In junior high, whilst still living in Pennsylvania, this amorous mess still continued.
There was a girl named Cindy who thought me cute. I was a bit taken back and way too backwards to know how to react. I certainly wasn't sure of myself at all. I do remember she had perfect blond hair and she wore a brace on one of her legs. The brace didn't bother me and I never asked. This was long before anyone at all had any sensitivity to a disability. At the end of the school year, she gave me her picture and wrote, "To the cutest boy in town. Love, Cindy." I think my brother, kind soul that he is, made fun of her.
Well, hell's bells boys (a drafting teacher used to say that). This might not be bad.
The move to Charleroi Area High School was a cold shower and a quick introduction to the inherent cruelty of kids this age. Again, this was back in the days when bullies roamed the halls, free to do whatever the hell they pleased to any underclassman who had the misfortune of being in the pathway of these sociopaths. The area I grew up in was pure redneck blue collar with a mill town mentality. As my cousin referred to them, before moving to California, as "dirty mill towns." Absolutely fucking right.
I saw violence on a daily basis. A senior threw pepper into someone's eyes and then excitedly told his girlfriend what he had done. A kid spit in my face, one guy taunted me as he stole the basketball from me that I had brought as part of a class demonstration, books were knocked out of my hands. In short, this was an ambiance of a state penitentiary. I learned to be aware, to mistrust and to hate. There were daily fights. Kids would sound the blood-thirst alarm: "Fight! Fight! Fight!" Everyone would gather to watch wild hay-makers throw by sweaty, red faces. Students and teachers got into fights. Now, it seems a little unthinkable, but this was Charleroi High School: brutal, ugly.
What did the teachers do? They were either rolled over, abused and eaten alive. Or they were hard-assed bastards who ruled with an iron fist.
It's a wonder I haven't ever gone completely off.
Sidebar: I will one day have to blog just about this time period.
Oh, back to our topic. I remember a girl named Robin who sat on my left. She entranced me as she would wear some pretty provocative outfits. She was damn cute. How else would I remember her name decades later?
Then the class hottie was named Kathy. She was way out of my league. I noticed that even the seniors hit on her. I was probably a tongue-tied mess around her. I certainly wasn't old enough to drive or go out on dates. I think I just stared at her. She was beautiful.
Where I lived during this time was a place called Lover. Yes, the irony is not lost on this old boy. Lover, Pa was pretty much farmland, but you could call it a more rustic form of the 'burbs.
Life out there was pretty much "guy world"- meaning it was pretty much male friends with whom you played sports, hiked in the woods or sat around talking about girls or school events.
There was a girl named Terry (Boncarosky?) that I used to walk across a huge stretch of farmland to visit. I cannot recall how or why the courage was summoned to talk to her, but my guess is that we had to have shared the same bus. I must have been around 11 because I used to sing "These Eyes" by the Guess Who (came out in the US in 1969) as I wandered over to her house. (Why my mom thought it OK to let me wander about alone at such a young age speaks of the innocence of the time and place I suppose.)
The whole thing must have been hilariously awkward as an early Woody Allen movie. I just can't imagine what the hell we talked about and how goofy it all must have been.
|Redd's Beach circa 1955 (before my time, dammit!)|
Each summer was filled with wonders and endless possibilities. I felt like I was released from prison when school let out and the glorious and seemingly endless days of summer were ahead.
When the fam decided to join Redd's Beach, which was a huge pool for its time, this opened up a whole new world. That world was boogles of girls all in pool attire.
My pal, Richard, had a huge crush on this one blond. I distinctly remember him talking about her constantly and she damn well knew it too. At the time, Herb Albert had a big hit with, "This Guy's in Love With You." We were all in the pool and she pointed at Richard and sang, "This guy, you see. This guy's in love with me." Can't say I blamed him.
She didn't reciprocate, but neither did she treat him as if he didn't exist. Richard was a fat lad and as much as we now pretend to be blind to these things, fat boys had "romantical" troubles. They still do.
I do remember some magical moments where we'd get into a splashing/dunking fray with some girls. I was a flaming heterosexual and I knew it.
If I could somehow enter a time machine and talk to that 11 year version of myself, boy could I tell him some things. One of them would be: "Kid, it rarely gets better than it is right now."
Part 3: He has to move in order to kiss a girl