Are you married? Maybe you’re currently dating. Do they still call it dating? Back when I was a kid, we called it “liking” someone. If you liked someone well enough, you asked them to “go steady”. If you went steady, you each traded something important and gave it to the other person to wear and to publicize that you each were spoken for. In the 50’s it was a school jacket or a pin. In my day, it was an ID bracelet in Jr High, (read me), then class rings in high school. In fact, going steady was often the whole reason for getting a class ring for a lot of us. Today, the kids pronounce they are “married” as a Facebook status.
Liking someone, necking, going steady, married in Facebook….in my day, they all pale in comparison to the importance of the big night when we met the parents. Today the kids don’t bring home their boyfriends and girlfriends until they want the acceptance of their parents (does this still happen?). My boys have had complete relationships from beginning to end without our ever getting to meet the lucky girl. Back when I was a kid though, meeting the parents was all a natural part of having a relationship.
In The First Date (read me) I shared the story of the first time Kim and I got to interact together outside of high school. That was the same night I got my first kiss from Kim. By the time Kim and I had our first date, we had walked the halls together everyday for at least a month. Kids at school were beginning to see us together, but we were not yet steadies; there was no smooching in the halls in between classes yet.
For our next official outing, Kim had invited me over for dinner at her house. The plan was to come over, have some dinner and then go down to watch TV in the finished basement where the kids hung out at night. It was the middle of Spring, 1974. Kim and I had just had our first date the week before and we had shared our first kiss. I was excited and nervous about meeting the parents – I didn’t know what to expect that night, but it was to be a night of several new findings and experiences.
For my first new experience, Kim and I hopped into the back seat of her Mom’s big Chrysler and were chauffeured over to the Lane Public Library. I want to say the car was either a LeBaron or a New Yorker or maybe even a 5th Avenue (a street so important they named a candy bar after it). I don’t check most of these facts with my wife when I’m writing because I like the stories to be a surprise. So I might be wrong on the model. What I remember very well though is that it was a very nice car, much nicer than what I was used to driving in; electric windows, electric locks and it drove like a boat on the water (very calm seas).
Although the big Chrysler was a cool experience, it wasn’t the new experience that I was referring to – that was to come at the library. We actually went to the library to get a bunch of movies. VHS had not yet been invented, these were either 8mm or 16mm (pretty sure it was 8). We didn’t have a movie projector so I didn’t have a clue that you could actually go to the library and rent movies! Cool! I seem to recall Kim’s little brother Kevin being with us at the library because I have this vague memory of his helping to pick out the movies. We gathered up the limit and headed over to the checkout line.
(Below is a short video of Kim’s first birthday – notice even at 1 she hated the lights)
Here’s my sometimes favorite part of writing these little stories – the italicized memory sidebar that just pops into my mind, unannounced and totally afore forgotten about. My favorite childhood library memory involves a book that my friend Timmy pointed out to me one day. It was a science fiction novella collection, a blue hardback tucked up in the adult science fiction section, up the old spiral staircase, back in a hidden corner. Why was this book so special? Because I was only 12 or 13 years old and we had found a “dirty book” at the public library. Why was it dirty? Because it must have used the word ‘fuck’ about a hundred times. Nothing makes a twelve year old feel older than being able to read about sex…no less in a public library! The story was set in the future and it involved a talking dog named Blood. Perhaps the dog used telepathy, but the dog’s special talent was finding women for the young man who was the primary character. It’s a goofy theme as I think about it today, but extremely titillating for a 12 year old – Pulitzer Prize material. The story’s name? “A Boy and His Dog”. It has a shocking ending so I won’t spoil it for you in case your curiosity is killing you. Be warned though – you won’t like the ending.
With movies in hand, we all made our way back out to the boat for the short ride home. Once home, we kids headed down to the basement while Kim’s mom tended to making dinner. The Pikes had a movie projector and a screen. We watched a couple of short cartoons and then the infamous home movies popped out! Yes, on my very first visit to the Pike household, I got to see my one day bride-to-be as a 3 year old. I have a very strong image of all the kids dressed in their Easter best, walking up to the camera, (no doubt at Mom & Dad’s direction), each smiling, Kim shielding her eyes (her eyes are still sensitive to bright lights).
Dinner was soon called and we kids all made our way up the steps. In the kitchen was where I was to record my next two fun memories. The first had to do with a new invention – the microwave oven. I had to go read up in Wikipedia when and how the microwave was invented. I learned that, like lots of inventions, it was by accident and occurred in the late 40’s. They began to appear in kitchens in the late 60’s. I had never heard of them however. I saw a contraption sitting on a counter as I made my way to the table and so I asked ‘what’s that’. Gerri, (Kim’s mom), replied – well that’s the microwave oven. What is a microwave oven? It heats food? Huh? Kim said something like, oh this is cool, let me show you. We were getting ready to sit down to a big spaghetti dinner so mom ended the debating by telling Kim she could show me after dinner.
And cue the drama music – Tune in next week to Part 2 for the exciting conclusion