In the Spring of 1968 a group of guys I hung out with would play basketball at Lamont's house. Lamont had a terrible driveway to play basketball on, but his parents made him stay at home so we just made the best of a bad situation. Just a couple of houses to the south, a bevy of nubile young women used to listen and dance to records on their front porch. Girls our age moving their bodies rhythmically to music and giggling was like a bright light to a moth. Which is to say we were attracted to them. Since I already had a girlfriend I was not particularly interested other than watching the free show, purely from an artistic standpoint. Lamont’s neighbor to the north, Charlie, was very interested in one of the dancers whose name was Pat and wanted to meet her, but he was too shy to talk to her.
One day Lance was driving us home from school and drove up the street to drop off Lamont first. Lance noticed that the Jensen family car was not in the driveway and without hesitation he pulled his maroon 1962 Oldsmobile F-85 into the short, steep driveway. He proceeded to honk the horn, roll down the window and yell at the top of his lungs something to the effect of “Pat, come outside - Charlie wants to talk to you”. These type of pranks were common for the fun-loving “Savage Seven” as we called ourselves and I was just glad I was not the one being embarrassed. Pat was already home from school and hearing the commotion, opened a front window and leaned out to communicate with us. It is a curious phenomenon how a group of people, all apparently involved in exactly the same event can see and hear completely different things.
Those of us in the car interpreted her actions as a perfectly natural feminine response to a carload of handsome young men pulled sideways in the driveway, engine running, horn honking, and vocal chords straining.
Pat, on the other hand, could not understand how this carload of idiots did not see her mother right behind them trying to get into her own driveway. We finally did see her mom behind us and Lance sheepishly pulled out of the driveway and drove away.
Being an artist, I was always visually aware of the aesthetics of a situation. My focus was on the female form of the woman leaning out of that window, which would owing to the force of gravity alone afford a very pleasing view, even in a modest school uniform – a very pleasing view indeed.
Now I could understand why Charlie was so interested in Pat. I was now interested too, but I kept this to myself knowing that Charlie had first claim on her.
About a week later several of us where sitting at a table in front of Lamont’s house after school. It was Wednesday, April 24th, 1968, and a sunny 55 degrees. Pat was outside and Charlie was considering calling Pat, not knowing if she would welcome or reject his phone call. A solution came to my mind in an instant. I suggested that I take her a note from Charlie, asking if it was OK for him to call her. It is a time honored technique for a friend to deliver a note, and Charlie agreed to the plan. I would not be afraid to venture into the battlefield because my life was not on the line. It was a perfect excuse to see up close the objects that caught my attention. And, even if he had first dibs on Pat, her younger sister was quite the looker.
|Her sparkling eyes lit up my soul|
The saying “all’s fair in love and war” crossed my mind as I walked back to Lamont’s. This was love. I put the note with that precious phone number into my pocket and told Charlie that Pat said no, she was not interested in him. He had expected her to say no and was relieved it was over and no one brought it up again.
I guarded that scrap of paper with Pat’s number on it like the holy scripture it was. When I got home I lay in bed contemplating my next move, running my trembling fingers over the phone number that she had actually written in her very own hand.
|Asking out a woman in full-bloom was a high stakes proposition.|
I had learned a few things since being rejected by Sally. I was now dating Jolene, a friend of my sister. We had a great and very innocent time together and I had gained confidence in talking to girls and learned that they like guys that are confident, and there was something they liked about bad boys.
But Jolene was just in 8th grade. Pat was a sophomore like me, which meant she was probably older and “A woman in full bloom”. Why would she go out with me? I reasoned that since she went to an all-girls catholic school she was probably hard-up and would jump at the chance to go on a date with any guy. Little did I know that Pat had no trouble in that area. Older guys were asking her out on a regular basis and she had just dumped a senior guy a week earlier because he was too wimpy for her tastes. Had I known this I might have not been so confident that she would go out with me.
But where should I take her on a date? I wasn't even old enough to drive yet. There was no way I was going to "just meet" Pat somewhere, and I did not want to double-date. And then as if a revelation of God had come I decided to take Pat to the Burke High School play, “Bye, Bye, Birdie.” I could drive her to and from Burke High School on my School Permit drivers license. Technically I was only supposed to drive from my house to school via the shortest route, but that was just a technicality. I told my parents about the idea and my mother said NO. My dad having been quite the rebel as a youth AND understanding young love, over-ruled my mother’s objection so I was all set. My dad had taught me that NOTHING was impossible and that I could accomplish anything that I set my mind to.
Now, to ask her out. I rehearsed what I would say, and for privacy in this monumental and holy task, I went to our basement to make the call.
Her dad answered the phone, “Joe’s Bar!” Since this was the first time I called I did not know he was always joking around like that. Shaken, but not deterred, I asked if Pat was there. He said, “Pat senior or Pat junior?” That threw me for a loop, but I stammered, “junior.” She came to the phone and I delivered my rehearsed line. She said YES! I went upstairs, threw myself on the bed and experienced a high that I imagine only hard drug user’s experience.
Story continued in "Falling in Love"