From a Fairy Tale to a Disaster
My first real date was with a lovely girl named Monika.
Me going out with someone like Monika had been such an unlikely scenario at the beginning of the school year. I was a brand new kid in the public high school, senior year, after spending three years in the all-boys catholic high school. I knew exactly one other kid in the whole school, my friend Cy, who I’d worked with earlier that year at the Eat’N’Park Restaurant. We were both chefs, and we’d both walked off that job together, when the assistant manager had pissed us off by not helping out in the middle of a big dinner rush.
But, as I walked the halls of that school, which was huge, I realized all these kids knew each other from going to school together for years, while I knew but one kid out of thousands. It was very intimidating.
Monika was a gorgeous cheerleader, a real looker, who was very popular and dating the football team’s quarterback. She was at the very top of the social world of that large school. I was barely even in the basement of it. She caught my attention on my second day there, walking past my locker. I couldn’t help but stare as she glided by. I was immediately taken by her, not just her looks, but her whole being. She emanated life, and beauty, and fun! Man, what I wouldn’t give to have five minutes with that girl, just to talk to her!
But, I knew full well the reality of the situation. I was this lowly nobody, fresh from the catholic school, but I might as well have been from another planet. While I knew there was no chance with her, I couldn’t shake her from my head. I really liked her — I liked everything about her.
I had a job as a busboy at the Red Bull Inn, a fine restaurant in Dormont. At Christmas time, they threw a big party in the restaurant for all the busboys, waitresses, bartenders, cooks and kitchen help. There was music, dancing, beer and wine for all. One of my good friends and fellow busboys, Gordie, had a little sister named Micky who worked in the kitchen on the salad prep line. She was a sweet girl and we’d gotten to be pretty good friends, as well.
When I walked into the party, which was in the ballroom in the back of the restaurant, I nearly fell over when I saw who was sitting right beside Micky. It was Monika! As it turned out, they were best friends from grade school, and Micky had brought her to the party. She waved me over and introduced us. She then pulled me aside to tell me that Monika had just broken up with her boyfriend (the quarterback!) and could really use some company. She suggested I ask her to dance.
I could not believe my ears, nor my good fortune! Here at the Red Bull Inn, I was on my turf - full of confidence, not the new kid in a big, intimidating school, but an old hand who was friends with everybody in the joint. It was the ideal setting to be introduced to this knockout of a girl I had been pining over for months. I did ask her to dance. I felt like I was floating on the dance floor with her.
I could do no wrong that evening. As the beer and wine flowed, and the music played, we danced, talked and laughed. She really seemed to be having a good time with me. I was still in a state of shock and wonder at my unbelievable luck! But, it was about to get even better.
When it came time to leave, Micky suggested I give Monika a ride to Micky and Gordie’s house, where Monika was to be staying that night. I was good with that! When we got there, we had the place to ourselves for a good 45 minutes. We sat together on the sofa in the living room, and before I knew it, we were making out (kissing). She was totally into it, in fact she had kind of started it. I wouldn’t have been so bold as to try to kiss her, unless she really wanted me to. This went on for most of the time we were sitting there, until the others arrived. Life was, suddenly, beyond good!
Before I left, I asked her if she’d like to go out sometime. She said “I definitely would!” I drove home on a cloud. Never had I ever had such a perfect night, in all my life.
The date itself turned out to be a whole different story.
I couldn’t get a car to take her out in. We had agreed to go to a concert in the city — some new group with a funny name that had just scored their first hit, a song called “I’m 18”. When I gave her the bad news that I didn’t have a car for the date, she suggested taking the trolley. She lived right near the Mt. Washington trolley stop, and I could pick her up there. It wasn’t my idea of a romantic date, but I didn’t feel like I had much of a choice. It went down hill from there.
I was very nervous, my confidence not nearly as strong as when I’d been on “my turf”. I felt like a real schmuck, taking her on a date on a trolley. Who does that?
The show itself was wild — Alice Cooper, Bloodrock, and the J.Geils Band.
I was really into the music and the theatrics on stage. She didn’t seem to be, so much. She was a lot straighter than I was. I was so nervous, I was smoking up a storm. I felt like I had to decide, at one point, about being good company to her on this date, or to just let myself go and rock out to the music. I just let go and rocked out.
The ride home on the trolley was very strange.
I really felt like I’d blown this date with this girl I had wanted to be with from the first time I saw her. She was very nice to me the whole time, but I could tell that the magic of that first night just wasn’t there. My rattled nerves, and impulsive acting out to the music instead of being a proper date, made me feel really awful, like I had done everything wrong on the date.
I was sure, as I dropped her off at her stop, that it was a one-and-done deal. It was, but mainly because I was so embarrassed, I avoided her and never called her again. Instead, I went home and called my friend Cy up, and said, “Hey, man, let’s get wasted”. He wanted to hear all about my date, but I just wanted to drink, get high, and forget all about it. That’s what we did. I was back in my comfort zone, and decided that maybe I wasn’t ready for the pressures of dating a popular girl at school.