It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. This famous literary opening well describes the summer following my getting caught in my girlfriend’s bedroom by her mother. Let me back up a tad in case you are a visitor, new to my story blog site. One of the multi-chapter stories embedded within my blog is the telling of my wife’s and mine early days together, beginning with our meeting in junior high through to getting married. These can be found by clicking on the “Kim Saga” Category. In the last story, (link here), I had gotten caught in “Sheila’s” bedroom by her mother. We pick up now from that point.
The very next day, Sheila called me on the phone. She had some news to share; we were now banned from seeing each other. There was no timeline, not even a hint of how long this punishment was to last. It was the summer of 1975. Sheila had a car, but I did not yet so there would be no Frisch’s hot fudge cakes together, no movies together at the Court Theater and certainly no clandestine meetings over the summer.
That summer was the best of times and it was the worst of times for me. It was the best for hanging out with friends like Terry, (from this story), and Joe (from this story). With Terry, we’d maybe hang out at the roller rink, (where occasionally Sheila would be as well), and then spend the night and weekend at his place in the country. After chores were done, (mostly caring for the horse or cutting grass), we had freedom to do as we wish. This meant riding his Honda 100 motorcycle or driving his old VW Beetle around one of the back fields or taking a couple of horses out for a ride. I learned to ride a motorcycle before I drove and occasionally today when I’m riding, I still catch myself recalling flying down the field in that little Honda, seeing if we could get it up to 60. I loved those weekends and the activities helped keep my mind off of missing my girlfriend.
If I was with Joe and ‘the alley gang’, it could mean playing a lot of basketball at the YMCA, (indoors if downtown and outdoors if at the West Y), hanging out playing pitch (link here) or some outdoor activity like Purse (fun story link here). There was this one night however….after several weeks of no contact with Sheila, I just wanted to get a note, a love letter I suppose, into her hands. So while spending the night at Joe’s house, he offered to drive me over to her place. The plan was to park on the other side of the creek that ran next to their house and just wait for me. That was in the time before the road went over the creek. All that existed was a footbridge, perfect for our needs.
So maybe about 1 AM, we drove over and Joe coasted down the hill, cutting his lights at the last moment so as not to arouse anyone from their sleep. I left the car, being quiet with the door and walked across the footbridge. No lights were on. Good, no falling asleep with Johnny Carson tonight. I crept around the front of the house and then on the right side, where Sheila’s bedroom was located. I then quietly tapped on the window a few times. Even though this wasn’t planned, Sheila was still conditioned to wake at my tap. It didn’t hurt to have a little black poodle in bed with her, one who would certainly hear my tapping before anyone else. (Ah, Even today as I’m writing this, I can still hear “Misty” chomping away on Sheila’s chewing gum which she had taken out of her mouth and placed on the bed stand where Misty almost always found it – taken out for smooching of course).
As had become our routine, I tapped, Misty woke up Sheila and then Sheila came to the window to turn the lever that opened the window. Something was wrong this time though, the window was not budging. She looked at me through the window and mouthed the words, “it won’t open”. So I felt on my side of the window and I discovered the reason why the lever wasn’t doing what it was built to do. Something was blocking the window. That ‘something’ just happened to be what felt like a dozen or so tiny nails. Yup, her Daddy had nailed the window shut! Were we not trustworthy? Don’t answer that Reader, it was rhetorical.
Sure enough, Juliet’s window had been nailed shut, now what? Those damn Capulets, always butting in on romance, the nerve! Luckily, there was a solution. Sheila’s always been clever, very quick on her feet. She had another window, one located higher above her bed. It was one of those small rectangular windows used only for air circulation. She climbed on her bed and removed her clothes. Ok, so she didn’t really do that – that’s my imaginative dirty side. No, she removed the small screen so that I could throw my note up to her. That was it really. We whispered a couple of I Love You’s and I scurried into the night, back to my buddy Joe. Mission accomplished. It takes more than a few nails to keep kids apart from each other.
Other than getting to spend a couple of hours together at the skating rink and a few phone calls snuck in here and there, that was pretty much the only contact we had over the summer. For that reason, it was the worst of times for me (wow, referencing Shakespeare and Dickens in the same story – you readers are really getting a taste of culture in this one). Seriously though, when I allowed myself to be, I was miserably lonely that summer, missing my girl. I really loved that girl and felt we were meant to be together. I don’t think she felt that at first like I did. Maybe it’s more true to say that I realized our love before she did – I think she tried to deny it with herself a bit…just my opinion.
But anyway, yes I really missed her. And I hated her mom for keeping us apart. Readers listen up – if something like this happens with your children, be smart and don’t keep them apart. Like Romeo and Juliet, it only strengthens their resolve. Teenagers love to prove that they are strong against adult or organized power. Banning us from seeing each other made us yearn for each other. At night, I would lay in bed with my thoughts, plotting how we would one day be together. We’d show you!
As a side note on this topic, there was talk of Sheila even moving out west to San Jose, CA to live with her grandma for college as a means of keeping us apart. What did I do? Why of course I looked into Marine Corps ROTC programs, offered in San Jose wouldn’t ya know. I even went through the routines of application and a Marine physical. Mentioned in my Stratego story (link), I’ve always tried to have a plan.
After a month or more, I was beginning to get desperate. These parents of Sheila’s were hellbent on trying to get Kim, (Oops, I mean Sheila), to forget about me. They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder. This is true. It also strengthens your resolve. I decided enough time had gone by that perhaps an ‘adult’ approach might work. On occasion, I volunteered to do odd jobs, yard work at the mother’s house of a friend of my step father. His name was Joe Cain, a mammoth of a man standing maybe 6’6 and weighing maybe 300. His mother actually lived very close to one of my younger girlfriends, (Barbie), written about in this story (link). I want to say she lived right across the street, but I’m a little fuzzy on that part.
Anyway, I was all alone there. Joe’s mom was not home. Joe had given me the house key and instructions on what needed doing. Remember kids, these were the days before cell phones. There was no texting or sneaking away for a private call. If we spoke to each other on the phone, it had to be her calling me and the parents needed to be away. Needless to say, we didn’t get very many opportunities, but we managed here and there as kids will do. I decided though that my being alone with a telephone and no prying ears was a perfect opportunity to take a new tactic; I would call Sheila’s mom and try to reason with her. Sheila tried to tell me it wouldn’t work, but I had to try.
It took me several minutes to build up my courage and to figure out what to say. I called and Sheila answered the phone. I told her that I wanted to talk to her mom. She said, “are you sure?” Yes, I’m sure, let me speak to your mom. I naturally don’t recall precisely what all I said, but in general I tried to sound as adult as I could by apologizing, admitting my guilt and promising of course to never attempt anything like that again, (besides the damn window is nailed shut). She was having none of it though. They had convinced themselves that I was no good and certainly not the person who their daughter should be dating. These words were not spoken of course. What was said was that she didn’t know how long I was to be prevented from seeing Sheila. I got nowhere. I remember actually begging. That’s how taken I was with Sheila. Ultimately, her mom ended the conversation by telling me she was hanging up the phone and telling me that I should not call back.
Want to know something, Reader? We should probably thank her mom. Who knows what direction fate would have pointed us in if Sheila’s parents had not banned us from seeing each other? Think about it. When someone tries to tell you what to say, how to think or who to love, what is our normal reaction? We become determined, don’t we. It’s in our upbringing and our culture. Trying to prevent two love struck kids from seeing each other is probably the best way to ensure they end up together. I mean, sure I loved Sheila. I was crazy over her. But forbidding us to see each other only gave us both a mission. We would overcome this and show our parents, show the world that you couldn’t push us around.
And that was my summer of 1975. It had its great moments and it had its heartaches. I remember one evening in particular. I don’t know if it was the night of the day I called Sheila’s mom or if it was some other night, but one evening in my bed, I recall sobbing almost uncontrollably. It had been building up in me for some time I guess and I finally let it out. Me and my three brothers were all tucked into our own beds, all four of us in our shared bedroom and everyone was quiet; everyone but me.
The Fall of 75 though is just around the corner and you know what that means, don’t you? School starts! I would get to see Sheila every single day. Try to stop that from happening! You can knock down a Prytania boy, but they just keep getting back up.