The failure on my part in late ’73, early 1974 with Betty set me back a bit. In that story (read me), I had mentioned that I had a girlfriend pretty much in every year previously. Losing Betty caused a little moping and ‘regrouping’ I guess. I went in and out of several 1-2 week relationships with girls I honestly can’t remember the names of today. I think one’s name was Sherri Hicks, but I still can’t remember the name of that girl I had to fight over (read me). There was also the fact in 1974 for a time, the only thing I had on my mind was getting pot and smoking it with a couple of ‘pot friends’. This will be a story in of itself one day.
It was 10th grade, early 1974 and the Vietnam War was finally ending – a time for new beginnings.
I was enrolled in an elective class called Mythology. It was taught by a very old lady, last name of Yokers. The class was arranged into your standard classroom configuration with the chalkboard up front, the teacher’s desk positioned directly in front of the chalkboard and 5-6 rows of desks all facing the teacher’s desk. I was seated in the row closest to the windows, furthest from the doorway, 2nd desk from front.
There she was. Finally, I was in a class with Kim Pike! Kim was the girl I had seen as a 14 year old for the first time (read me) and then had seen at the skating rink a year later (read me). Up until this moment though, I had had no opportunity to introduce myself to her. This was my chance though – I figured now or never!
How would I introduce myself? How was I going to get her into conversation so that she could see my ability to engage in witty repartee and would then of course fall madly in love with me? What was to be my tactic? For the first few days, I tried to make simple eye contact with Kim. Every now and then I’d turn my head and look back and over a few rows where she sat, but all that ever was successful at gaining was a reproach or two, (or three), from Miss Yokers to ‘place our eyes forward’.
But of course! I would catch up to her when the bell rang and would offer to carry her books to the locker for her. I had done this before with other girls I took a fancy to. Sally Stitsinger and I had walked home together several times and like a gentleman, I had carried her heavy load and this had enabled us to know each other a little bit better (and also gave me a sore shoulder). Maybe this would prove to be a valuable tactic in this case?
We all knew the school clocks worked in a synchronous fashion and as the minute hand hit a certain point, all the bells in the entire school would go off together, signaling a mass chaotic chorus of high school kid stomping out of one class and towards our lockers or another class. We had only 4 minutes! Four minutes was the allotted time to make our way, sometimes from one end of the campus to the other end. If your classes were not located in between your locker locations, we often had to carry 2 or 3 classes’ worth of books with us to ensure we were not late for the next class. This was to play to my advantage because Kim had a couple of books – yes!
So by the end of the first week of Mythology class, and as soon as the bell rang, I made my first move. I watched the clock carefully and counted down the minutes from the 2-minute warning. Just as soon as I saw the minute hand reach the target and heard that little warning buzzer-sound inside the clock, like a worker bee heading back to the hive, I was out of my seat! I would quickly navigate my way through the multitude of exiting students and would walk very quickly, around the mass, until I caught up to Kim. She was using the outdoor cut-across the campus to get to the other side. Luckily, this was the same direction I needed to go as well.
“Hi, my name is Rob”. (Weird, tentative look my way). “I’m Kim”. (Yes, I know your name, Kim).
“Can I help you carry your books?” “No, that’s ok”. (Hmm…not going according to plan).
On day 2 of stalking, I repeated my attack. The bell rang, I jumped up and again I hurried around the bustling crowd and caught up with Kim. Again, I offered to ease her book load. I guess she had reconsidered my offer since the previous day because this time she acquiesced and handed over her load. I took it and tucked it on top of my own load, inside the hand opposite the side in between us (after all, I couldn’t let a stack of books get in the way of an accidental shoulder brush).
Kim would allow me to carry her books and each time she did, I would have ready a question or two; something to be used to enable a partial conversation. When we got to the other side of campus and went in through the door, we would separate into opposite directions. At best, I had only 3 minutes to work with each day.
But she didn’t wait for me right away. She didn’t have any immediate interest in me so she made me catch up to her for several days. If I caught her, she would reward me by allowing me to carry her heavy load (was it my imagination or as each day went by, did she have 1 more book? How many classes did this chick have?).
After a number of days like this, maybe 7 or 8, I had gotten in at least a dozen questions about school and family. Over the course of this time we had been able to carry on a few mini conversations and were getting to know each other. Finally, after maybe 2 weeks of chasing her down as a hunter in a fox-hunt, (pun intended), a major victory was scored – unannounced and unwarned, one day Kim was waiting for me directly outside the classroom door of Mythology. Wearing a shy little half-smile, she said, “I thought I’d wait for you”. To her, I’m sure it was not much more than a simple courtesy at the time. To me however, it was as if I were on the high school basketball team, score tied, me at the foul line with 2 seconds left to play…..and I sink the shot! I now knew Kim’s name, she knew mine….and she waited to be with me!
And so, I was on my way to building up the courage for the next challenges – asking for a phone number…and a first real date! Just as Dionysus lusted after his precious Ariadne, I was to find that capturing Kim’s heart would involve a little bit of navigation through the labyrinth of love. (and I bet you thought I didn’t pay attention in my Mythology class)