Saturday, June 10, 2006

Old Girlfriends, Part One


I don’t even remember now where I met Cindy M. I know she rode with me to Summer school in 1974, but I don’t think that’s where I met her – although it might have been; a tiny bell just went off that sounded like Cindy’s sister Pam asking me if I would give her little sister a ride to school so she wouldn’t have to. (Pam was a year ahead of me but I knew her cuz she was in band and I hung out with the band people even though I couldn't play any instrument but the radio.) Anyway, I needed a credit to move up to 11th grade. Cindy was just a rising freshman, but I guess she had some unfinished business back in the eighth grade. I can’t imagine she was getting a jump on high school; she was a pretty girl but by no means a brain.

I do remember our first date – we went to the South Windermere Theater on a double date with Pam and her boyfriend. I have no idea what movie we saw but I can tell you every word we spoke during those two hours.

Me: So, do you want some popcorn or something?
Cindy: No, thanks.

For the first hour of the movie I was debating with myself whether or not I should try to hold her hand or put my arm around her. In fact the debate was so intense that I probably haven’t forgotten what the movie was, I probably didn’t even know it at the time. Somehow I did work up the courage to hold her hand, and I clung to it till the credits rolled even though I became severely dehydrated from all the water I lost through my palm.

I do not remember our first kiss, but I do remember a time when Pam and Cindy came to my house after dinner. They were walking around the neighborhood selling something or collecting for some cause, probably Rainbow Girls, an organization they were active in; I even went to a Rainbow Girls installation that I had forgotten about until two seconds ago. Cindy and I stood in the foyer and smooched while Pam talked to the old folks. (What a pal!) Then I went walking with them although I’m sure people must have thought I was one ugly rainbow girl. I didn’t care. It was a beautiful Summer night, I was able to hold Cindy’s hand now without needing an IV and we laughed and kidded around with Pam. That was probably our best moment as a couple.

The best but not the most memorable. That would be the occasion of the Yacht Club dance. Cindy was nervous because she had just got braces. She needn’t have worried, she looked great. In fact, out there in the parking lot leaning against the bumper of that Volkswagen 411 was the first time I ever said, “I love you” to her. Mercifully she said “I love you too.” And thinking about it now I hope I wasn’t so calculating as to time that announcement specifically when she was feeling insecure and more likely to respond in kind. I don’t think so.

I wasn’t nervous but I probably should have been. I was wearing a dress shirt – a new experience for me. I never wore anything that had to be tucked in. That’s what I called the cursed things too – tuck-in shirts. But it was a semi-formal event and I wanted to look good for Cindy. The only problem was I couldn’t get it to look right. Naturally I had no experience with tucking in shirts (except for church and I didn’t really care how I looked at church; I was just counting the minutes till I could get out of that tuck-in shirt) and no matter how many times I tried there was always some billowing out or something. I wanted it to look perfect which to my mind meant absolutely tucked, no billow, like a Ken doll all dressed up for a night out on the town with Barbie. (It would be years before I learned that this look I had in mind was impossible to achieve.)

After a couple of hours of standing in front of the mirror I hit upon what I believed to be the perfect solution. I tucked the shirt tails into my underwear. Now that looked sharp! Absolutely nothing billowing.

I had been praying that the music would be all slow songs. but of course it wasn’t. Our conversation was almost as awkward as my dancing, but at least I had the consolation of knowing that I looked good – well, not me so much as my perfectly-tucked shirt tails. I kept checking them every few minutes to make sure they hadn’t come untucked, and they hadn’t. But what I did not realize that while I was out there gyrating spastically around to Abba or the Starland Vocal Band or whoever, my underwear started riding up. From the back it was obvious that my shirt was tucked into my underwear, and my underwear was headed toward my shoulders.

It could have been a huge traumatic disaster but Tommy Meteraud pulled me to the side and discretely informed me of what my Froot of the Looms were doing. (What a pal!) I’m sure Cindy saw it but she never said anything. Neither did I.

Unfortunately this great love affair did not end happily or even dramatically. Cindy M’s father was one of the meanest men I’d ever met. Nobody believed me when I told tales of this tyrant and his terrible temper until the day he had a temper tantrum at the Hess station where my brother was working. Now I have at least one witness. Anyway I brought Cindy home a few minutes late one night and she got put on restriction for eight or nine years.

We never officially broke up but Summer was almost over and so were we. The next time I became aware of her she was dating some rock-headed JV football player and I had moved onto a girl named Laura B, a definite step down.

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