Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Ronald Tipton and Patrick Flynn, 2017.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Shallow and Shy Sixteen Year Old Scores Sometimes (Sort of)

In the summer of 1957 (sounds like a song title) I had a brush with romance aided by the salt-sea air of Wildwood, NJ and a dimpled-eyed girl named Jeannette (pictured left). My friend, Richard Wilson, plucked her and her sister out of the sand, but Jeannette liked me and for a week it was wonderful.

Although I kept in touch with her by weekly letters for the next year, distance dissolved away our relationship through inconvenience and she found a local boy to flutter those lashes at.

And I sank into a-broodin' my inability to get a girlfriend. My mother kept assuring me I wasn't the loser I claimed and that I would get a girl. Mothers must say things like that, it's a law of motherhood, but I held onto my teenage angst. I still wasn't getting any partners at the school dances, while Richard waltzed away at will. (This is an expression, you understand. I'm not that old. They weren't playing waltzes at those Spring Flings and Fall Fantasies; at least I'm pretty sure "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" wasn't a waltz.)

I was a good dancer actually. Richard and other friends through parties now and again and I danced a lot with a girl named Joan Bodor (pictured right). That is us jitterbugging on the left at one of those parties. I was a regular Fred Astaire of The Bop. Joan was one of the regulars in our circle and she did join Richard and I and a couple others in various activities, but for some reason in never crossed my mind to actually ask her out on a date with just me.

But by the Spring of 1958 pressure was building that would force
me to muster up some courage. Poster's were up advertising "An Evening in Shangri-La", the Junior Prom. The Junior Prom frankly was a big deal. I don't know why, but the Junior Prom carried more status than the Senior Prom. I really wanted to go to the Junior Prom, but unlike the other school dances you could not go stag to the Proms. If I were to go I had to bring a date.

But who?

Now forgive me, but I was a 16 year old teenage boy. There are few more shallow than 16 year old boys, even shy ones. It didn't matter how much of a loser I might have viewed myself, whatever girl I went with couldn't be a loser, too. Now I knew the cream of
teenage boy fancies, the homecoming queens and cheerleader types, were above reach, so they were out. If you fear rejection there is no reason to guarantee it. Besides They all had steady boyfriends, guys on the football team who could twist me into a pretzel if I set eyes on their gal. I had to find a girl who probably didn't have a date yet, but wasn't quite a "dog". (Hey, yeah that's cold, but I'm being realistic here. That was the term of the times and I was no saint, even if I was no prize myself.)

Sitting across the aisle from me in Drivers' Ed was this tall blond. She wore glasses (as did I, of course) and she was not as slim as some of the others. She wasn't fat, but she was a bit puffy. I figured she hadn't been asked to the Prom and so I asked and she said yes and we went.

When I picked her up I was rocked back a bit by the dress she wore. Funny thing about time, looking at the picture today the dress looks like a dress, but believe it or not, at that time that was a radical outfit. It was a new style
that no living person ever saw being sported in the Pottstown region. It was called a "Trapeze Dress". And I feared the reaction of our fellow schoolmates to this skinny nerd and his date's circus dress.

I, who regularly wore orange Flag Flyers (pictured left) was worried about someone else's taste in clothes?

We went to the Prom and we stayed for the post-Prom party, a device created to keep us wild 1950s
teenagers pretending we were in a crepe paperValley of the Blue Moon in Shangri-La until the local bars closed at 2:00 AM.

And after 2:00 AM several of us headed to Reading to engage at a nefarious late night activity in an all-night bowling alley.

Peggy, that was her name, and I had a great time and first thing I knew in the bleary haze of daybreak I had asked her out on another date. This second date led to a third and so forth and before we knew it we were "going steady".

We spent a lot of time together. It was only the Prom that saw us spend the night together. Getting home after the sun came up was almost a habit, but there was no "Sparkin'", "Petting", "Tomfollery" in those nights, just talk. Her mother and father trusted me, I think her mother liked me more than Peggy did. My own parent set no curfews. We went to dances, we went bowling, we went to the drive-in movies, but it was a strange romance.

All those months and hardly a kiss!

And then one summer eve at the Exton Drive-in the strangest thing happened. It was a double date with Richard and his steady of the moment, Barb. They were somewhere in the backseat, prone as it were and fairly active. This was not the strange thing. This was a quite common thing with Richard.

Peg and I were seated in the front seat, quite upright, staring at the big screen across the lot. I slipped my arm across the back of the seat and then I let my hand fall upon her far shoulder and…

…and she bit my thumb. I mean, she BIT MY THUMB! It was no
little love nip, it was a chomp. It hurt, man. I wasn't going to go no further than put my hand upon her shoulder and she bit my thumb after all those dates over all those month!

Beyond that night I wondered what future we had. I did not want to lose my digits one by one, but I was thinking I need lose one girlfriend, really my one and only girlfriend.

But how? I needed have fretted, waiting in the wings was my best friend Ronald and what would soon come resolved the issue and proved me even more shallow.

[By the way at the fifth year reunion of high school I chanced to meet Peggy sitting at the bar. I did not know it was her. I just saw this beautiful blond lady in a tiny dress that did not hide her charms. She struck up a conversation and after a while asked, "You don't know who I am, do you?" No, I did not. "I'm Peggy," she said and what she really said without saying it was, "Aren't you sorry now?"

The incident did inspire a short-short story published several decades later in Creative Writers, Joe Potasche, editor.


She entered. To her left were round tables covered with white cloths lining both walls. A man and two women greeted arrivals and handed out name tags at the door. Up front was a stage where a DJ puttered, preparing records for the evening. Most of the floor was open for dancing.

She went through a wide doorway to her right into the bar and climbed onto one of the stools. Her dress rode high on her thighs as she sat. The bartender ambled over, drying his hands on a small towel. He looked her over. Finally he raised his eyes to her face.

“What’ll it be, Lady?” His gaze slipped down again.

“A cosmopolitan,” she said.

He nodded and backed away, managed to unlock his stare and went to mix the cocktail.

She couldn’t really blame him, could she? She chose to wear the black dress that barely covered the two and a half feet between cleavage and knees. It was not what mother would have picked for her reunion. Her mother often told her: “If a woman displays modesty, men will show respect.”

The men certainty kept a respectful distance in high school. She was puffy then; not exactly fat, but her legs and arms had the look of a blow-up doll. Her hips were wider then her chest and she wore “birth-control” glasses. She was born-blond, but her mother had always clipped her hair short and straight, giving her the look of the boy on the Dutch Cleanser can.

The drink arrived. She swiveled around to see the people in the ballroom. She recognized Brock approaching with two empty glasses in hand. He didn’t look a bit different from when they dated. She had been amazed when he asked her out and more so when he continued to. Then Stella came along and he dropped her for that swiveled-hipped girl with the jet-black hair and dark eyes. She was lonesome before Brock. After Brock she was not just lonesome, she was miserable.

Still, he had changed her life. After Brock she exercised her body to what it was today. After Brock she got contact lens. After Brock she let her hair grow long and lustrous and curl like sunbeams around her face.

 He came to the bar. He stopped next to her and motioned for refills. One glance her way and his face simmered with lust. He peeked down at the roundness peeking from the bodice of her dress, then at the long smooth thighs more than peeking from the hem.

“Well, hello,” he said.

“You don’t know me, do you?”

He shook his head.

“I’m Dotty.”

He froze. The fresh drinks in his hands splashed dark spots across his tie. He walked away in a slump of defeat and embarrassment.

Her mother said if a woman displayed modesty men would show respect. She displayed what modesty hid and the men showed regret.

And that was so much more satisfying.

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