Thursday, August 14, 2008

Fly Me To The Moon

Painfully shy does not even begin to describe me in the first 16 years of my life. I could not talk to anyone on the phone, I got straight A's in school because I was terrified of attention being drawn to me if I ever had anything other than the right answer and I rarely spoke a word to anyone.

This is a bit of background for the story I'm about to share.

When I was in morning kindergarten at the Van Duyn school in Syracuse, New York, I had an admirer named Billy Bartlett. He was my teacher. (Okay, that's gross even for me...just seeing if you were paying attention.) Billy was my age -- a peer -- a classmate -- five years old (did I just reach the point where I'm protesting too much?) In his attempts to woo me, Billy came up with many stories -- including one about him being an astronaut and going to the moon.

Apparently, Billy had a thing for the quiet types -- perhaps I came across as mysterious and compelling in my refusal to say anything out loud. Or, maybe he thought I was a mime. I don't know. But he did decide that I was the girl for him. And he was persisent. And because I was so shy, Billy somehow became my boyfriend (whatever that means in morning kindergarten), even though I don't remember having much say in all of it. (I learned later that this personality type is generally referred to as "stalker" who "preys upon women who are vulnerable and do not stand up for themselves" -- ah, the folly of youth.)

Billy's mom worked at the lunch counter at Woolworth. (How many of my younger readers are choking on their lunch as they read that last sentence? Yes, there used to be "lunch counters" and they used to be at Woolworth. Google it, whippersnappers.) Billy had his mother call my mother to arrange a lunch date one day after we got out of morning kindergarten. The plan was that Billy's older brother would pick us up from school and drive us to Woolworth and we'd have a leisurely, romantic lunch and then Billy's mom would drive me home when we were done.

I'm sure this seemed cute to the parents involved and I'm sure Billy loved it, but from the moment it was arranged I was scared to death. I knew I wouldn't be able to talk to his brother or his mom and just having to be somewhere without my mom or dad petrified me.

On the appointed day of our "date," I decided that I just could not go through with it and began my regular walk home with my friend, Cheryl. We got about a block away from school and a car pulled up next to us with Billy, Billy's older brother, and two other teenagers in it. Billy and his brother rolled down the car window and called, "Kathy....Kathy...." I stared straight ahead and kept walking toward home. My friend, Cheryl, tugged on my sleeve and said, "um...I think they're talking to you." Without looking at her, I said..."Look straight ahead and keep walking.." Billy and his brother kept calling my name for the next block or so (and yes, I could hear the other teenagers in the car laughing) and then finally just gave up and drove away. (In my defense...I was already the shyest kid on the planet...and was a nervous wreck about these plans...and then they bring in two other teenagers...just wwwaaayyy too much for my 5-year-old self to handle.)

My mom was furious when I made it home, and called Billy's mom to apologize. (I also remember a pretty intense spanking, though my mother would deny that if you asked her now.) It's amazing I was ever able to have a normal relationship as an adult.

Later that night, Billy's mom drove him over to my house. He came in with a present for me -- a plastic wedding and engagement ring set (likely from Woolworth) wrapped in an empty Cracker Jack box.

I guess the upside for him in my blowing off the date is knowing that it never would have worked out, anyway. I mean, an engagement ring on a first date? That is just moving way too fast. Also, who wants to marry a guy who's never there for you because he's in another galaxy?

8 comments:

dilettard07 said...

Ah yes, the Woolworth's lunch counter. The Woolworth's in Exeter, NH had one until the early 80's, and once they repurposed the space for more cheap retail, the whole store was gone in a few more years. Since Woolworth's was the main (OK, only) department store in Exeter, my poor mother got many a Christmas gift from there.

Having a strange teenage kid (well maybe your mom knew these people; did she frequent the lunch counter?) pick up your daughter from kindergarten would today no doubt result in a legal spanking for the parents.

Kathleen said...

Tell me about it!!! The whole thing reeked...it stank on ice. My mother did NOT know these people well...I think she just wanted me out of the house or married off or something.

The Rexall Drug in Vienna had a lunch counter until about three years ago. Seriously. It was like stepping back into the 50s when you walked in there.

(I wept because I got a spanking...then I met a man who got Christmas presents from Woolworth.)

dilettante07 said...

I am married to an old person.

dilettante07 said...

Not really, I'm just jealous because our Woolworths had already converted the lunch counter by the time I was old enough to remember. I did have the fold sody fountain experience in Buffalo, WY in the late 80s...in fact, I would be it's still there.

Kathleen said...

Jesus Lord, Dilettante07, ever hear of spell check?

(perhaps I'm feeling a little defensive after you referred to your husband as "old" and he's three years younger than me)

dilettante07 said...

Ok, well sody ws intentional. I'm not sure where fold came from. I think it was supposed to be "whole" instead, which is close from a sound standpoint, but not so much from a spelling standpoint. And I left off a "t" on bet. Sheesh. You say you want people to post and then you grammar-police them? Hmph.

And I was hoping to offend...you called me a whippersnapper. Did I spell THAT right?

Kathleen said...

hey...I should be thankful. Most whippersnappers type things like
U R 2 dum. I apologize. I should never criticize my commenters. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry.

dilettante07 said...

Thatz btr, bee-yotch.