Thursday, June 13, 2013

No. 357 – Gloria

Performer: U2
Songwriters: Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr.
Original Release: October
Year: 1981
Definitive Version: Under a Blood Red Sky, 1983

This song isn’t completely applicable to the story I’m about to relate, but the timing is right. Besides, neither Roseanna by Toto, Don’t You Want Me by The Human League, Tainted Love by Soft Cell or Abracadabra by Steve Miller made this here list.

After I broke my vow of silence with Beth, the hot girl who visited Food World, things moved quickly. She came in again and gave me her phone number, and I called to set up our date for the next Saturday. It would be dinner and then putt-putt golf.

Steve, Mike and I went to the nearby PuttPuttForTheFunOfIt course a lot during high school. Do they still have those around? PPFTFOI courses, for those who don’t remember, were, like, pro courses. There were no windmills or alligators or Statues of Liberty, just hills, blocks and short posts. Par on every hole was 2. I got to be pretty good. My best score was a 4 under par when I got seven aces.

Beth said she hadn’t played in a really long time, but she agreed. The night before, Steve and I went to PPFTFOI to hang out, and I remember being really nervous. I had noticed—wanted, really—this girl for months, and now we were going to go out on a date. Now what? I’m not sure I talked about anything else the whole time that Friday, which had to have been pretty tedious for Steve.

Actually, I was more nervous that night than when I showed up the next, although the duration between when I rang the doorbell and when Beth came around the corner down the hall to the front door might have been the longest five seconds of my life.

Beth wore blue jeans and a classy blouse. Her hair was pulled in a ponytail that hung to her side, and her smile was radiant. She was 15, I reminded myself, but she looked no younger than any girl in my high-school class, maybe older. Whatever, I said hellos to everyone in the family, and we were off.

I remember so many things about that night, like the songs that were played over the PA at the putt-putt course (see the above list for further details). Dinner I remember only sparingly. The more I think about it—and I haven’t thought about this in a long time—the more I’m sure that we went to the Old Spaghetti Warehouse. That seemed to be a big first-date place for the food (decent), price (low) and ambiance (funky).

The dinner conversation never flagged as Beth and I really introduced ourselves, and it seemed like things were going well when we went to play putt-putt. Practically the whole drive over, Beth apologized for how bad she would be—it had been so long, see, since she played. I didn’t care, as long as she didn’t care that I was decent. She said she didn’t.

I seem to recall that this PPFTFOI had three or four courses. Beth chose a red ball, because it was her favorite color—as it was mine, of course. I chose blue, which ended up being foreshadowing (ahem). We picked the West course.

The first hole was a straight shot, no bank, no posts—something easy to get you warmed up. Beth went first (of course), stepped up to the tee … and drained it.

I’d been had! I was dating a Scotch-Irish (YOW!) putt-putt shark!

Beth shrieked with surprise and glee. She couldn’t believe it; she hadn’t played since she was a little girl, etc., etc. I told Beth to take her ball to the stand. If you get a hole in one, you get a discount coupon on your next game, a plastic chotchke prize and a new (pink) ball (so you couldn’t win more than once per game).

Now the pressure was on. Beth just aced the first hole, and I was supposedly this big-shot putt-putt golfer. I took a breath … and missed. Beth was ahead, which couldn’t have made her happier.

Soon enough, our true abilities came out though and I moved ahead, although Beth wasn’t nearly the horrible player she had made herself out to be. We were having a great time, a great first date, it seemed. Then we came to the 11th hole.

On this course, the 11th hole looked intimidating. It was a T stood on the end. The hole was at the other end of the T, and it was on a small platform at the top of a sharp incline. Below the incline were two block at the same 45-degree angle. You hit one of the blocks, and you were in the base of the T and staring at at least a 4.

But the hole was deceptive. The blocks had a gap of about three inches. If you just hit the ball straight with enough pace, you had an almost guaranteed ace. I knew this because I had in fact aced that very hole the night before when I played with Steve. I told Beth that this was my hole; I had it down cold.

She expressed doubt, so I reacted like any young male trying to prove himself to an attractive female of the same species—by showing off.

“Oh yeah? Well, watch this …”

I set down my ball on the tee and turned my back to the hole, so I would putt between my legs. It’s all simple geometry and physics. With a cocksure grin, I struck my putt. It went between the blocks, up the incline and dropped right in the cup.

I didn’t say a word. I didn’t have to. I told Beth the secret, but she missed, hit the blocks and took a 5. She was steaming, and she stormed off to the next hole, which was great, because now I could check out her backside without reproach. Still, she had to be at least a little impressed, don’t you think?

We finished up our game. Beth had a strict curfew of 10 p.m., and it was getting close to that time, so I drove her home. Now the nerves set in. Soon we’d be back on her front porch, and I’d be asking her for another date—and really, really hoping she’d say yes—and then going for the kiss.

We turned from Trabue Road onto Scioto River Road to get to McCoy when Beth said something I’ll never forget: “I don’t want to go home yet. Let’s go somewhere else.” That was, in fact, the most awesome thing anyone said to me up to that point in my life. That was the equivalent of 100 million between-the-legs aces.

So we took the very long route home. I drove up to Delaware County where my family had some property out in the woods (back then) before I finally headed home. We were about a half-hour late, but Beth assured me it would be OK. At that moment, I would have stuck my hand in pit of snakes if she told me it would be OK.

And then we were on her front porch, assuring each other nervously that we had a great time and that we definitely would go on another date the next week. I kissed her once; I kissed her twice. Then Beth went inside, and I floated home in triumph.

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