Pretty g-i-r-l-s sure are perplexing
I’ll not use real names in some parts of this little epistle to protect the innocent and the not-so-innocent.
It was late spring of 1951. I was a sophomore at Harding High. I noticed this very pretty freckle-faced blonde girl named Jill in my study hall. I found out her last name. I was too shy to talk to her directly, but I would smile and wave at her.
I looked up her phone number and screwed up enough courage to call her. It even took more courage than you would suspect, because Mom’s ears would perk up as she fell silent in the kitchen so that she could hear every word. I even resorted to spelling some words to make it tougher for Mom to figure out what I was saying on the phone, but she teased me relentlessly, saying that she knew what g-i-r-l spelled.
Then, school was out for the summer. I got all cleaned up and walked the mile or so to Jill’s home to pay her a visit. At 15, I was in the in-between-time where I was too sophisticated to ride my bike there, but not old enough to drive a car.
When I got there, Jill’s mom joined us in the living room. Jill’s mom was very pleasant, but she wasn’t about to leave us alone. On one visit, when I had one foot out the door, Jill quietly told me that she and her buddy, Jo, would be vacationing at Jo’s parents’ place in a trailer park at Geneva on the Lake. She invited me to come up.
Great! Now, I had to figure out how to get there. Cousin Neal, who was about 8 years older than I, had a very nice 1948 Oldsmobile that he had just repainted. It needed to be rubbed out and waxed. We cut a deal. I would do that task for him if he would take me up to Geneva on the Lake. I worked on that car for about 14 hours to just do most of the rubbing-out part. I would wax it when we got back.
I talked my pal Gerry into riding up there with me. Neal asked my sister to go along to keep him company. Neal and my sister would take in the sights at Geneva while Gerry and I cavorted with Jill and Jo. We went swimming and were having a pretty good time. After about an hour, two older guys, maybe high school seniors, showed up on the beach and joined us. Jill and Jo already had dates with them. Things got a bit awkward.
My buddy Gerry smart-mouthed those older guys so much that they decided to give up and come back later. It started to rain, and Jill, Jo, Gerry and I sat in Jo’s Dad’s car and chatted until Neal and my sister showed up to take Gerry and me back home.
I had to spend another two days finishing the promised task on Neal’s Oldsmobile by finishing the rubbing out and applying a glorious coat of Simonize.
A week or so later, I took the bus downtown to the YMCA on High Street where a Friday dance was being held for teens. Jill was there, but was dancing with an older kid. I took the opportunity to pull him aside to ask him about his situation with Jill. He told me that he and Jill had been dating quite a bit and had been going steady. I was just a bit perplexed. I knew I was terrible at competing for just about anything — including g-i-r-l-s, so I just plain gave up. Jill’s buddy Jo was there, so I danced a little with her. She was certainly nice and quite pretty, but there wasn’t that spark that I had for Jill.
To sum it up, I wound up with no pretty girlfriend; Mom would continue to listen to my phone calls where I would spell out words; my sister got a Kwepie doll at Geneva; Cousin Neal had a beautifully polished and waxed Oldsmobile; and Gerry was dating Jo.
Mumford, of Warren, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org