1halffull's Blog

The Kiss that Missed….

January 11, 1969. A day that will live in….what? My mind? My heart? The front porch?

It lives on in all three as the day Dan thrust his class ring into my hand, slid a kiss down my cheek and fled.

Let me start at the beginning….

It was the summer of 1966. I was enjoying summer with my cousin and friends.

At the time, I had a faithless boyfriend that I would soon be rid of. What a jerk. At the same time, my cousin was seeing a boy named Tim. Tim’s side kick happened to be Dan. If we lived closer, he’d still be Tim’s sidekick – one of those enduring relationships.

Dan first saw me swimming in the park pool. To his credit, he didn’t run away screaming. Instead, he asked my cousin ‘Hey, is Page (my last name) going with anyone?’ How’d he even know my last name? I had no idea. Tracy told him the bad news that I was seeing someone else. All very high stakes for an eighth grader, don’t you think?

Life moved on and I didn’t see Dan again until we both ended up on the school newspaper.  Dan’s brother Rich was also there.  Even though Dan and I are the same age, he was in 10th grade.  Apparently he was some big smarty pants, or else his birthday just happened to land him a year ahead of us. :0)

Rich and I became pretty good friends while Dan behaved like the typical, shy 10th grade boy. He’d do what I like to call ‘the rooster dance’. The rooster dance worked like this: He’d talk to me for a week or so, then he’d retreat and act like I had the plague. Then he’d talk to me again, etc. Very annoying and not an encouragement to hang around much.

Rooster Dance nothwithstanding, I decided to invite him to the upcoming Sweater Hop (it was girl’s choice).

I called his house and Rich answered. He had some idea that I was calling to ask him to the big dance and was very surprised when I asked to speak to Dan. Unbelievably, Dan said yes and we went shopping for our matching sweaters. After the dance Dan resumed his position as rooster and didn’t ask me out again.

So I got another boyfriend, Chuck.

While I dated Chuck, it was not uncommon for Dan to make drive bys of my house with Tim. Later he would say that was because they were on the way to Tim’s house. If that was true, they were taking a completely round about way to get there. The truth was that he was spying on me and would usually see Chuck and me on my front porch. Served him right.

Freshman year ended and sophomore year found me in chemistry class with guess who? Dan and Rich. I was really uncomfortable with this state of affairs.  Since I was still dating Chuck, I contemplated changing to another class.  That never happened and I later learned that Dan also contemplated the same action. Had we both changed to the other chem class, we’d still have been together, just without Rich!  Weird, huh?

Class was uncomfortable, but I tried to ignore who was there. Chem class was so hard for me that I didn’t dare do otherwise.

In early December, Chuck and I broke it off. When he learned what happened, guess who swooped in with an invitation to midnight mass on Christmas Eve?  A more beautiful night I don’t think I’ve ever seen.  It was very picturesque with lightly falling snow, candles lit in the church and the music of the Christmas choir all around.

The next day Dan went with his family to Lorain to visit grandmas, aunts, uncles and cousins. While there, he used his tape recorder to make me a wonderful audio tape of their activities, including interviews with family members and my favorite piece of all, his Uncle Nemo singing ‘Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime.” It was the sweetest and funniest gift I’d ever gotten.

Although I don’t remember the specifics, I’m sure we went out a couple times during Christmas vacation and met at the Youth Center after a couple basketball games. I know we talked on the phone because my folks limited my talk time to something ridiculous like 10 minutes. Did that mean 10 minutes on with two minutes off? LOL

On the evening of January 11th, Dan called about 9:30 to ask if I could take a ride with him in the car. Hey, why not? What else was I going to do, watch paint dry?

When he arrived, he came bravely up to the door to get me. We went out and drove around town, just talking about life and beliefs; I don’t remember, but I’m sure there must have been some sports talk in there somewhere.

After driving around for an hour, he brought me home. It was 10:30; I remember looking at the clock. He opened the car door for me and walked me onto the porch to my door. As I opened the door, he thrust his class ring into my hand as he said, “Will you go steady with me?” and bent down to seal the deal with a kiss. Just as he did that, I turned my head and the kiss went sliding down my cheek. I think I giggled and he dashed off the porch, leaving me to wonder what had just happened??

In that moment, Dan went from doing the rooster dance at me to doing what has become a lifelong run of many forms of dance with me. In our lives, that is a moment that lives in infamy and is celebrated every year with at least a ‘Happy (year) Anniversary” and a kiss that doesn’t miss!


A kid at my age…

It’s 2012. Two days in and I’m thinking about what someone said to me in 2011: “You’re such a kid at heart’; I can see you enjoying that.”

I don’t remember what she was referring to – I guess that’s part of being my age. I do remember her saying it and at first, not being sure how to take it. So I’ve been thinking about it on and off and here’s how I’ve decided to ‘take’ it.

Growing up, there wasn’t alot of room for being a kid. I was, by age, a child in a house full of adults. I was expected to act like an adult. Hence, when I asked for a Mickey Mouse watch, I got two watches: a gold one for Sunday and dress up events and a silver one that I might wear everyday. Neither was a Mickey Mouse watch which is what I asked for.

When it was time to learn how to play the piano and participate in a recital, I didn’t play the Indian Wigwam song that was at my level of play; no, it was expected that I would play The Hungarian Rhapsody – perfectly! I was so intimidated that I just knew I would make mistakes, disappointing my mother and grandmother. Of course, that’s exactly what happened because there was no room allowed for a kid to make mistakes, only the supposed perfection of an adult.

I was also not pretty enough, not thin enough, not smart enough. I was always such a disappointment and I think that was because I could never be adult enough at age eight, 10 or 12 to be anything else.

The funny thing was that I didn’t want to have to be an adult. I wanted to be like all the other kids and be a kid.

I think for my mother and grandmother, allowing me to be a kid must have been a very scary place for them. I think they saw it, especially my mom, as a place where I might get hurt by something or someone. They just couldn’t allow either of those things to happen to me. I kind of understood that part when I had kids of my own….but I forced myself to let them – after I’d said ‘but be careful’ before they walked out the door.

My mother died when I was 16. When that happened, I made myself act like an adult and assumed the care of the house, making meals, doing laundry, taking care of my brother and handling things for my dad. I was so sad for him I didn’t want him to have any other burdens. Grandma was there, too, and she’d give direction to my assumed adult activities along with a load of disappointment and more for me to bear. I could never do much that was right in her eyes either.

Along the way, there were a few oases of respite where I could try to be a kid: my Aunts Judy and Betty; dear ‘Mama Jane’ whose backyard connected to ours and whose daughter and I managed to find ways to get into some good troubles together – we were often ‘grounded’ from playing with one another. There was Ellen and Linda and Girl Scouts. Finally there was graduation, college and marriage – all places I kept trying to find relief for my childhood desires by bringing along with me the things that were left undone and finding a way to do them as an adult.

That Mickey Mouse watch? I received it from my mother-in-law one early-married year for Christmas! I was thrilled.

Vacations? I’ve had some really good ones with my husband and my children to places kids (or at least this ‘kid’) like to go – Disney World, Daytona Beach, Cedar Point, Universal Studios, water parks and more.

I can be very serious, but I love to be silly, play jokes on people, wear St. Patty’s Day gear to a six a.m. party, Halloween costumes to work and laugh like a loon! I find happiness and even joy in a sunny, blue sky day, especially if I’m around a lake or the ocean – and I don’t care what the temperature is!

And if that looks like I’m acting like a kid, then so be it! Everyone deserves a childhood and this is still part of mine.