I don’t consider myself pretty. I’ve seen much prettier women than me. However, despite this flaw and my tendency to be an introvert, I’ve always been able to put on a good mask of being presentable and friendly. The mask was a strategy of the survival of my teenage years.
After Bob and I let our phone relationship dwindle, I started flirting with the boys at the local public swimming pool. None of us took it seriously at all. Back then, most girls didn’t have a boyfriend in junior high school. It was a time used to learn how to flirt successfully and feel a little more relaxed when being with the opposite sex before hitting the big time in high school.
I must have learned a lot at that pool that summer before I went to high school because I ended up having a boyfriend by the end of my first day at my ‘new’ school. (In the Denver School District, high school was for sophomores, juniors and seniors. Freshmen were still part of the junior high school crowd.) I wasn’t even fifteen yet, and I wouldn’t be until the middle of the following week. To say the least, my two close friends at the time, Debbie and Mickie were envious.
I met him, kind of, in Study Hall. It was the one and only year that I had this class. The idea of a study hall went by the wayside after that. We had to sit in alphabetical order by last name so I was in the second to last row. He sat right next to me in the last row closest to the windows. We were expected to have something to do. The teacher, Mr. Johnson, monitoring the class had a strict ‘no-talking’ rule along with the other ones like no gum, no spit wads, no leaning back in the chairs, you must have something to occupy your time, etcetera.
The class I had just come from was English, and the teacher had taken us to the school library to pick out two books to read for our first assignment that would be due the following week. This meant I had something to do during my time in Study Hall that first day.
The boy sitting next to me, Gary, didn’t have anything with him except his schedule for the new school year. Mr. Johnson walked up to him and gave him a tongue-lashing for not being prepared. It was obvious that Gary was humiliated. I’m sure he wanted to sock the teacher one good one.
When Mr. Johnson went back to his desk at the front of the room, I pulled out the other book I had picked out at the library and plopped it into Gary’s lap. He looked at me, mouthed a thank-you, and started flipping through the pages.
When the bell rang for the class to end, he gave the book back and walked out of the classroom. I figured I’d see him the next day with something to do during the class time. I didn’t give him a second thought after that.
When I got home that afternoon, I did my normal: drop my books on my bed, go to the bathroom, change my clothes, get a celery stick, and start my studies. But the telephone rang. Mom came into my room telling me that it was for me. “Who is it?” I asked as I got up from my bed.
“I don’t know,” she said with a smile on her lips.
I trudged to the kitchen to pick up the receiver of the only phone for everyone in the house. (My parents had an extension in their room but my brother and I weren’t allowed in there unless invited.) It was Gary on the other end. “How did you get my number?” I asked.
“Your library card was in the book you lent me for Study Hall.”
Oops. I had forgotten all about my card. My phone number AND my address were on it for anyone to see.
He asked if he could stop by to show me his pet. My thoughts were that it was a strange way to get to know someone, but I said okay.
He came driving up to my house in a Fiat, a small boxy-looking car. Until that moment, I hadn’t known he was sixteen or better. Of course, my first question when he got out of his car was to ask him how old he was. He was sixteen and a junior in high school. Not only had I landed a boyfriend, but one who was a grade ahead of me too. I was raking up serious clout points.
Oh… his pet – it was a spider monkey. We talked on the front porch for over an hour. The kids on my block came over in a herd to see Gary’s monkey that was climbing and playing on the trellis that was on the side of the porch. Before he left, he asked me out for the next Sunday. I had to tell him that he’d have to wait for an answer because I was going to have to talk my parents into this. After all, it was for a Sunday and I wasn’t officially fifteen yet. (My parents’ rule for me was that I couldn’t date until I was fifteen.)
As it turned out, Gary’s grandmother went to our church. Despite the reluctance my parents had, they agreed to let me go out with him if I was home by 11:00pm.
The reason the date was on a Sunday was that it was a special dance where The Archies were going to be performing. The Archies were one of the popular groups playing what was called ‘Bubblegum Music’ during the late 1960s.
I dated Gary for three months. He was the one who broke it off saying he wanted to date other girls as well as me. I wasn’t even aware that we were ‘going steady’, but I was hurt nevertheless. We didn’t date after that until I was a senior and he was in college.