked her up). That was actually good planning on my part for a change. The movie? She’d never seen anything like it. We had a great time and yes, she was home at 1:44am. No telling how long she would have been grounded if she’d been one minute late. It was not worth tempting fate.
The Shining? All I can say is she really liked it, and to this day I do not understand why “all work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy.” When the film was over, we ran into an acquaintance of mine, Brett. He and his girlfriend saw the movie also. I looked at Brett and asked him what he thought the movie was about. He knew about as much as I did. Jack Nicholson is crazy. Well, Debbie liked it, and that’s all that mattered.
The next movie and last war movie she saw with me was an epic I just couldn't wait to see. I was literally foaming at the mouth - A Bridge Too Far. Great cast, great story and of course a soon to be World War II classic.
We arrived a little later than I wanted, but that was okay. It was close to a sellout, but we were able to get the last tickets. She was a bit apprehensive about the movie. She’d never seen me so excited about any film, and believe me, I was very excited!
Okay, got the tickets, bought some popcorn and drinks and ventured in. It was a full house, and I mean full. I hated how they started these mini multiplexes. Apparently the theaters felt they could make a lot more money by reducing the seating capacity by say, sixty percent. I hate small theaters, but that’s another story. Okay, we get in the theater, and the only seats available were in the front row. This would prove to be a minor faux pas.
The film was everything one could ask for: great acting, superb directing, authentic action scenes, and excellent special effects. The defining moment in the movie is when elements of the 15th SS panzer army are coming to retake Arnhem from the British. The cameras were placed in just the right place so when (remember the real bridge was about 1 mile long with a large arch in it), the German armored reconnaissance force is cresting over the bridge and all you can see are these black silhouettes. I jump up out of the seat and yelled, “Now you’re going to see some action!” or something to that effect.
Debbie was in shock at what I was doing and quickly grabbed my arm, pulling me back into the chair, “Jeff, they’re going to throw us out if you don't settle down.” I got too excited and believe me, she kept a tight hold on my arm until the film was over. She never went to another war movie with me again. Gee, I wonder why?
Going to the movies, getting something to eat was always fun, but there was one activity she could never get enough of, pinball.
When I turned eighteen, Dad asked me what I wanted. Didn't have to think about it very long. A pinball machine, Dad. He looked at me like I’d lost my mind. He probably wasn’t too far off. “Jeffery, do you have any idea how much that will cost?”
“No, Dad, but if I can find one that is affordable it’d be a great addition to the game room, wouldn't it?” He begrudgingly said okay. But instead of just me going to check out the selection, he suggested we go together and see what R&M music store had in stock. So in the truck we both climbed and headed off to R&M.
They had a great selection, but $750 to $1,000 was way out of line. I almost gave up until I came across a game with the name “Superstar.” I’d never seen or played this one before. The salesman turned it on so we could check out the action and how the scoring was calculated. After about fifteen minutes, Dad agreed it was a pretty good machine. And the price? $300.00. Sold! What a great birthday present. Dad paid for it and told the salesman we would be back later today to pick it up.
I dropped Dad off at the house and made a beeline to my best friend Mike's, rustled him out of the house, and headed to pick up the machine. He couldn't believe what Dad had bought, but like myself, he loved playing pinball and couldn't wait to try his luck.
That machine became the focal point of the game room. Between my friends, family, and Mom and Dad's bridge parties, it was a hit. There were times Dad and his friends told us we would have to wait our turn.
When Debbie heard about the gift, she couldn't wait to come over. Now we’d been to the local amusement park, Bell's, but she never showed a great deal of interest in pinball. Skeet ball was her game, and she soundly beat me every time. That was wrong until she explained that when she lived in New York, she and her brother would go to the local arcade. He would give her a handful of quarters, and she would spend all day playing skeet ball. Believe me, she was very, very good. I never ever came close to beating her.
She asked how soon I could come over and pick her up. She really wanted to see the new toy and give it a whirl. And whirl she gave it. There were nights that all we did was play pinball. You want to talk about intense? Some days it was just plain scary watching her play. You would have thought she was taking a math final or working on a major English paper. Should have put up a sign, “Warning, Debbie at Play, Do Not Disturb.” I had the high score of 315,000, and she was bound and determined to top it. I learned the hard way not to get in her space when she played unless I’d been invited to join her.
She was having a fantastic game, and this would be the day she beat my high score. I accidentally bumped the machine as I put my arms around her and the machine “tilted.” For those who don't know, when a pinball machine goes “tilt”, it shuts down and the game is over. What a mistake. Unhappy doesn't even come close to describing the look she flashed at me. It was more along the lines of, “You are going to die.” All night long that is all she talked about – how I deliberately interrupted her game so she wouldn't beat my score. I never, repeat, never bothered her again when she played. Nope, she never did top my high score.
Dad had a pretty cool stereo in the game room, so if we were playing pool or pinball, we could listen to our favorite songs and if we were in the mood, we would take in a dance or two. Dancing with her was like twirling the wind. She was so graceful and smooth with her movements. She is the first girl I danced with who could follow and lead at the same time. We loved dancing with each other so much, we never missed a school dance no matter what the theme was.
You name it, and we went to them: Homecoming, Christmas, Valentine's Day, and Sadie Hawkins. She really did know how to follow with style and grace and, of course, holding her close, smelling her perfume, and stroking that beautiful brown hair lightly (without messing it up) while slow dancing and kissing her was heaven. She was so beautiful. Looking into her brown eyes when she smiled, I could see how much she was in love with me, just the way I was in love with her. Life couldn't get any better. Seventeen and in love with the most beautiful girl in school. No one could ever convince me otherwise that this was only puppy love or a high school fling. I loved her with all of my heart and soul.
Christmas Dance 1978
During the summer of 1977, I was working at the local golf course - LaFortune. It was my duty to take care of the golf carts. Changing batteries, charging them, pulling or fishing them out from sand traps and creeks, usually caused by one or two, too many cold beers from the fine golfers who played the course. Too bad I didn't collect cans back then. Oh, well. The garage I worked in did not have a refrigerator much less air-conditioning, and I was one of those guys who usually took their lunch every day.
I was sitting around in the living room with Debbie and her mom talking about the oppressive summer heat. Her mom asked me what I usually ate at work. Kind of a strange question, but what the heck. “Well, I usually take a bologna sandwich and some chips.”
“Jeff, do you put mayonnaise on the sandwich?”
An odd question; I mean bologna, without mayonnaise? “Well, yes.”
She and Debbie looked at each other and in unison said, “You better find a cool place for your lunch or at least drop the mayonnaise.” I convinced them it would be fine. Now you know the look women have when they know they’re right, and the male they are questioning is still trying to figure why two and two equals four. Hey, I knew what was best and would carry on.
I carried on all right. It was a particularly hot day in the shop, the outside temperature was hovering around ninety-eight and the shop temperature had to have been around 105+. Time for lunch. Couldn't wait to eat that bologna sandwich with all that sweet mayonnaise. It was sure good for about three hours, and then it wasn't so good. Came down with a real good dose of self-inflicted food poisoning. Threw up for probably six hours once I got home from work. Oh, it was just terrible. I do mean terrible. Somewhere between runs to the bathroom and retching out my guts I called her and said I wouldn't be coming over. I believe to this day I heard very faint laughter on the other end of the phone receiver.
After I recovered from the episode, I went over to see her. Well instead of just going in and saying hi, her mom wanted to be a little chatty. And guess what the topic was? “Jeff, plan on taking anymore mayonnaise sandwiches to work this week?” I thought I was going to start puking again. You know, they did feel just a little sorry for what happened, but it was difficult to feel the love while they were both laughing about it. That was wrong, but I loved her and could never be mad at her. Now even though I never really got mad at her, I gave her plenty of opportunities to remind me of how underdeveloped my brain was at eighteen.
There was a night she wasn't smiling at all, worse than when I went out with Betsy. We were driving around town just because. No real destination, just cruising Sheridan road going south. As we crested the top of Shadow Mountain Hill, I noticed a truck on the right side of the road was stuck. Well, maybe the guy needs some help. I pulled the truck up, turned on the flashers, and went to see if I could provide any assistance.
The kid driving the truck was my age, and he was trying to take his girlfriend down the dirt road to the pond for a little snipe hunting. Ah, yes, snipe hunting. Since I’d been to this secluded area I understood his dilemma. He’d high centered his truck trying to get on the dirt road which wasn't hard to do. The borrow ditch was eight feet wide with a four foot drop. We talked about the best way to get him unstuck and came up with a plan. I would turn my truck around, place a chain on the frame and yank him free. One problem. Sheridan is a pretty busy two lane asphalt road and in order for this operation to succeed, traffic would have to be stopped. How to do this? I know. We’ll get our girls to stop the traffic. When we explained to them what we were going to do, they had a look of utter fear in their eyes. “It's 9:00pm, pitch black, and you guys want us to do what?”
“Stop the traffic. It'll be okay.” God, boys of eighteen can really be dumb, but there was no other option. So the girls reluctantly took their posts. Debbie got the worst one. She would stop the traffic coming over the hill. I would hear about this faux pas a little later.
The chain was in place, and the pulling began. I inched my truck forward until I felt it tighten up and then romped on the gas. He did the same. My truck was pulling as hard as it could, but instead of going forward, the truck was only sliding side to side like a pendulum. What a show! Our tires were pouring out smoke, but his truck wouldn't move. I backed up, got out, and we put another plan together. I would have to literally jerk his truck out of the ditch and hopefully the chain wouldn't break or even worse - tear off a bumper or damage the frames. The plan is set, and we are bound and determined to get him back on the road.
The chain went tight, the engines were revved, the girls had the traffic stopped, and bang! I popped the clutch. The back of the truck jumped off the pavement, the tires were squealing and like a cork coming out of a champagne bottle, his truck bounced out of the ditch and onto the north bound lane. I was so pumped with adrenaline I didn’t noticed he was free. I was still squealing the tires and racing the engine until I realized the truck wasn't moving. WTF? I looked in the window mirror and saw he was free and clear, trying to get me to stop. I let off the accelerator, backed up to recover the chain, and check for damage. Both of our trucks survived the night of potential demolition derby. He was very thankful we stopped to help him and offered me twenty bucks for the trouble. Told him to keep it. Not a problem. I might need him to return the favor someday.
Okay, that went well. We signaled the girls to let the cars go. Debbie got back in the truck, not saying a word. Man, I am feeling so good! Helped a fellow teenager in distress and saved him some cash. I'm feeling on top of the world.
Drove about a mile, came to a red light, and stopped. She turned, looked at me, and said, “Jeff, if you ever do that to me again, I will never go out with you. Do you have any idea how scared I was standing on that hill trying to stop traffic? Don't you ever do that to me again. Do you understand? Never again.” It was the way she conveyed the message that made it sink in all the way - calmly and quietly.
Her delivery crushed me. Oh man, I screwed up again. What could I say? “Debbie, I am so sorry. I wasn't thinking.”
“You got that right. Never again. Understood?”
“Yes, loud and clear.” God, what an idiot I am.
Yes, her message was received loud and clear and because I was learning to digest some simple words and thoughts with her help, we continued to have more fun than the law allowed, which definitely included parking.
Parking and necking. I really had to think about how much detail needed to be put in and after much deliberation came to the conclusion, just the basics. We are in high school. We are young and most definitely in love, so if a date is schedule for say five hours, at least two to three hours were set aside for serious kissing and petting. She had the softest skin and moist lips. Kissing her was indescribable. She could melt the ice off the truck in the winter when we kissed. We had our share of run-ins with friends, parents, and local law enforcement.