top of page

First Date

It's almost a little cruel going from the top of the food chain as a sixth-grader into a school occupied by grades seventh through twelfth. Montgomery Central is a giant swimming pool occupied by hormone-driven adolescents pushed in with the option to sink or swim. Some students look like they could still be breastfeeding, while others have full-on Grizzly Adams beards. Seventh grade was a blur trying to find my way around and making new friends. Somehow I survived, and I can only hope eighth grade will be more manageable.

The first bus ride of the year is always a little exciting. I get to see all of my old friends, and it's fun meeting the kids who are new to the neighborhood. This particular year started right up with the hope of romance in my future. The driver took us down an unfamiliar road and stopped at a house I'd never seen before. It was the first time I made eye contact with Carol. She walked up the steps, and before sitting across the aisle from me, she smiled. "Wait, did she grin at me? She probably saw the sleeping drooly-faced kid next to me and thought it was funny. Gosh, he's going to cramp my style. Maybe she did smile at me," I thought while frantically trying to avoid eye contact for the remainder of the journey.

The whole scenario played out the same for two full months. Carol would get on the bus, we'd both smile, and then I'd ignore her because I panicked and had no idea of how to seize the day. I should have never stopped reading comics because that's when all of my girl problems started. Graduating to stuff like "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may" has me constantly thinking about love and time. Time is on my side right now, but it'll be lost one day soon, and what if I never love? All adults ever do, is complain about how hard life can be and how lucky fourteen-year-olds like myself have it. Did they forget what it's like to be afraid and how paralyzing situations can be, or is it all a giant lie they tell kids to prepare us for adulthood? Maybe I'll figure that out one day.

"Gosh, it's getting cold," escapes my mouth to be carried away by the frozen air for a moment before mixing with the heavy fog of a November morning. My footprints take the place of our first frost of the season while I hop to stay warm at the bus stop. Today is the day. I'm planning on asking Carol on a date. My brother already told me he'd be our chauffeur if I ever worked up enough nerve, so that's covered. We'll strike up a deep conversation, and before arriving at MCHS, I will have secured my very first date.

Carol's stop came and went, and she didn't get on as luck would have it. Today was supposed to be my time to shine, so hopefully, I'll have enough nerve when I see her again. My heart was a little broken because I didn't get to sit across from her. We never spoke, but I'd gotten used to being near my brown-eyed companion. The empty seat is a reminder that I must act soon.

Janet, Carol's good friend, stopped me on the way to first-period PE to talk. She informed me that Carol likes me and would like to be my girlfriend if I'd ever ask. After exiting the conversation, I was more worried than ever. What if she is only caught up in the idea of being my girlfriend? She hardly knows me, after all. Our first conversation could quite possibly be our last if I say the wrong thing. Those rosebuds are already beginning to wilt.

After getting dressed for gym class, I got lost in conversation with my buddies, Brian and Wade, before roll call. "Did someone fart?" I inquired while my two pals wondered the same thing. Billy turned around to assure us no one farted this time, and it was actually Wayne. He'd spent the morning cleaning out the chicken coops before school, and a few souvenirs hitchhiked on the bottom of his sneakers. We were all thankful it wasn't us and changed the topic.

My friends encouraged me to ask Carol out finally because they were probably tired of me talking about it. Caught up in our discussion, I'd missed my name, and Coach Cron gave me twenty push-ups. Wayne was on the bottom row of the bleachers, so I made sure to distance myself before the workout. The smell of a gymnasium is terrible enough without subtle hints of chicken poop swirling around my nostrils as I take deep breaths.

Later in the day, I noticed Carol in the hallway. "Carpe diem," I thought over and over as I approached her with shaky knees and an accelerated heartbeat. After greeting one another, I asked her why she wasn't on the school bus. Before she could finish her explanation, I blurted out, "Would you like to go on a date?" Her flawless smile chased away the brief pause with welcomed relief before the bell signaled our tardiness. Being late to my sixth period didn't phase me in the least. We held hands on the way to the bus that afternoon after class.

My birthday was back in July, and somehow I managed to save most of the cash for a special occasion. A first date qualifies, so I went all out and spared no expense. During our weekly trip to Montgomery Ward, I found a great deal on a necklace in the jewelry section. After dropping half of my money on it, the other half was for the movies. We both love to laugh, so we decided on Spies Like Us with Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd.

(Play the podcast here)

We arrived at my date's house; I hopped from the car and rushed up the sidewalk to the front door. Knock, knock, knock. Carol's mother answered and invited me inside to have a seat. She told me her daughter would only be a minute and was super friendly. All I could think about while I sat on the couch was how excited I was about the big night. I imagined how thrilled she'd be after I gave her the gift and how we'd get to hold hands during the entire movie. Maybe I'd even be able to swing my first kiss at the end of our evening. Carol walked into the room, and I couldn't help but believe she was way out of my league.

The ride to the theater lasted forever. There was so much to say but not while my big brother was in the front seat driving. The experience was awkward enough without him becoming part of the conversation. He drove off as we walked to the box office and paid for the two tickets. We had a few minutes before the show started, so I suggested we take a stroll. A few flurries began to fall, and I figured it would be romantic if I presented her gift before we went inside. The half-moon was peeking at us through the clouds, and everything could not have been more sublime.

We stopped under a street lamp long enough for me to reach into my pocket to pull out her surprise. "Chris, this is beautiful," she told me before wrapping her arms around my neck to give me a tight squeeze. That embrace was worth every dime I spent earlier at the store for my new girlfriend. She asked me to put it on her, and I was successful after fumbling around for a minute or so. It was off to the concession stand for a couple of sodas before the movie.

I couldn't tell you anything about the comedy except that it was rather magical sitting beside a pretty girl with her hand in mine. Occasionally we'd glance at each other and giggle. Sometimes I'd give her a tiny squeeze, and she'd return the favor. My fingers had fallen asleep about halfway in, but I wasn't about to waste a second neglecting her touch. This moment took two months to materialize, and every ounce of it would secure a spot in my heart forever.

We whispered and laughed all the way back to her house after leaving the cinema. The only time Carol took her head off my shoulder was to briefly admire her new necklace. Soon I would be face to face with her at the front door. Hopefully, we would end with the kiss that's been in the making for fourteen years. Nervousness began to rear its ugly face, but I was confident enough to seize the day. It's too bad the climax would also indicate the end of our enchanting evening under the moonlight.

Not a single word broke through the silence as I escorted her toward the house. All I wanted was a peck on the cheek, and I'd drown in complete fulfillment. Tonight everything will change, and I will officially be on my way to adulthood. We stopped at the front door, and she thanked me for a fantastic time. Her mesmerizing copper eyes drew me in like a tractor beam straight out of Star Wars. My heart was screaming through my chest the closer I got to her lips. Just before we connected and ultimately sealed the deal, she asked me to wait. "I don't like to French kiss," she uttered before I pulled away. Alright, I had no clue what a French kiss was, and I was not about to ruin everything, so I settled for another hug and told her goodbye.

Carol and I held hands at school for a couple of more weeks before going our separate ways. Things didn't work out how I wanted them to, but my first date was in the books, and I officially had a girlfriend for a little while. My first kiss came along just before my sixteenth birthday with a girl named Jeannie, unless we count Teresa. I know it's confusing, but I'll explain that another day.

"Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,

Old Time is still a-flying;

And this same flower that smiles today

Tomorrow will be dying." - Robert Herrick

6 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All