Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Glittering illusions

My first date was with six women.

Oh, not really. Six girls happened to be in the car for much of the night. I just tagged along.

I bring this up because I read a charming little tale written by my late, great professor Dr. Robert Drake about his character Eddie Williams' first date. I have no way of knowing, but I suspect the story was semi-autobiographical. Maybe not even semi.

He described the awkwardness, the feeling that life had changed forever and, for him, his ambiguous feelings about it all. (That story is collected in a wonderfully-titled book called "Survivors and Others." You can find it on Google Books.)

Anyway, my first date was a bit better than Eddie's. I never will forget getting the news while standing in the Halls High parking lot after school.

"Some girls want to take you out Friday night."

Forgive the language, but at the time, I could think of only one response.

"Shit."

This was heady stuff for a sophomore. These girls were upperclassmen!

Two picked me up. I had, er, admired one of them for months and months. I guess she finally heard about it. Or picked it up. I tend to be an open book.

So off we went, first to East Towne, to see a film called "Blink." Best I remember it was a murder mystery. I distinctly remember being amazed I was sitting there between these incredibly attractive young women.

From there, it was off to dinner at Ruby Tuesday. A host of people, probably 12 or 13, showed up. Then the six of us went driving around. Seems like one place we landed was called The End of the World. It was out off Hill Road somewhere. I tried to find it a few years later and got lost. Like I said, I was floating in a dream. Later, I was so excited, I never made it over to my dad's house. I ended up staying at home and forgot to call.

But I have to tell you about the two girls who picked me up. And the lesson I later learned.

One of them was blond, tall and striking, friendly, fun. The other was raven-haired, beautiful, perfect. Or so I thought.

We all went out a few more times that spring. I kept thinking it would end and, of course, it did. The reverse of Sinatra's shot down in April, riding high in May.

I fell deeply and madly in love with that dark-headed girl with the perfect teeth. On my end it lasted until she married. Perhaps afterward. On her end? Well, I don't know. She confused me for about four years.

I learned something, though. Perhaps a valuable lesson.

The blond-haired girl was beautiful in all the ways that matter. Not just physically. She possessed a magnetic personality, an honest heart and a fun-loving attitude. She was outgoing. She was fun. Best of all, she liked me.

But, I was smitten with Perfect Teeth, and for years thought she walked on water. Time and an incredible series of circumstances proved me wrong.

I've often thought that I wasted a lot of years chasing something that was never there, trying hard to re-create what had yet to be created. I had been smitten, lured by those bright blue eyes and the fantasy that she walked on water. It became my first heartbreak.

But, in a strange way, I'm grateful for it. My English teacher Sharon McNeeley always taught me not to write cliches, but in this case it is an apt descriptor, because Perfect Teeth taught me my first truth about affairs of the heart.

Everything that glitters is not gold.

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