Trail of a Heart 17 – Meeting Mr. Right

 In Autobiography

The summer between my sophomore and junior years, I met a guy who seemed to have all of the qualities I wanted in a man. He was impeccably groomed, handsome, intelligent, funny, mature, and he wanted me. What a combo! His name was Bob.  He was 22 and I was 16, but I tried to pretend it didn’t matter.

In his defense, Bob had good reason to believe I was older that I was. I met him that summer while babysitting my older sister, Carol’s, six-month-old baby, Kenneth, who we called “Buddy.” As Carol’s little house was close to town, I would look forward to taking Buddy out in the stroller and window shopping along the main street of town.

I first encountered Bob when I went into a Kinney’s Shoe Store looking for green shoes to put with an outfit I was going to buy with my babysitting money. As the salesman, he struck up a conversation. He told me later he had figured that I was divorced with a baby. We had a good laugh about that. As we talked I realized he was the big brother of my best friend, Judy’s, boyfriend, Don. He had just gotten out of a four-year stint in the Marine Corps. He wanted to take me out.

At this time, being 16, Daddy finally considered me old enough to date. I don’t think it was our first date, but I remember the time he came to pick me up to go bowling. I was dressed in pants, probably pedal pushers, which I considered to be appropriate for the activity. Bob took one look at me and said he wasn’t going to take me anywhere dressed like that! I was shocked – Daddy was pleased. Needless to say, I went in and changed into a pleated skirt.

Women wearing pants in public was still considered indecent exposure in our part of the Bible Belt by many, my dad included. We were only allowed to wear pants to school once a week, and then there were specific guidelines including wearing a very long shirt (usually our daddy’s) that had the effect of covering like a dress.

Our dating became a regular thing, usually only on weekends which was usually the only time my parents allowed when school was in session. Sometimes we would just go for a “coke” and talk. One time I was invited to a pool party at a friend’s house. For some reason Daddy did not let me go. I had already told Bob I would meet him there.

I decided to sneak out and walk to the party anyway. I didn’t let on to Bob that I had sneaked out. The evening was tense as I feared being found out. When I got home, Daddy was waiting for me. I told him where I had been, but I don’t remember telling him I met Bob there. I don’t know what punishment I received, but deceiving Daddy was the number one sin in my house.

I have tried to remember when my relationship with Bob turned serious. In my mind it was when I stood Bob up. There was a guy from school who seemed very interested in me. I was flattered, but not really interested. On this one occasion, on a Saturday afternoon he had come over to the house and wanted me to go get a coke with him. I told him I had a date with Bob that night and couldn’t. He kept pushing, saying it would only be an hour and he would get me back in time for the date. I gave in and left with him.

When we got to the Feastmaster, the drive-in at the end of the main drag, I realized he had no intention of getting me back home for my date. It really scared me that I was apparently powerless to change his mind, but I have to admit I was also very excited and flattered. It’s interesting that I did feel helpless being in a situation I truly believed I couldn’t change.

Bob really had no exclusive hold on me, but I wanted him to be that one. I wasn’t in any danger, except for the obvious risk I felt I had of losing Bob. I was kicking myself to have allowed my ego to put me in such a fix. The guy let me use the pay phone at the drive-in to call Bob and let him know I couldn’t make it for our date. He was put off, as I expected he would be.

I don’t know how we got that smoothed over, but I am sure it was after massive groveling on my part, which was the continual role I had in that relationship. I had this picture of Bob being like a King who had deigned to look my way. I had to keep him at all cost.  Pride wasn’t going to keep us apart if I had anything to do with it.

 Watch for the next installment.

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