Towards the end of my sophomore year I had developed a nice group of friends in school. Although I never reached the pinnacles of popularity at Canandaigua Academy, I could see it from my house (Thanks Sarah). My circle of school friends intersected at a couple of spots with some popular kids, and in my eyes, that was enough. Truth be told, from where I started in my social status, with almost no one knowing me, to where I was that year, with a few popular people knowing my name, it seemed a huge leap. Only years later did I realize how ridiculous these self-perceived barriers were, but also how common and widespread the belief or misconception, but I digress... I'm 2 paragraphs in and I haven't even introduced the main character, Jeez I'm slipping.
I had met her in a few classes in my freshman year, and wound up at a table during study hall with her most of my sophomore year. She was better friends with my best friend Dan, as they grew up down the road from each other, but that year, I got to know her better with that 45 minutes each day. Our group would frequently be gently chastised by the school librarian for laughing a little too much, or too loudly, but honestly I think Mr. Chapman liked overhearing our stories or jokes, so the rebukes were short and well spaced. It was during this time that I developed my interest in this girl and started my plan to try and move our relationship from friendship to something more. It was a huge risk and a move seldom tried in high school, as she was at the top of the popularity pyramid, and I was still placing my blocks at the bottom. I was a geeky, non athletic, poor kid, who wore red jeans and smelled like a fry cook. She was a smart, beautiful, head cheerleader, popular girl, who came from a fairly affluent family, and she smelled like flowers. It was an epic mismatch (in my eyes), and the ending of this story surely writes itself, or does it?
|Not me, not her, but you get the picture.|
"WHO'S ON THE PHONE" bellowed my Dad from the living room. "I have to call a friend for a minute" I yelled back, my voice cracking slightly. I dialed the second number (dammit, a 9!). The dial took forever to come back from that one, and meantime a brother entered the room. "Who ya calling" he asked, "just Dan", I lied and he passed through on the way to another room. I dialed the 3rd number, man was it hot that summer? And so it went for the next 15 minutes, with me starting to dial the number, hanging up, restarting, answering my siblings inquiries as to my intentions, and then finally when the coast seemed clear, I got the whole number dialed and it started to ring. My heart was beating as fast as it ever had at that point in my life, and wasn't its position supposed to be lower that my throat? Her Father answered and I squeaked out a "Hello, is *** there? The dining room was suddenly full of my curious siblings, with the all knowing smirks on their faces (you know I have 11 right?). OK, they weren't all really there, but it seemed like it. When she came to the phone, I stuttered through my well thought out semi-soliloquy (I had to get it all out before she could say no, right?) It went something like this..."
Hi ***, listen, I was wondering if you were going to the St. Mary's festival this weekend, I think you've gone before, right, I was planning on going there too, and was wondering if we might go together and catch up since we haven't seen each other since June, if your folks could bring you in, I can meet you there and we can hang out and maybe do some rides, and games, and I don't have a curfew so we can stay until the end if you want, I can pay of course what do you say?"
This may well have been the longest run on sentence of my life, over a hundred words tumbled out and they did it all in a matter of a few seconds. The pause that followed was equally as long. Her voice that came back was sweet, polite, but ultimately firm and she said " Oh, I don't think we are going this year, but thank you for asking". We finished with some small talk and the obligatory "maybe another time" but my words were no longer rushed and my heart had moved lower into the pit of my stomach. The crowd around me dissipated and then the worry started about whether I had endangered a friendship that I enjoyed by trying to move it further. I went to the festival and saw her across the midway, but carefully avoided her all night to save us both the embarrassment of seeing each other there. When September came, it took a little while for our friendship to return to it's previous position, but it happened, and this call became a distant memory for me, painful as it seemed at the time. High School is like that, every emotion seems overwhelming, every event the most important one, and yet years later try to recall them all, and you can't. How so many of us survive it is amazing in itself.
Now I teased a possible surprise ending to this story earlier, and maybe it is coming, but if it is, it is coming in Part 2 of "Sweaty hands and rotary phones" If I get over 20 comments on Part 1, I will post it sooner (Yes, it's blackmail, but I like an interactive blog better).
|To be continued......|