The other day I was listening to my car radio and heard Carole King’s song, “It’s Too Late”. After it was over I kept wondering – where is Sugarloaf’s Green Eyed Lady? All night I was mentally singing to myself It’s too Late which then got followed up in my mind by Green Eyed Lady. So, I got to thinking about it and I realized that anytime I hear Carole’s song, I just automatically expect to hear the Sugarloaf song immediately afterwards. Why was that?
I gave it some serious thought and came to the conclusion that it’s connected to a vivid childhood memory of love lost. My summer girlfriend of 1971 when I was 13 was Diane Mathews. In hindsight, Diane was my first ‘long-term relationship’. Diane was a year older than I and attended St. Peters Catholic school, whereas I attended public schools. She was cool and she was a good athlete. She became the mold for my perfect woman, the one who I eventually fell in love with and married.
My city block had an amazing number of children. In my baseball-playing-age-range there were about 30! We lived a block away from St. Peters which was a Catholic church and school. The larger Catholic families helped to explain the number of children, but not all of us were Catholic (or perhaps we were the founders of ‘Unplanned’ Parenthood). My family, for example, was a Brady Bunch style family of 9 kids. Within our age range though, almost all of us were boys. The predominant number of girls was either older or younger. Diane and Jo Ann were the exceptions, both being one year older than I. Jo lived next door to me and Diane lived across the alley and down three houses.Diane and my relationship began one night as a result of playing Spin the Bottle. We were teenagers, we were all close to each other and we were curious about sex, each other and the world beyond The Alley. Before our back porch became enclosed, we used to have an outdoor storage room attached to the house. I don’t recall whose idea it was, but I think it was Jo Ann’s. About 5 of us squished inside the storage room, complete with dust and spiders. Three boys and two girls – Jo, Diane, Me, Tommy and Jeff are who I seem to remember.
We kept spinning the bottle until each of us had kissed each other a few times. I remember Tommy was complaining because Diane was his sister and so he was feeling cheated because we each had two girls to kiss and he only had one. It was funny because at some point I remember Diane telling him to stop whining and that he could kiss her. We laughed at that, but they went ahead and kissed – just that once. They both agreed that it felt too weird. We all had a good chuckle over that.
What I remember most about that night was how well Diane and I felt kissing each other. It was the first time in my life where I recall thinking – whoa! So ‘this’ is what it’s like to really kiss a girl! I was to have that same reaction the very first time I kissed Kim, (now my wife), several years later. Both of those kisses are a great memory, but this story is about Diane. After that night, Diane and I were an item, peas and carrots, sausage and eggs – we were together constantly that summer.
Spin the Bottle had occurred at the beginning of summer so our little summer fling was to last the entire duration. It was a great summer, the best so far. We played a lot of spin the bottle that summer, along with all the other games we always played. I really liked spending time with Diane. She had a good sense of humor, she laughed at all my stupid comments, she was a good baseball player, (not so good in basketball), and a great kisser. We would play ball together in the park with the rest of The Alley and when it was all over, we’d hold hands during the walk down the alley back to our houses. No one teased us and no one complained. I guess we considered it to be normal Alley Evolution.Like a lot of girls, Diane had put on her height during her 13th and 14th years. She was maybe 3 inches taller than I was that year but my being shorter didn’t seem to bother her. One of our favorite activities was to sneak away to the inside of her garage where we would neck for minutes and minutes at a time. We both must have enjoyed that because we sneaked away a lot! (And ok, the time her mom drove into the opened garage and caught us sucking face was not so fun). We gave each other our very first hickeys (not in front of her mom though). Putting a hickey on someone is easy and fun. Taking them off is not so easy so if you find yourself in need of hickey removal, here is the Wikihow link (note I recommend jumping to option 6 – just wear a turtleneck):
We were both too young for anything much more serious than love bites – I never attempted to steal home and wouldn’t have even known how to steal home at the time. I was definitely making notes though as I rounded a few bases. I distinctly remember thinking to myself – this is the kind of girl that I would like to marry one day. I wanted to be with a girl (woman) who liked sports. I really wanted to avoid divorce, to stay married forever, and I thought it would be a good idea to be with someone who I could actually “play together with”. Maybe playing together would help us have fun with each other? Besides, how much fun would it be to be married to someone you could play ball with during the day and then give love bites to at night! (I wonder if gays have this exact same thought?)
Funny comic diversion from Trailer Park Boys – Ricky ‘maybe I’m gay’
I was only 13 but my parents had gone through a divorce and even then, staying married and not putting my kids through a divorce was going to be a very, very important life goal for me. I can honestly say today that Diane Mathews established the mold for me of the type of girl I wanted to have – and I did later find that very type of girl!
When school started in the Fall, Diane went back to St. Pete’s Catholic school and I to the public junior high, (Wilson Jr. HS). She was in 8th grade and I in 7th. Soon, Diane started ‘liking’ someone at St. Pete’s and had to deliver the bad news to me that she was breaking up with me. Teenage breakups are so devastating that I can still remember the guy’s name, (Gary Davish), yet I never even ever met him.
I can still vividly remember a bunch of us kids hanging out in our backyard the day Diane delivered the crushing blow to me. We had the radio on as we were all sitting on our back porch. The song that had come on was Carole King’s ‘It’s too Late’ which then was immediately followed by Sugarloaf’s Green Eyed Lady without a commercial break. I am extremely grateful she did not happen to choose the summer hit of the following year – Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road. I much rather enjoy remembering Diane to Carole than a dead skunk (although now as I type I am wondering what thought will cross my mind each time I see a dead critter on the highway).I was hurt. I really loved Diane and didn’t want us to be over – I missed her for a very long time. Diane was the first little girl I had said I love you to. I hadn’t realized it until now as I was writing this story, but I did not say I love you again to another girl until I dated Kim at the age of 16, (Kim is my wife).
This is not a sad or bittersweet story, but a happy one, one I am very happy to write about. 1971 was a great summer for me. It was my thirteenth year and was a very impressionable one for me in many ways. Most important for me that year was that I learned what type of girl I wanted to be with. I wanted to be with someone who generated heat when we kissed. I wanted to be with someone I could play catch with, someone who not only laughed at my jokes but made me laugh too. Diane was all of these things for me; she established the standard I wanted a wife to fill. How many people get to learn what type of person they want to spend eternity with when they’re only 13? For those of you reading this and are showing interest in these ‘growing up’ stories – yes, there will be a number of Kim stories eventually hitting the blog press.
They really should put these two songs together in Youtube!