A Story of My Life, Part 7: The First Date
What a thrill it was to be so young! I remember well my very first date.
I was attending Albany State University, and living in my brother Louie's and his wife Hilda's house in Albany, on Orange Street. I got a phone call unexpectedly one Saturday morning. It was Tom Smith (whose name is sufficiently common to protect his anonymity). He asked me for a date! I was never so surprised. He got my phone number from Mom, back home. He and I were friends from high school, but he never evinced any interest in dating me!
It was my very first date. The whole household got into the act. I was so giddy from excitement! I'm not sure what I expected--a handsome prince? But I knew Tom, and it was somewhat reassuring--the guy I knew at least wasn't scary.
I was thrilled to the soles of my shoes. I dashed about my bedroom, looking for something to wear. An Albany friend of ours, Sasha, was the general manager of a Salvation Army Store, and thanks to that store, I now had a wardrobe that fit in with my peers--all jeans and tops and sweaters. You got the best deal there, provided you could put up with the smell of used clothes long enough to pick through the assortment, get them home and launder them.
But I had nothing that would do for a first date! It was such a big deal to me. There were many times in high school I thought I'd die a virgin. I thought I'd never have a date!
Hilda helped me out. We went shopping! Man, what fun! I had a few beans in the piggy bank--I normally didn't spend hardly anything, and was very careful with money. This time, this occasion, I decided to rip loose a little. We found the PERECT little black dress with lacy sleeves and a wide red belt, and then I had to find SHOES! I found the PERFECT shoes to match the red belt. Yep, that's right! Red stiletto heels! I loved 'em. A woman would understand.
Hilda, who had evidentally decided to take me under her wing on such a momentous occasion, offered to do my hair. She worked over my head, pulling on my hair, but I said nothing, because I could see in the mirror that I'd like the results. She did my long dark hair into a French braid, and it looked MARVELOUS! I never felt beautiful before in my life.
Stephanie, my three-going-on-four-year-old niece, was alive with the excitement. She kept popping in and out while Hilda was doing my hair, and she also ran up and down the stairs, shouting, "Aunt Joyce has a date!"
I think our little Steph went out on the street to announce the news. I saw her flash by the front window with Melissa from next door in tow, and I swear I could read her lips, forming the word, "date".
Tom came to pick me up in his car. He drove a neat little Subaru; much better than the crate I drove. I approved of the way he looked, too. He had filled out a little since high school, and developed more muscles. I was still taller than him; the stiletto heels added a couple of inches to my height as well. He was dressed neatly but not gaudily in clean blue jeans, a white shirt, and a brown leather jacket. I thought he looked good. I didn't know quite what he thought of me, in my little black dress with the red belt and red shoes, and my hair neatly coiffed in a French braid. He was quiet while trying to figure out the right exit to take, to get us to Troy, where he was living on the campus while attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
He was a quiet person, back in high school. He never said very much, but he was a very bright young man. I was quiet, in the car, too. I was nervous, all of the sudden, and I didn't want to say the wrong thing, to put him off. So we drove to Troy, which is about and hour away from Albany, in silence, mostly.
Tom took me to a movie theater in Troy. We saw "Cabaret".
It was the very first time I went to a movie. And this movie was such a great movie! Unforgettable. Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey. What a film! I got lost in it, immediately. Never having been to a movie before enhanced that experience for me. Liza Minnelli was great! A terrific dancer, a great entertainer. She registered every impression with her mobile, sensitive face. I didn't much like Joel Grey--that white kabuki makeup with the red lipstick made him look scary to me.
I got engrossed in the story, immediately, though. It was funny; I was half in love with the handsome blond man, until a pivotal scene in the movie. It was some time also, before I realized the movie was set in pre-WWII Germany, with the Nazis in power and WWII imminent. That pivotal scene, when Liza said she "had" the rich man, of whom both she and the handsome blond fellow-tenant were house guests; when the handsome blond man said, "So did I", I fell out of love with him right away. I nearly fell from my theater seat. What a waste! That guy that Liza flirted with so desperately was gay! He was such a nice guy--it didn't surprise me when he and she remained friends.
After the show, Tom asked me, "Do you want to get something to eat?'
I said, "No, I'm not very hungry. Are you?"
The truth was, I was still in thrall to the movie. I didn't want to come back to the real world. So I'm afraid I answered Tom at random, and it put him right off his stride.
There was nothing for him to do but lead us back to his car, and drive us back to Albany. I was silent on the way back home, mentally revelling in the movie I'd just seen.
Poor Tom! Whatever he hoped for from that date never materialized for him. I didn't have any idea what he thought. When he delivered me back to my door, he tried for a kiss, which I unintentionally avoided. That poor guy. He wasn't a bad guy, either. He never called me again.
I opened the front door with my key. It was about 11:30 pm, and I expected the house to be asleep.
Louie was sitting on the living room couch, crying.
I went to my brother and folded him in my arms. I made soothing little noises. I put the kettle on for tea.
Louie finally became composed enough to speak.
Hilda was pregnant. Louie didn't know if the child was his.