Friday, April 15, 2005

The Time I Got a Date Because I'm Blonde

One of our upperclassmen buddies summoned us to a hotel room one Saturday evening to meet some out of town friends of his. He made it clear this was not to be a party, but just stop by to say hi to be polite, then feel free to continue cruising for chicks (which was our typical scheduled appointment throughout or driving years in high school - it even worked a couple times).

So we filed in, sodas in hand, high on the beautiful night and all the kids circling the main drag that ran through town. His girlfriend was there, a stout woman with a highlighted, inverted shelf of hair and an inordinate amount of black moles. There, too, was a cute, petite blonde girl. We said "Hi," bantered a bit, then shot off into the evening, mildly puzzled as to what the point was.

Monday rolled around and Upperclassman, who was really a friend of a friend so I didn't talk to him much, strolled up and asked me if I wanted to go to the upcoming Sadie Hawkins dance (we had another name for them that I don't recall). I stood there wondering what to do when he grasped my dilemma and said, "Not with me you idiot, with that girl you met on Saturday. That was why you came by. My girlfriend wants her friend to go, but she needs a date. That's you." Apparently I was going to the dance.

Odd, but I have absolutely no memory of the dance itself. Not a jot.

What I do recall is we went out afterward to one of the premier makeout spots available in my hometown, so the dance must've gone well. This spot was about 20-something miles out of town on a high hill above the river, with a beautiful view for miles in all directions. We called it "The Mushroom" because there were picnic benches covered by a huge cement umbrella that was visible for miles around. It was a little unnerving to sit beneath, and you could often see some dad climb up and pat around the base of it to see if it moved while the rest of the clan stayed safely at a distance.

We faced the highway, put some music on and started to neck. When she'd had enough teenage boy pawing - Lord help us because we can't help ourselves at that age - she said it was time to be getting back. I went to start the car and not a single sound emerged from the beast save the jingle of the keys in the ignition.

I had a huge Buick Electra, a yacht of a car with a massive 455 V8 engine that was so powerful that when I stomped on the gas - another thing teenage boys are incapable of resisting - the whole front end of the car would raise a bit and then tip to one side from the torque of the engine. It got something like 12 miles to the gallon, but the bench seats could easily hold 8 of us at that age. It was our chariot of choice. It just had this really bad habit of occasionally simply not starting. Mechanics said it was a common thing for that make of car and they had no idea how to fix it. Usually, just a jump-start from another car fixed the situation, and where I grew up having jumper cables was as crucial as having a spare tire and a jack.

But out under the mushroom we were on our own. On rare occasion, opening the hood and futzing with the battery cables or the solenoid cover would bring the car back to life, so I tried that, only to once again hear naught but the sound of crickets and wind.

"We're stuck," I said.

"Great," she said, probably not thrilled about the prospect of being trapped for the night, and trapped with Handy Boy no less.

To attempt to put her at ease, I compressed myself as far as I could into the door on my side, crossed my arms, and asked her if she wanted a blanket or anything. She quizzed me about possibly walking down to the highway, a half-mile walk in the dark, and flagging a car down. I suggested that we watch the traffic levels and see if the trip was worth the effort, because it would be cold both ways, and who knew how long we would wait. I don't believe a single car went by all evening. After she exhausted any ideas for rescue, she curled up into a quiet funk for a while.

Boredom eventually primed the conversation pump, and we started talking about ourselves like teenagers do. What we wanted to do when we grew up. Songs we liked. Movies we liked. How far we had ever gone, wink wink nudge nudeg. Little episodes from our life. Etc.

At one point, I asked why she had picked me for the dance, pre-wincing in the dark in case it was something random, humiliating, or silly - or all of the above.

"Because you're blonde. I like blondes," she said.

"Oh," I said.

"Well, and because you seemed nice," she added, perhaps thinking I wasn't completely happy with the selection criteria being a fine, glossy swath of hair and nothing about me, but boys don't think that way. I was just glad it was something innocuous.

During the next couple hours, she crept closer and closer to me, eventually reaching out and slapping my leg for emphasis or placing a warm hand on my arm when confiding a secret. I don't know if I become more attractive through scintillating conversation or if she just grew tired of chatting - I'll go with the prior just to flatter myself - but she finally closed the distance, hoisted a leg over, sat in my lap and said, "Kiss me."

Well yeeehaaaw friends and neighbors. There's not much to tell that you probably can't guess for yourself concerning what happened next (except that we were too young to "go all the way" as was the phrase back then). Let's just pan over to the curtains wafting in the summer breeze and leave it at that. I will say, however, that's when I learned the glorious benefits of taking your time, since we had all the time in the world. For those of you who can forgive the greasiness of this analogy, men are more like dragsters, all squealing swollen tires and quick flameout to the finish line, while women are more like diesel engines; they may take a while to warm up, but once she's ready she'll run you to the edge of wherever you want to go, and you'd better be prepared for the voyage, my friend.

Oh, and she demanded that I give her a hickey. I have never understood the appeal of a hickey. Some seem to think they are passion badges of honor. To me they resemble a sea lamprey attack. They don't feel much different than kisses on the neck, which are nice, and as such I don't see the need to damage the upholstery. Nonetheless, she pointed at her jugular below her ear, "Right here. A big one." And so I obliged. She even inspected it in the mirror before signing off on it. Whateryagonnado?

We eventually slept comfortably because the seats in a Buick Electra are bigger and cushier than most double beds. We awoke about an hour before the sun crested the hills behind us, and I got out to decide how to get us home. Off in the distance to the east was the frame of a new house with a obligatory beatup pickup out front, and it was a short jaunt from the highway so if no one was there, the trip wouldn't exactly be wasted, so off I went.

After about a mile down a dirt road, I had to strike out cross-country through some pastures and across a shallow stream. The stream conveniently had walking stones across it, but I swim like a rock, so it was still harrowing over some of the deeper places. Immediately beyond that was a wire fence. An electrical fence, I discovered the hard way. Upon touching an electrical fence, it feels as though someone has smacked your hand with a baseball bat, not viciously, but with enough of a whack that you automatically recoil; your teeth clack together; and you do a full body grunt, usually making a quiet "uhngh" vocalization as your lungs convulse. You invariably think the word "fuck." - lowercase, no exclamation point. Your fingertips buzz or tickle for a moment afterwards and then it's over. I happened to flash on the memory of an unfortunate pal who inadvertently discovered an electrical fence by peeing on it. I imagine his doobies bobbed liked yoyos during the delivery of the current.

To cross an electrical fence, you need something that doesn't conduct current like a wooden stick or plastic pipe. I found a piece of driftwood and pushed the fence down to stride over it, all the while the neon image of electrified doobies dancing in my head. I headed across the field, not really thinking along the lines of why there was an electrical fence there - this also being a symptom of teenage years, as I was never up this early in the morning on purpose and so my already compromised reasoning powers didn't fire up to provide any deeper thoughts than, "Walk in that general direction."

Lost in thought and sweet memories of the previous night, nothing short of a large explosion or a naked girl would have caught my attention. But after twenty minutes, something just seemed ... odd. Like I was being watched. Also, there was more background noise than is normal out on the vast, flat plains of the Midwest, something just beyond the noise of the wind in the wheat. Yes, there was a very low rumble behind me, so I turned around to discover a HUGE heard of cows following me. I mean, practically horizon to horizon huge, all in a nice straight line in the front, at least twenty deep, hundreds of liquid bovine eyes trained on my person. They were just strolling along behind me, not trying to catch up, so it dawned on me they probably thought (as much as cows think, that is) that I was there to feed them, so they were following me to the cattle larder, as it were. I had heard enough about this kind of thing to know not to run, because then the cows would run too, which can lead to some nasty consequences. But I gotta tell ya, it takes a pretty significant act of willpower to walk at a casual pace when thousands of tons of cow muscle balanced on hard, sharp hooves is a mere car-length behind you, staring at your back, drooling. They started to low as we went along, probably because we were getting close to where they usually got fed. When we got to the fence on the other side of the pasture, I just hauled of and jumped that sucker, not caring if my foot caught or if I got another jolt, doobie damage be damned. I didn't intend to have to tell Jesus I'd died from being tangoed on by a heard of cows. He'd make me wait in the same place with Bill Cosby had he died from drifting backwards into the San Francisco Bay because he can't work a clutch.

But the house was close now, and like a cow closing in on feed, I hurried towards it. Still shaken from the bovodinal slow-motion chase and the surprise of the fence, I was paying less attention than usual, and I thought I could see a phone mounted on one of the framing boards! What're the odds?

A flying, frothing Doberman yanked short on a chain four inches from my face, spraying it with foul dog spittle. It landed, recovered, and pulled so far out on the taught chain that it stood on its hind legs. "Hap! Hap! Hap! Hap! {gag} HACK! Hap! Hap! Hap!" it barked in full berserker mode. It wanted me so badly it was nearly comical. I had managed not to wet myself, but I stayed planted and had a full goose bozo attack of the fantods until I could regain my composure, such as it was.

There was indeed a phone in the house, but the chain of the dog was long enough that it could reach me in there. Adrenalin had finally fired up a couple brain cells, and it dawned on me that this was a dog. A dog on a chain. Tied to a tree. I walked in a circle around the tree beyond his reach, and the dog followed, eventually getting wrapped completely around the trunk, at the end of about five feet, allowing me to get to the phone. It was working and I called my grandma to rescue us (I lived with my grandma during my last couple years in high school as my mom had taken a job out of the state and I wanted to graduate with my friends).

I unwrapped the dog from the tree by walking circles the other direction, thinking it would be cruel to leave him to try to figure it out for himself. I imagined that the owner of the house would be pissed enough that there was a surprise long distance call on his phone, but he would be livid if he discovered his dog dead from dehydration or starvation.

To my surprise, the upperclassman who'd arranged this date showed up with his dad to retrieve us. My grandma had called them to let them know where the girl was, and they'd offered to retrieve us. They weren't angry after they discovered my car was truly MIA, and even they couldn't start it. We piled into their van and headed home.

She sat in the front seat, me and upperclassman in the back. She turned her head to watch the rest of the sunrise on the horizon, which exposed the massive hickey she'd demanded. Even more spectacularly, the light from the sun bounced off one of the van's mirrors just so, and it lit it up as though it were the star in a vaudeville act. The second I noticed it, I glanced over to upperclassman just in time to see his eyebrows rise in surprise. He shot a look over to me, and at first I though he was gonna get all tense in my direction like upperclassman tend to do just because they can, but instead he grinned and gave be a secretive thumbs up.

I got a lot of macho mileage with the guys from that hickey, delivered on a raft of good-natured ribbing, of course. I never saw the girl again, though. C'est la vie.


Anonymous said...

Dr. Yahmdallah, this is a nice memory and you wrote it nice, but the best thing about teenage girls is breasts, and you write a whole story about the plush acres of a giant buick starcruiser and nothing about the plush acreage of the teenage girl you beamed up into it. She's a matron now, and you don't even give us the days of her glory. Detail. Detail. Detail.

Yahmdallah said...

To borrow a paraphrase from Seinfeld, they were spectacular. If you want a more apt description, spin up Bob Seger's "Night Moves."

Anonymous said...

Dr Y,

Not to be too pedantic here, but isn't a young woman blonde and you blond?

Yahmdallah said...

Interesting question.

According to Webbies, in French the genders are observed for
but in English, it's just a variant - a po-tay-to vs. po-tah-to kinda thing.

Sya said...

Variant? Maybe I should try that argument sometime. I once got ripped to shreds in front of an entire writing class by the prof because of my misuse of the blond/blonde thing.

sharon said...

Your prof was an idiot. (Assuming male; otherwise, she was an idiote.) If we had to follow French usage for gender (and why not number?) agreement, men could only be naif, never naive; women might blanch at Yahmdallah's posts on vomit, but men only blanc; and while I'm a brunette, my dear husband would only be a brun.

The more interesting question is why it's nearly always the feminine form of French adjectives and participles (e.g. venue, revenue, entree, etc.) used in English.

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