“Tom had the audacity to call me for a date within the week and I had the absence of judgment to accept.”
Three Strikes But Still in the Game
As I remember, it was the summer after my sixteenth birthday and before my junior year of high school. A boy, Tom, I had occasionally seen in the neighborhood and who once escorted me home (because of his mother’s insistence) from a mutual friend’s party, plowed me over as he barreled around the corner while on a cross-country training run. Was the look on his face annoyance or intrigue? Did he regret he bumped into me or was he hoping to bump into me again? He was not particularly courteous. Strike one!
Three weeks later, I was finalizing plans to attend the St. Peter’s High school dance. Attending an all-girls high school made meeting boys difficult. High School dances sponsored by an all-boys school were big deals. My friend’s mom had a last-minute conflict and was not able to drive us to the dance as first planned. “Would it be okay with your mom if my neighbor drives us? He just got his license to drive yesterday and is going to the dance himself,” asked my friend. What mom would say, “yes” to this? My mom did. Seven teenagers piled into a standard 1966 Rambler with an inexperienced driver at the wheel. You guessed it, Tom. Since his training was in an automatic student-driver vehicle, we endured more jerks and bumps during that journey than you would on a Six Flags adventure ride. Did he recognize me? He asked me to dance to the last slow song of the evening. Did it take him that long to work up the courage or was I a last-ditch effort after all others failed? After a switch in drivers and passenger configuration for the epic journey home in the Rambler that put Tom’s best friend, Joe, behind the wheel and me upon the lap of Tom, I decided he was interested in me.
A few minutes into the ride, we had to make an emergency roadside stop because I had given Tom a leg cramp and was going to ruin his chances to place in the next-day cross country meet!Strike Two!
Tom had the audacity to call me for a date within the week and I had the absence of judgment to accept. Had the call and the question taken me so off guard that I blurted the wrong words or did I doubt my assessment of our awkward encounters and thought to give him another chance?
It was now the first weeks of October, which meant our home was decked out for Halloween. A tradition in my family is to construct a witch to sit on a rocker on the porch. My grandmother and I made it our goal to make our creation life-size and believable. We stuffed pieces of chalk in the fingers of long black gloves to make her hands, stuffed newspaper and plastic bags in the sleeves and bodice of a long black flowing dress, shoved high black boots on the ends of legs made from paper tubes in old stockings, and topped the figure with a scary mask, wig, and hat. We did our job well it turns out. I know this because when Tom came for me on our first-official-date night he announced that he thought I had been waiting for him on the porch. Strike three!
Tom and I began dating in 1967, married in 1973, raised four wonderful boys, and welcomed four precious grandchildren into the world. We are so grateful that we did not let first impressions, awkwardness, or petty disagreements prevent us from continuing the bumpy journey with starts and stops that began all those years ago in his Rambler.