Falling in Love

May 1968. (Note: This story is a continuation of Never Let Anyone Pass a Note to a Girl For You!) I forked over two one dollar bills for the tickets to the play in advance, just to make sure the play would not be sold out. The day before our date I got to work detailing the chariot that would whisk us away to the ball and a whirlwind romance.

My dad loved to buy and sell cars and we had all sorts of fun and exotic cars in our driveway. Unfortunately, at the time all we had was a 1966 Toronado and a 1964 Chevrolet Corvair Spyder Convertible. The Corvair would have to do and I spent a lot of time getting it spotless inside and out. Choosing what to wear was easy - a sport coat and tie - the standard for guys in those days. I was ready.

These were uncharted waters for me because it was my first date with a girl of my own age, an honest to goodness real woman! I should have been nervous or even scared. She was older and went to Marian which was an all-girl catholic high school. I had heard stories about catholic girls. Talk about hitting the jack-pot! Seriously, what more could a guy want? But, I was too excited to be scared.

I knocked on her door. What would the abode of a princess be like? I began to feel a bit un-easy. Her mother answered the door and asked me to come in. She said Pat would be out in a moment. Ah yes, she was keeping me waiting, a time honored feminine ploy. She MUST have the hots for me.

I remember the scene well – Pat’s father was sitting on the couch reading a newspaper with a cigarette in his mouth. I am not sure if he even looked up at me. I noticed Pat had a much younger brother and sister but they were in grade school so I paid little attention to them. I vaguely remember Linda who was considered by most ‘the pretty sister’ being in the room.

Then, Pat quickly entered the family room from the hallway with her purse. Her beauty was overpowering. I tried to stay composed. I imagined my jaw dropping to the floor like a cartoon character. Being just 15, thank god nothing else dropped – or should I say rose (guys – you KNOW what I am talking about). She was wearing blue eye shadow, frosted lipstick, nylons, and heels. She looked so sophisticated to me. She was wearing a low-waisted one piece dress with buttons down the front, dark green on the top and green and white checkered on the bottom.

It was only about a 10 minute drive to school from 88th and Blondo so we really did have not much time to talk. Neither of us remember if we even did talk!

As we walked up the wide stairs to the Burke entry-way you could see the crowd and the lights. The lights were flooding the exterior which allowed me to steal looks at the gorgeous princess I was with. I opened the door for her and I imagined that we were at a royal ball and had been just announced. Everyone stopped talking and wondered who this mystery woman was; she was not some commoner from Burke. I felt good as I saw fellow classmates and teachers there. Now they could all see that I was not some loser without a girlfriend!

Rod, my art teacher at Burke, was taking tickets and said hello to me with a kind smile and I am sure I read into it a nod of approval at my good taste in women.

Pat and I both enjoyed the play very much. It really was well done. After the play I had to take her straight home and we said good night at the door. I would never even think of kissing a girl on the first date. We had been taught that in catholic school. We had also been taught a girl should not wear shiny shoes or sit on a boy’s lap unless there was a phone book between us.

For the next couple of months I continued to date Pat and Jolene, but Pat slowly rose on my weekly top ten list. My top ten list was kept in my journal. The more I spent time with Pat the more drawn to her I was. Pat finally hit the number one spot on my list surpassing cheerleaders and beauty queens such as Roxy, Patti, and Debbie who were a year older.

For many years my family had gone to a fireworks show put on at Fontenelle Park at 24th and Ames. It was a well attended event with food and of course, fireworks. I invited Pat to go with us and my parents were more than happy to have her come along. When we got to the park it was already getting crowded, so we quickly staked out a good place and put our blankets and picnic baskets down.

As the sun was starting to set, Pat and I decided to take a walk. As we weaved hand-in-hand in and out of the islands of blankets, the golden glow of twilight illuminated everything in the colors of a cool 70 ° summer night.

We returned to my families blanket and the fireworks soon started. I “oohed” and “aahed” like the child that I was as the display lit the sky. I kept a sharp eye for signs that they were getting ready for the grand finale, which was my favorite part. The grand finale was to “blow up the island”. There was a small island in the middle of the lake that was packed with firebombs and explosives that literally shook the area when it went off. I saw the men get into the row-boat and I knew the finale would soon come.

As the island exploded I felt the heat and shockwaves against my chest and sighed. The fireworks were spectacular that night, both in the sky and in our hearts.

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