I was bitten by the love bug at age seven. Her name was Kathy Mundell and came in the package of a cute, gangly, dark haired, brown eyed beauty.
However, that wasn’t my first impression of her. After all, I was seven and like most young boys would rather be off catching tad poles then hanging out with some yucky little, freckle faced girl.
Dad was a career Air Force man and in 1961 we were living in Japan when I first met Kathy. Most kids raised in a military family get used to friends moving away. Therefore, it was no surprise when the family living in the quarters at the far end of our housing unit suddenly moved out. But it bothered me. Not so much they moved, because they hadn’t been the friendliest people I’d ever met. It bothered me because it meant there would be even fewer kids to play with. Couples with children on our block were becoming scarce.
One day coming home from school there was a moving van pulling up next to the empty house. “That’s great”, I thought. “Maybe they’ll have some kids.” After putting my school books up I milled around outside watching as the movers unloaded the new family’s belongings. They unloaded a pair of bikes. This was proof positive there were kids! But wait, these were girls’ bikes. Rats! Didn’t they have any boys? I went back inside feeling dejected.
The next day was a bright, sunny Saturday, which meant no school. I went outside to play but found the area devoid of anyone to engage in recreation. I looked at the new neighbors’ house and wondered if there was a chance there might be any male children hiding inside. There was only one way to find out. Go and ask.
Marching up to their door I spotted a small pair of brown eyes peeking through the edge of the window curtains. Disgusted, I mused that wasn’t the actions of any boy! Mustering up my courage I knocked on the door. It was promptly answered by the woman of the house. “Excuse me Mam, could your kids come out and play?” (My folks raised us to say sir and mam.) She said she would send them right out.
Out they came, two girls, Kathy and her younger sister, Karen. That’s about the last thing I remember about being a normal, happy-go-lucky kid. Kathy came straight up, looked into my eyes and introduced herself. She had shiny, straight dark brown hair and eyes to match. She took my hand and suggested I show them around. Nothing shy about this Gal! She was straight forward, honest and downright friendly. Did I mention she was also pretty? It’s funny how I hadn’t noticed that right off.
Long story short, Kathy and I became fast friends, doing everything together. We walked to school, studied and played together. Not rough house boy games, but board games and such we both could enjoy. Then one evening she kissed me good night. No sir...no more tad pole catching for this kid!
Of course, my other brothers had a lot of fun with this situation. They would always sneak up and invade our privacy any chance they could. They also teased me constantly about being in love…maybe that’s a funny thing to be at seven. But then it dawned on me I was. Or at least the closest thing a seven year old could come to it. Life was good.
However, all good things must come to an end so they say. It happened one afternoon when I discovered my older brother Tom, playing with her out in the front yard with a bunch of other kids But I didn’t notice the other kids, only Kathy hanging off him and laughing…just having a great time. My heart broke into a thousand pieces. I had never felt this kind of pain before. Why did it hurt so much?
Trying to be manly I fought back the tears and went inside trying to avoid letting anyone see me in that condition. But I ran straight into Dad who was watching a football game and he instinctively knew right away something was very wrong. First, he went to the window to see what the situation out there was that had upset me so much. It took no time for him to assess the situation.
Dad held me gently for a minute then the words tumbled unintelligibly from my mouth, followed by a torrent of tears. He thought for a moment of how to handle this situation. You know how dads are…they can fix anything at that age.
He sat me in his chair, walked to the refrigerator, got a beer and two glasses then sat down across from me.”Now let’s talk about this thing man to man.”, he said authoritatively while pouring a little of the beer into my glass. Oddly enough I did feel more like a man. “You can’t just let your brother go and steal your girl like that”, he said matter of factly. “You’re going to have to go back out there and fight for her.” I wasn’t too keen on this idea since my brother, being older and bigger than me, had always been able to “clean my clock”. Dad insisted that was the only way, explaining it didn’t matter if I lost the fight or not. It was the principal of the thing. And even if I did lose, Kathy would be impressed I’d be willing to fight for her. I don’t know what book he got that sage information from, but he should’ve thrown it out. But being only seven, what did I know?
So, out to the battlefield I went, a knight in shining armor, going to win his lady back. I confidently called the enemy out and confronted him with his options. I wasn’t worried, I knew Judo. Unfortunately, Tom is the one who taught me. The next thing I knew I was flat on my back with Tom sitting on my chest and Kathy watching in dismay. I wasn’t hurt, just humiliated.
Kathy never had anything to do with either of us again. It seems, contrary to what Dad had said, some women aren’t impressed with shows of violence. We had a lot to learn. Too bad they don’t come with a manual. But it turned out Tom had no interest in Kathy and they actually had just been playing.
However, the pattern of Tom always getting my girl was set for life. It seems every girl I brought home left me for him. He was a little more handsome I guess, and a sharp dresser. He was just a cooler dude all around.
Yes, I had a lot to learn about women.
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