Thursday, February 20, 2014

"There is no beautifier of complexion, or form, or behavior, like the wish to scatter joy and not pain around us." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

...then there was Bobbi... Bobbi was the nicest, kindest, prettiest, girl I've ever known. The last time I heard from her, a long time ago, she was married to a farmer, and they were raising pigs in Colorado! I wouldn't have predicted that future for Bobbi, but in that letter she also said that she'd named every one of those pigs... so like Bobbi! "In fact," she'd written, "Josephine is in our freezer right now!"

Bobbi had an older sister Sally, who, when she was just 16-years-old, actually sat in their living room and SMOKED, right in front of their Mother! It was the most amazing sight to me. Just a couple of years later, after we'd moved to Connecticut, Bobbi wrote me that her sister had become a dancer at the Copacabana night club in NYC. Then she wrote that Sally'd married an Italian man much older than she was... Finally, Bobbi sent me a photo of Sally holding their baby, standing next to her husband dressed in a pin-striped suit with a black shirt and tie and dark glasses. I''ve always wondered how her sister Sally ended up clear across the country in NYC... how she found a job dancing at the Copa... why she married an older man when she was so pretty and young.  I'm sure her life is an amazing tale, and I've wondered about the details and the why's and wherefore's...

But Sally wasn't Bobbi! There was only one Bobbi, and I was so happy to be her friend. We'd giggle, we'd talk about boys we "liked," we'd talk about what our futures would hold, and we'd talk about school. She told me once that we were closer than she and her sister ever were. For me, Bobbi was the sister I wished I had.

You know, I don't remember Bobbi ever being snide or sad or crabby or mean or even late with her homework! I don't even know if she was a straight-A student, because Bobbi never bragged! The best thing about her was that she wasn't fake! Bobbi saw the good in people, in places, and in things, too. She didn't seem to fit in with her family, though. But, then, you don't choose your family.

It was clear that Don, the cutest boy in our whole class "liked" Bobbi. Don played every single sport, and he played them well. Sometimes, he even raised his hand in class to answer the teacher's questions! They made a perfect couple in my eyes. But then, I was busy writing stories about ant armies fighting beetle armies through the grass in my front yard, and drawing pictures of horses, and reading lots and lots of books. I had some boys who had crushes on me, too, but none of them were as tall as my chin!  Don't get me wrong, though... I wasn't at all jealous of Bobbi. She was my "sister!"

One day I was invited to a party at Larry's house. We all were. Now, the top of Larry's head came just a little above my elbow, and, of course, he had a crush on "Bony Moroney" Terry Kingston! Bobbi and Don were going, and so was I.

When I was dressed and ready for the party, Dad drove me over to Larry's house. Larry answered the door and said the party was in the backyard. Outside, I saw a lovely little one-room log-cabin in the yard! I could see through its window that there was even a fireplace all ablaze. It was a magical locale.

Most of the kids were there, all of us 8th graders, except one. A tall, handsome boy was leaning against the wall in the midst of a flock of giggling girls. Joanie was there in the middle, of course. She was the prettiest girl in the whole junior high, it was a known fact! And I expected her to be right where she was. But who was that boy? Larry said that he was a friend of Don's who lived on his same street, he was 14 years old, his name was Chris, and then Larry grabbed me to dance.

It's hard to dance with a boy who only reaches to your shoulder, but there is a plus to it... You can watch everything in the room while you dance.  Larry was so busy trying not to step on my toes that he'd forgotten all about the rhythm of the music. I'd forgotten all about Larry because this stranger was looking at me! 

It made no sense! Joanie was right there in front of him, too pretty for words, but he was looking at me! Every time he moved, Joanie was right next to him, talking and giggling and just being an 8th grade temptress like always. But he kept looking at me and even smiling at me!

All at once, he boldly walked over to us and tapped Larry on the shoulder. I'd only seen that in movies! Larry, keeping an eye on his feet, said, "Whaddya want?"

"I want to dance with her!"

Larry said, "No! I'm dancing with her, and it's MY HOUSE!"

The young stranger took my hand, and then he and I began to dance. Meanwhile Larry kept on looking at his feet and dancing. It was at least 5 minutes before he realized he was dancing alone!

But I wasn't! I was in heaven! He said his name was Chris, and he'd found out my name was Terry. I got tingley when he said my name!

By the time the third record was playing, and Chris and I were still dancing, Joanie gave up. I saw her in the corner having a conversation with three other girls and shooting daggers at me with her not-so-lovely-now eyes! At least, I think that's what she was doing. All I really knew for sure was that I was floating!

I'd noticed once that Don and Bobbi stopped dancing for a minute, and Don had gone over to turn the lights a little lower. Larry had chased right behind him and turned the lights to their brightest, shooting me an angry glare. Lights, shmights... Who cared.... "Dream, Dream, Dream" by the Everly Brothers was playing, and I was in the midst of one heck of a dream!

Then he kissed me! It was a tender kiss, but it had landed a little wrong. Our lips met. It was bliss for about a minute and a half. But then the kiss continued and continued some more... Our lips were fused against our teeth and his nose and cheek were shoved against my nose and cheek, and I couldn't breathe! Yes, I was going to die!

As you may have guessed, I'm describing my first "real kiss." I had no idea of how to kiss or what to do... I was afraid to move. I thought that it was possible that I really could be smothered to death, but I wasn't going to be the one to stop this kiss! If I died, I died! What better way could there be, anyway? Of course, my parents would have to know about our kiss, as the ambulance rushed my dead 13-year-old body to the morgue, but I figured they had probably kissed a couple times in their lives, too.

I don't remember how that kiss ended... it could be that I was unconscious, briefly! But when I was aware again, I was still dancing with Chris to a replay of "Dream, Dream, Dream." It seems that Chris had decided that was "our song," and he commanded Larry to keep it going! At the end of the 22nd replay of that Everly Brothers tune, Chris asked me to "go steady! I think I nodded and smiled, but who knows. I DO know for a fact, that I couldn't talk right then. I was too busy floating among the clouds!

When I finally had to take a break and go to the "ladies room," Bobbi went with me. She said that Chris and Don wanted me to come to her house the next day so we four could play baseball. How romantic... I swooned, and said I'd be there... went back to the log cabin, fell into Chris' arms, and we danced in circles some more.

All at once some rude, socially unacceptable fool was saying, "Terry, it's time to come home. Terry, we're leaving..."

Dad! DAD! My Dad had come a little early to pick me up, and home we went.

"Did you have a good time, Terry?"

'Yes, Dad."

The next day Mom took me over to Bobbi's house, and there were the boys, all fitted out in baseball shirts and jeans, sitting there, throwing baseballs up in the air and catching them, and talking on Bobbi's front lawn.  The four of us wandered over to a baseball field in a park, nearby, and we played and talked, and it was Paradise... I was not just Terry Kingston! No, I was Terry Kingston, "the one who is going steady with Chris!" You see, he'd given me a ring to wear around my neck that very day.

The very next day when Dad came home from work, he and Mom told my brother and I to come sit down in the living room... he had something to tell us... Dad had been given a huge promotion, and we were moving to Stamford, Connecticut to live so he could commute to NYC for his new position in the company. We'd be moving in a week!

Bobbi wrote that there were other parties that summer, and Chris would go, but he wouldn't dance with anyone. He'd just lean against the nearest wall, stare at the floor, and look sad. Bobbi said that he'd ask her about me every time he saw her. And my tears didn't stop dripping from my eyes for a long, long time. 

And that's how I found myself living across the entire country, visiting NYC often, but never running into Bobbi's sister Sally... or ever seeing Bobbi again...

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