62. Memorable Dates in History

Published on 2 March 2024 at 14:28

© 2024 Robert Sickles

July 9, 1955, more or less

I got married and had my first kiss at six years old. There was this little girl named Claudia or something living across the street. I remember asking her if she wanted to get married, and in some sort of thumb-sucking baby talk, I guess she said yes. I’m pretty sure she was quite a bit younger. But that didn’t matter, we were getting hitched!

She was cute, in a way. She had slightly buck teeth, which I found fascinating. Something about her face made it look like she didn’t have enough loose skin to cover everything, as though her eyes, nose, and lips were pulled tight across. Anyway, I showed her how to put on her veil (a white dish towel) and how to walk a certain way down the aisle, and told her that we’d kiss after we both said “I do.” With that, her eyes widened through her thick, smudgy eyeglasses, and she started giggling and jumping like she was riding a pogo stick. It was pure and contagious excitement!

So, at our ceremony a while later, Claudia appeared like an angel in her pink overalls and chocolate-milk spotty Mickey Mouse shirt. The dish towel covered her face. I stood at the end of the hallway in her house and watched her move toward me, not so much in bridal march fashion but more like a slow Frankenstein stomp. Because of the dish towel, I guess she couldn’t see where she was going, because about halfway, she sat down on the floor and blew on her bouquet of dandelion puffs. Then she lay down and hummed while ripping up the rest of the flower stems.

Finally, she arrived at the “altar” (a small telephone table) and accepted my ring made of yellow paper and Scotch tape. I lifted her veil, trying to keep up some kind of solemnity despite her nonstop giggles. She got sillier when I asked her to remove her glasses and close her eyes.  Her grin broadened so wide that the only part of her lollipop-drool mouth I was able to kiss was on one of her protruding front teeth. Immediately, she squealed and ran to hide in the linen closet. I asked her what was happening, but she wouldn’t come out so I went home.  I think that sums it up.

As you can well imagine, I have always cherished the memory of that wedding. Wouldn’t it be amazing if she was also writing of that day in her memoirs?

 

May 28, 1966, on or about

My friend, I'll call him Ted, told us of his first big date.  I’m so glad this is not my own story!

Ted described himself as a very self-conscious and gawky teenager, so much focused on his inadequacies that he avoided hoping for romance.  Ted’s low self-esteem arose from his origins in a poor neighborhood; he was embarrassed by his family’s tacky house and cluttered yard, and he dreaded any chance that someone might meet his dysfunctional parents.

But one girl in particular kept catching his eye. Not only was she very pretty, but outgoing and popular. Clearly, he thought, completely out of his league. Add to that, her family was prominent in the community and lived in a swanky home in a nice part of town. This dream girl was named Claire, and for some reason, she seemed to be noticing Ted and smiling his way now and then. Ted heard the rumor that Claire, so far, was still waiting for a boy to ask her to the Senior Prom.

Despite the warnings of Ted’s friends, and in the face of every opposing force of nature, and at the risk of offending every social norm, Ted summoned the courage to ask Claire if she would like to go to the Prom with him. And, as though accompanied by a heavenly choir and the fanfare of golden trumpets, Claire said, “Oh, sure, I guess.”

On Prom night, Ted arrived at the driveway of Claire’s majestic home in his family’s clunky old car and considered for a moment what he was about to do: walk on that cobblestone path across a landscaped yard, up to a grand oak door lit by a fancy brass chandelier, and take hold of an imposing bronze doorknocker. “Absolutely the other side of the tracks,” he muttered.

Claire’s father greeting Ted and invited him to step inside, then called “Claire, Sweetheart, your young gentleman is here.”  The house was a modern split level, and the entry where Ted waited was about 7 steps below the living room. Ted noticed that the walls all around the entry area were done in a rich-looking stonework, and he made sure to compliment Claire’s father on their beautiful home.

When Claire magically appeared at the top of the stairs, she smiled and said something softly that Ted wishes he could have remembered, because just as he was managing to stutter how pretty she looked, Spooky, the family cat, leaped from her hidden perch up in the living room onto Ted’s shoulder and sunk all her claws into his neck. Instinctively, Ted flung his arm at whatever had pounced on him, throwing the cat violently onto the stone wall, and killing it instantly. He set the corsage on the stairs and poked at the bloody, limp cat. Definitely a goner.

The next 20 seconds seemed like a soundless, slow-motion dream, as Ted looked in disbelief at the cat, then up at horrified Claire and at her shocked father, and back at the cat. Ted’s trembling “Sorry” barely stirred the silence. Without hesitation, he fumbled behind him for the doorknob, awkwardly slunk back out the door, and drove home alone.

Happily, Ted did grow into a fine, confident man, and he became a husband and father to a great family. He preferred dogs for pets, always saying he was very allergic to cats and couldn’t have one in the house. But you’d have to wonder if that was just a cover for his pathological distrust of cats’ unpredictable intentions!

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Comments

Dave
4 months ago

Loved both historic dates. The events you described were priceless. Wish I could have been a fly on the wall. Dave

Rick
4 months ago

I do so wish that Ted had the confidence to look at the dead cat and, without missing a beat, look back at Claire and calmly ask, "So, ready to go, good-looking?"

Susan
4 months ago

Hysterical laughter reading about your wedding and a big gasp when reading about poor Ted and the kitty! 🙀 Love your funny stories!

Linda
4 months ago

As I read this piece out loud by way of editing, I laughed so hard! How fortunate to be given the gift of laughter. Thank you!