My First Date
First, before I get started, is anyone else having a hard time posting stories using the Medium app? It says to click on my mug but it isn’t working. I’ve tried Safari, my iPhone and my iPad and nothing. So this is being written on my MacBook Pro. Would be interested to hear if anyone else is having issues.
With that in mind, the story of my first date. It was a long time in coming. I became interested in girls at 13, and most of my adventures were not great. There were the occasional bright spots — skating with a pretty blonde during couples skate sometime in March 1981, a girl giving me a big hug and her phone number at the end of my job at YMCA summer camp in 1981, getting my first and second kiss the same day in June 1981 (one after the girl wrote something incredibly sweet and kind in my yearbook, even though she, playfully, acted like Lucy after Snoopy kissed her) and a few others — but nothing. And it occupied a lot of my bandwidth, an unhealthy amount. Our dad told me to not pay attention to it, and what did I say? “What the hell does he know.” Because of course I did.
I had a job at Caldor for Christmas season and I got to know a girl — we’ll call her Deidre (not her real name)- and we got along well. Not a connection, but we became friends. After the season ended, I gave her a kiss, and moved on. And I figured that’d be the end of it.
Then, during Italian Club one day, someone asked me “Hey, do you know Deidre? She’s looking for you.” A girl? Looking for me? I had not long ago been suspended three days for the unthinkable sin of throwing a punch at a thug who beat the shit out of me because I was trying to talk to his GF at the time (I won’t get into a complete lack of self confidence here, and other shortcomings), but still.
And again, I didn’t think of it. Then, on April 2 I get a call from someone — We’ll call him Wayne (again, not his real name, and a guy who I didnt call) who called me and said: “Do you know Deidre? She wants to talk to you!” He said he almost took advantage himself, but decided not to. He gave me her number, and I called her.
What she said blew me away. “Will you go to the prom with me?” Here I am, never having been on a date, and I’m being asked to go to the prom! What do you think I said. And then I said, “How would you like to go on a warm up date Friday, April 8th?” And she said sure! Never mind that I had just gotten my license the day before and I wasn’t insured — she did drive, and she drove me.
During the week leading up, I was amped beyond. I mentioned it in one of my classes and one of the girls said “You’re going on a Date?” (Yeah, I’m going on a date.). Another girl was a sweetheart, as I was getting on the bus that afternoon she said “Have a great time tonight!” That was nice.
So the night comes. Deidre was going to be at my house at 7. We were going to see 48 Hours at a theatre nearby. And what does our mom say? “Oh, I dont know that’s kind of racy.” Whatever.
Wardrobe. What to wear? I had a velour shirt, purple and tan, pretty cool for 1983. Had a hole in it. Went with the alternate: a greenish-blue velour shirt with rust highlights. It was as bad as it sounds. But there were no holes.
It poured like a mother that night. And then it poured some more. Everyone in the house went out, somewhere, and I was home by myself. I remember “Let’s Dance” by David Bowie came out from the station I was listening to.
Soon after, Deidre shows up in a VW Bug. I kissed her at the door and we went to her house. We watched two long forgotten sitcoms on ABC: “Baby Makes Five” and “At Ease”, a military comedy with Jimmie Walker in a featured role. So we’re watching this and Deidre went to the bathroom. And I’m sitting there, wanting to hold hands during the show. And when she came back I asked her, want to hold hands? And she said Sure! And when she became animated she held my hand even tighter. Then when we headed out, we gave each other a hug, and Deidre introduced me to something else I hadn’t experienced! The movie was a good time, her dropping me off home was a reprise of what happened at her house. Of course our mom made me ask her “Call me when you get home.” Which she did.
It was the first of what would be many. And it was good.
There were other positive experiences that happened between then and the prom, which was 4/29/83, three weeks later. Things were going OK. But then when our mom found out the color of her “gown” she asked — told- me to wear a light gray tuxedo. I didn’t want to. I hated it. But I knuckled under. (Do you see a theme here?). How bad was it? There is no light gray in my wardrobe. Maybe a pair of slacks, the trim on the Patriots uniforms, but that is it.
The prom was an unmitigated disaster. I was nervous as hell. When I relaxed, I became obnoxious. The lowlights: licking my butter knife, talking loud about hockey, playing air drums. Deidre told me afterward “We were appalled by your lack of manners.” That was embarassing and she called me out that it was “a night of embarassment” for her. Yeah, I would say so. But I was sixteen. This was new ground for me.
For the next two months I played desperation alley. She stayed on the phone with me for an hour one time trying to reason with me. Didn’t work. I won’t get into too much of the details but I did things that embarrass me even today, things that I wince when I think of them.
But I survived. I moved on. When I went to my own prom in 1984, if anything, I had gone too far the other way bending over backwards being, if not bland, just subdued. I will say, that was THE BEST prom table I ever sat at. Ten superstars. Every single one cool. Maybe not conventionally cool, but I liked all of them very much. I’d pick the table if it were mine to pick, easy. So the lessons learned in ’83 panned out in ’84, big time.
So that’s it. Would I do it again? Absolutely. Would I do it differently, especially from the prom forward? Put it this way: I would have gone full “Opposite George”. But, I did what I did and I learned some valuable lessons. Not least of all, light gray tuxedos are NEVER a good idea. Ever!