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Summer Of 88

Updated: Aug 13, 2021

It was one year before the big graduation day. A gallon of gas was .91 cents, and I couldn't stop listening to Guns N' Roses. Big hair was in; speaking of big hair, I could afford to see Big twice at the movies because tickets were $3.50. Welcome to the summer of 1988.

My first car was a 1971 Volvo. My brother, Larry, tried his best to make me believe it was a cool car. "Looks a lot like a Mercedes," he told me. I think it lasted about a week before falling apart on the way to work one day. I ended up buying Larry's 1985 white Cutlass with a vinyl roof. I'm guessing he gave me a good deal because he felt terrible about the "Mercedes." That Cutlass was Sweeeet! The first thing I did was purchase some shiny rims and install a decent radio. Summertime here I come!

My group of friends was the best. We may not have been the most popular kids around, but we had swag. I surrounded myself with a pretty smart bunch of guys. They say if you hang out with the wrong crowd, people automatically assume you're some sort of a hoodlum. I'm not sure if there is any truth to that. I can, however, tell you that when you hang with the smart kids, everyone believes you are a genius. It put me in some awkward situations because I spent a ton of time trying to convince my peers to cheat off someone else, or they were going to fail. So I was classified as one of the nerds. I was alright with this. Let's be honest, I could have been called much worse, so I wore it as a badge of honor. Looking back, the title of dork would have fit me much better anyway.

A young man can only sit around with his buddies talking about girls so long before finally working up the nerve to make an actual move. Trust me; we talked about the opposite sex all of the time. Sure we hung out, went to Funland arcade, and went bowling. We were teenage boys, so we were terrific at multitasking. I could pick up a spare easily while talking about Keli. I could break my old Galaga record while describing how perfect we would be together. The whole group knew it was all talk. Each one of us was guilty. None of us could ever work up the nerve to ask a girl out.

(Hear me tell the story)

I guess when a guy beats himself down so much, it can have the opposite effect. We get to the point of totally giving up then something miraculous happens. Inspiration hits us like a fat kid hits the candy store, and we finally grow a pair. I had made up my mind to make the call. I was not going to wait for the new school year to start. I was prepared to begin my summer romance with her, with Keli.

I could read a phone book. I knew what street she lived on! We had entered the friend zone my junior year, so I had a few details. It was way before Facebook, so I had to do things the hard way. I dialed the first digit with confidence. By the time I was on the last couple of numbers, my spirit was barely strong enough to hold the receiver to my ear. I recall how mortified I was when the ring sounded off. I can remember saying to myself, "she must not be home," and prepared to hang up. With each ring, I relaxed a little more, thinking she wouldn't answer. Out of nowhere, I hear the sweetest sound on the other end "hello," she said. Immediately I slammed the phone down. That was enough! That was it! My heart was pounding, and my hands wouldn't stop shaking! Damn it! I was such a loser.

Looking back at the summer of 1988, I realize how wonderful it truly was. I had my friends; I had the car; I was invincible. Maybe I didn't have the nerve to call Keli, but that gave me another summer with my buddies to build memories I'll never forget. It's a shame we can't recognize the good old days while we are living them. I wouldn't change a thing about that year. I finally worked up the nerve to ask the girl out, by the way, but that's a story for another time.

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