This is the exciting conclusion to last week’s introductory story. (read me)
Dinner; all the family was there; Mom (Gerri), Dad (Mel), brothers Scott and Kevin and sister Traci. I’m not quite sure how Kim prepped her siblings, but they were all kinda’ treating me sort of like Bright Eyes from the Planet of the Apes. I felt a bit like I was in a cage and was supposed to do something, perhaps entertain. It was fun being the center of attention, I guess.
Mel sat at the head of the table and they gave me the opposite head. Maybe it was my long hair at the time, but I was getting a weird vibe from Kim’s parents – like either they didn’t like me or perhaps thought I wasn’t good enough for Kim. Understandable – what long haired boy is good enough for our daughters, especially our oldest, our first baby? In the style of dinnertime at the Bunkers’, everyone was getting their plates quickly filled with spaghetti, sauce, Italian garlic bread and salads. After a short bit of time, someone asked for the Parmesan cheese to be passed. Only it wasn’t pronounced ‘par-meh-zhan’; it was pronounced ‘par-mee-zien’ cheese. When I heard it asked for, I thought to myself ‘hmm, that sounds good. I think I’ll have some par-mee-zien cheese on my spaghetti too! After all, when in Rome…and then I saw it. I saw the familiar big green can of Kraft Parmesan cheese being picked up and passed.
That’s when it hit me – well of course, we all live in Hamilton (aka Hamiltucky) where we all have names for things found nowhere else on the planet.
It’s the city that gained fame by trying to add an exclamation point (!) to its name in 1986. It was approved by their city council by a 5-1 vote. What I want to know is – why wasn’t that one person who thought that was a dumb idea voted Mayor for Life! (Exclamation Point!)
If we Hamiltuckians want to drink a soda, we ask for a pop. If we want a green bell pepper, we ask for a mango. We play a game similar to euchre called pitch and if we are particularly angry at you, we might threaten to “go Ruppert on you” (read if you like the titillating hidden stories). The only reason we called it par-meh-zhan cheese in my house was because Joe was Italian. So when asked if I wanted some par-mee-zien cheese, I simply said ‘yes, please’! I love par-mee-zien cheese on spaghetti!
After dinner, we went back downstairs to hang out and watch some more movies. I was having a good time and I could sense Kim was too. After awhile, Kim and I were left alone in the basement. I don’t remember if Kim sent her brothers and sisters upstairs or if they did it on their own. Likely Kim pulled the big sister rank on them with the unspoken threat of sitting on their chests and hitting them like a helicopter if they didn’t give her some private time. We were sitting together on the basement couch. For those of you who have finished basements, you know ‘the couch’ because it used to be your living room couch. When your parents decided to finish your basement, they got the new living room furniture and moved your favorite couch to the basement TV room.
I didn’t waste any time – I didn’t know if I was going to get another chance to get a kiss. I made the first move but Kim was quick to reciprocate. One thing I’ll confess is that we were lucky in that the chemistry felt strong from the beginning and has never let up (TMI?). This was our first ‘laying on the couch together, necking session’. Because I was so smitten with Kim, I still remember this quite well. I remember well how we hugged, the smallness and softness of her hands in mine, that tiny, constant little bead of perspiration on her forehead….and the kissing – I remember the kissing.
We were PG-Rated. Like all teenage boys, I was anxious to get to the R-rating, but I knew enough then to know that it was too early. I didn’t want to blow this. As it turned out, it didn’t matter if I wanted to attend the R-rated movie or not because soon after being left alone, we heard a little snickering. Kim got up quickly from the couch and ran around the corner to find her baby brother Kevin hiding at the bottom of the stairs, playing the part of the spy in our PG movie. Well, that took us back immediately to G. Parents – if you want to keep your teenagers in the G movie, simply release your younger kids to spy on them, or go rent your neighbor’s kids for the job.
Oh well, more movies it is. Kim’s mom loves popcorn; I think it’s her favorite snack, but who doesn’t? Gerri had made some popcorn for us. We smelled it long before it was fully popped. Popcorn is one of those foods whose cooked smell is so enticing when cooked in the right manner; and such a turnoff when burned.
All of you reading this part right now, pause and think briefly about yummy cooked popcorn. Now do the same for popcorn that is burned. The smells are memorized, aren’t they. What memory pops up when you think of popcorn? For me, it’s this night. I also have another fond memory of white popcorn kernels I bought years ago while working at Deuscher Foundry. Do you know that uncooked popcorn kernels will stay good for years and years? According to research at University of Nebraska, kernels can be kept for 2 years. I finally used up the last of my Deuscher popcorn a couple of years ago – I ate from it for over 20 years. I kept them in a plastic bowl with a tight lid and it was delicious until the end. Take that University of Nebraska!
Popcorn bowls in one hand, root beers in the other, (Kim’s favorite drink as a teenager), we made our way back to the basement to finish off the movies and the evening.
After we got downstairs, Kim declared – hey, I was going to show you how the microwave works, c’mon. We quickly ran up the steps together to the kitchen and I watched as Kim popped open the fridge and got out a piece of bologna, some cheese and a couple of pieces of bread. She put them on a plate, stuck the plate into the contraption and within 20 seconds of microwave magic, out popped a piping hot bologna and cheese sandwich! WHOA, NOW THIS IS COOL! I was very amazed (luckily I’m easily entertained).
Soon it was time to leave. Dinner was delicious, but the truth is that they could have served roasted pine cones, I didn’t care; I was at the house of the little girl I experienced the thunderbolt from just a couple of years earlier (read me). What was happening, how did I get here? Is there such a thing as destiny and love at first sight? I’m a big boy now, much older, much more in tune with myself and my feelings so I don’t mind admitting to everyone reading this that I was flat out, head over heels smitten with a capital S! I didn’t know Kim well enough at this point to fairly say that I was in love, but call it lust, call it chemical attraction, call it nature, call it a crush. Whatever it was, all I knew was that I was thrilled to be with Kim and I wanted to be with her much more. Speaking for myself, it felt right. I had found who I was supposed to be with and I wasn’t going to let her go. Little did I know that I would soon be tested. (Stay tuned)