It never failed that my best friend Mike, always asked me where we went and if it was quiet and secluded. “Yes, Mike. All of the places I’ve found are just like that and no, I’m not telling you where we go.” He thought that was just wrong and on occasion, without me noticing, would follow us and just as we were getting comfortable he would turn on his brights and start honking his horn. “I'm going to kill him.” Debbie would just laugh and have them join us. Damn it. Not what I had in mind, but okay.
There were plenty of times when we were by ourselves with no interruptions, and I am here to say it was pure heaven. She had the most perfect complexion and skin. Her skin was a very deep brown from her constant sun tanning. Even in the winter it retained its dark brown color. It complimented her beautiful brown eyes. I learned to appreciate one of the simplest pleasures in life - moonlight reflecting off her sweat covered body. God, she was beautiful!
Making love to her, not just having sex, was an intoxicating drug. I could never get enough of her. We could never kiss deep enough or hold each other close enough, and it didn't matter if it was in the dead of winter or the heat of summer. The only temperature that mattered was the heat we were producing.
There were a few encounters that didn't turn out exactly as planned. Mom and Dad went out for the evening. The house would be empty, and I just couldn't pass up the opportunity. We went back to my parents’ house and did what teenagers in love do. Stripped down and hopped in bed. She felt so good. We were passionately kissing each other, and then I heard a terrifying sound. The bells on the back door started ringing. They only rang when someone was coming into the house. Oh, shit! Mom and Dad came home early. What to do, what to do? I told Debbie to get dressed and hide in the closet. I would go in the bathroom and hopefully diffuse a dicey situation. Okay, we have a plan.
I went in the bathroom, got dressed, ran the water for sound effects, and flushed the toilet. I thought I was clever. I opened the bathroom door and was greeted by my father. He had a very stern look on his face and said, “Son, don't let it happen again.” That was it. He turned and retreated into his bedroom, closing the door.
I made a bee-line to my room, opened the closet door, took Debbie by the hand, and ran as quietly as possible out of the house. We went out the sliding glass door that connected the main house to the game room so those damn bells on the backdoor wouldn't ring. Dad and I never spoke of this again.
There was one adventure Dad and I would discuss thirty years after the incident. Debbie and I went to Wendy's for a bite to eat. We couldn't keep our hands off each other while we ate. We had to get out of there and find a good parking spot. We finished eating, got in the truck, and immediately started kissing each other. She tasted so good. Well, we just got too damn hot and bothered, and she started our parking activities a little earlier than planned. Okay, I need to get us out of here. I looked both ways; the parking lot was clear. I started backing the truck up and bang! I backed right into a car that mysteriously appeared out of nowhere. The driver got out wanting to exchange insurance, names, and numbers. He knew exactly what and why the accident happened. I was in no condition to step out the truck and have a visit. He got the information he needed and drove off. I know he was laughing. The worst however, was yet to come.
A week later, I went over to see Mike. His dad was always sitting in his recliner working on a new fishing rod. Mr. Poehling looked up, “Hi Jeff. What are you boys planning on doing tonight?”
“Not much Mr. Poehling, probably drive around town and get something to eat.”
“Jeff, I have a question. Did you have an accident last weekend?”
“Excuse me, sir?”
“Did you have an accident last weekend? The reason I ask is one of my co-workers came in Monday and told me all about this high school boy, in a red F-100 pickup that backed into him, and for some reason the teenage boy didn't want to get out of his truck. Would that have been you, Jeff?” Oh, shit. He knows. This is not good.
“Oh no Mr. Poehling, that wasn't me.”
“Okay Jeff, just checking.” After satisfactorily answering his question, Mike asked me what happened. I told him it was none of his business. I never did tell Mike why his father came up with that line of questioning.
Now, my parents and Mike’s were good friends. They would occasionally get together for bridge, sporting events, or an OSU basketball game.
When I was back in Tulsa (2004) taking care of my dad, we were sitting on the back porch and I asked him out of all the girls I dated, who was his favorite. Without a flinch he said, “Debbie (he paused for a few moments before continuing), and son (another long pause) -” A small smile curled his face with the next words “I know all about you backing into that guy at Wendy's. Bill called and told me about it.” Oh hell! Dad knew about this minor incident all of these years, and never said a word about it till now.
After the Wendy's debacle, I got a lot better at picking places that were secluded and sparsely populated. I was working for a paving company, and we’d just started a new job. No one lived in the area; the perfect place to enjoy a night of pleasure. Wrong. The company hired a security company to patrol the job site. We were both stark naked when the guard pulled up, knocked on the window, and said, “I don't care what you’re doing, but you can't do it here.”
“Ah, yes, sir. We were just getting ready to leave.” We must have driven around Tulsa for thirty minutes trying to find a place to put our clothes back on. She was laughing the whole time as I drove the streets of Tulsa. She was so beautiful in the moonlight. I really did love this girl.
And that is how we spent those lazy wonderful days my senior year. But the crowning moment was my Senior Prom.
Unlike the ring incident, I couldn't wait to ask her if she would be my date for the Senior Prom. I wish I could recount the exact happenings, but that memory has faded. I just know how excited I was when she accepted my invitation. But there was an obstacle with the prom—transportation. For some odd reason after I asked her if she would accompany me and she accepted, I promptly told her I was driving my truck and if she didn't like the idea, she wouldn't be going to the prom with me. What an idiot! A lot of the guys were going to rent limos or borrow Dad's Cadillac. Not me, I was going to drive my fire engine red F-100. I let her know, probably a little too harshly, if she wanted to go the prom she would be riding in my truck. No if, ands, or buts about it. I would completely sterilize it. It would be immaculately clean and nothing would damage or get her dress dirty. She looked at me with those big oval deep brown eyes, “Jeff, I don't care how we get to the dance as long as I am going with you.” I’m convinced if she would have suggested I drive something else, I would’ve done it.
With the transportation issue resolved, it was her turn to make a few requests. I needed to rent a brown tux and bring her a yellow rose wrist corsage. I also needed to get a haircut or at least have it trimmed so she could see my eyes. Done. I couldn't say no to her. I loved her completely with all my heart and soul.
The dance was Saturday at 8:00pm; dinner reservations for 7:00. I would have to get up early to properly cleanse the truck so I wouldn't be late and that is what I did. Up at 7:00am (I only got up this early if I was working), got the hose, the brush and every other cleaner available and attacked the truck. I am here to tell you when I was finished after four grueling hours, it was show room quality inside and out. There wasn't a speck of dust inside or any squished bugs on the outside. It was spotless.
I headed to her house at 6:00pm. I couldn't wait to see her. She’d given me an idea what her dress looked liked, and I couldn't wait to see her in it.
She was so beautiful in her brown and white chiffon, the yellow rose corsage, and yes, my class ring. Place all of that on her perfectly tanned body, she was absolutely stunning. We went to Steak and Ale for dinner with three other couples. It was the first time I’d been asked what I would like to drink, or if we would like to see the wine list. Hell, we were still in high school, and I probably blew a chance to get a few drinks without getting in trouble, but back then they didn't ID like they do today. Dinner was outstanding with one exception, I ordered sautéed mushrooms. Debbie looked at me and said, “If you’re going to eat fungus, please hide it from me.”
“Fungus? These are mushrooms, and they are so good. You should try some.”
“I don't eat fungus!”
“Okay, okay, I'll hide them somewhere.” The only way I wouldn't have eaten them is if she would have said, If you want me to kiss tonight, you better not eat fungus. Those words would have stopped me cold.
The dance was simply wonderful. I showed her off to all of my friends. I was so happy to be with her and say, “This is Debbie, my girlfriend.” Everything was going my way.
Going into the summer of 1978, everything was on track. Grades were good enough to graduate, I'm making eight dollars an hour working for a construction company pouring concrete, and Debbie is my girlfriend. Life is great!
During the days, I would work ten to twelve hours, doing what I loved, pouring concrete. The work was hard, but it sure beat flipping burgers for two-fifteen an hour. I loved it because we didn't do the same thing every day, and when the day was done, I had more than just a paycheck to show for my toils. Debbie, on the other hand, had a job at one of the newest malls in Tulsa working at Morrow's Nut and Candy store. I could wear whatever I wanted to at work while she was relegated to a cute little uniform. I forgot the colors, but she wasn't very enthusiastic with the selection. Think the colors were an off color orange with yellow stripes and a hat. She hated the hat.
With my schedule it was difficult to get together during the week, so I would call her on the phone, and we would discuss how each others’ days went and how we couldn't wait to see and be in each others’ arms again. I always looked forward to talking to her. Saturday could never get here fast enough even if both of us were working; I usually only worked half a day or just eight hours. If she worked, I made it a point as soon as the whistle blew, to hop in my truck and head straight to the mall. She looked so cute behind the counter. Every once in a while, when there were no customers around, we could sneak a quick kiss and telling each other how much in love we were, plus, she would slip me some dried apricots. Oh, how I love dried apricots.
When Debbie wasn't working, she spent her days by the pool in her backyard tanning. She loved water, where I, on the other hand, enjoyed it only if I was fishing. I cannot recall how many times she and her parents would invite me to go swimming or hang out around the pool all day. Let's see, I work ten to twelve hours in the sun and really, the last place I want to be is baking in the heat for fun. They must have thought I was brain dead. Come to think of it, they were probably right. I mean, here is this beautiful girl in a bikini, just smoking hot. It didn't matter how many times she asked, even with those big brown puppy dog eyes, there just wasn't any enticing myself to go for a swim. Stupid, stupid, stupid. With exception of not partaking in the swimming activities, we had a great summer. Going to movies, hanging out with friends, going to the local arcade. We crammed a lifetime of fun into three very short months.
As the summer of ‘78 started coming to a close, we both knew I would be heading off to Oklahoma State University. I wasn't real happy about going to college, but Dad and I made a deal. I would go one semester, and if I didn't like it then I would come back to Tulsa and go to work for John Gowin building roads. Debbie wasn't really excited about me going off to college, but she understood. We didn't talk about it much. We enjoyed the summer and made the most of it.
When the day arrived for me to head off to Stillwater (OSU), we cried, hugged, and kissed. Her parting words were, “Don't worry about us. We’ll be okay. I love you!”
She was right. We had nothing to worry about.