Friday, August 06, 2010

Puppy Love

In the summer of 1983, my mom was no longer an active Jehovah's Witness; she said she no longer believed in it. It was during this time that my dad, along with his female Witness business partner, took us kids to the yearly convention in Wisconsin. We had the good fortune to be going with a couple girls who were my age. They would certainly make the trip much more interesting.

My dad's friend really knew how to drive in style; she had a blue Cadillac. On one occasion, in that huge back seat, we passed a city sign that said: Pop. 1532. I asked her what Pop. meant and she explained it to me. If I spent too much time in that car, I grew to feel quite nauseous. I don't recall ever barfing in it, however.

After several hours of driving that first day, we arrived at the hotel. The girl who was closest to my age, Melanie, had a conversation with me in the back of the Cadillac; my dad and the rest had headed to the office to check in. I was chewing on a large piece of gum. She mentioned that one of the reasons she was taking Spanish that fall was because she liked the idea of being able to swear at others in a different language.

At one moment, a huge piece of saliva (from the gum) came out of my mouth and fell onto her hand. I felt humiliated as she wiped the back of her hand on the underside of the car seat. We talked for another minute or two before heading into the hotel.

As day turned to night, my siblings and the two girls had great fun talking and watching TV. One of the movies that played as we visited was "Zapped" a cheese-tastic 80's flick which starred Scott Baio and Willie Aames. There'd be less time for fun the next day, but I was still looking forward to it.

We got up nice and early and headed to the center where the assembly for area Jehovah's Witnesses was taking place. We would be among hundreds of others who had the exact same views as us; one is not allowed to question the Witnesses' beliefs once baptized with them (even when the head honchos decide to change their minds about various issues; they call this "new light").

The real fun was had that evening as we looked for a place to eat. As we drew closer to the city's restaurant row, one of my favorite songs came on the radio: The Tubes' "She's A Beauty". To this day, listening to it takes me back to that summer evening.

We ended up eating at Showbiz Pizza, a choice I was ecstatic with as they had video games there. One of the newest games was Dragon's Lair. Instead of having typical video game graphics, it was animated like a cartoon. They also had MACH 3 which was a breakthrough game in that it used actual footage shot in a desert.

All this new technology made me happy that I was growing up when I was.

The next day, it was back to the assembly. Something interesting happened to me while there. I was sitting next to Melanie watching a drama; this is when Witnesses put on clothes from Biblical times and act out various things that occurred in the Bible.

At one point, I felt her foot on mine. I moved mine away, figuring she had accidentally moved hers there. A minute later, she again put her foot on mine. This time, I kept mine in place and quite enjoyed the sensation. I was now certain that she liked me (despite the saliva incident) and it felt great.

Later, we ate at Bobs' Big Boy where I had a juicy burger. Four of us kids had a booth to ourselves. As was typical in those days, there was a jukebox in which popular songs of the day could be played; Melanie played a popular country-pop song called "Snapshot".

As we headed home and I saw her resting on the other side of the car, my feelings were bittersweet. I was joyous that someone was taking an interest in me, but sad that we probably wouldn't be able to spend much time together in the months ahead; school would be starting soon.

As we drew closer to Winona, I saw a light coming from Sugar Loaf (it's the rock that's pictured on the cover of my book). I then remembered recently hearing that lights had been installed there; it was nice to see it all lit up. Melanie was woken up by our murmuring and though tired, also marveled at the sight. Though our trip was now over, I'd had a taste of love and looked forward to getting more of it in the future.


chris said...

That was an awesome post, thanks.

Thomas said...

Thanks, Chris. I've done hundreds of biological posts, but continue to be suprised when another batch of memories rears its head dying to be expressed.

SilverNeurotic said...

I love how you always incorporate songs, video games, movies, etc. into these posts...

ExtraO said...

Aww... sweet. So, how did your dad feel about your mom saying she no longer believed? Did that cause problems?

Thomas said...

Thanks, Sil. I'm reading a book right now by a guy who does the same thing; his tome is called "Talking to Girls About Duran Duran".

Extra, my dad was a bit discouraged, but hopeful that she'd return. One night, on the drive home from service, he asked us to show her, with our words and actions, that we really enjoyed going to the meetings, that she was really missing out by no longer attending.

Ten minutes later, we came home to find her ironing while watching TV. At that moment, I kinda wished that I was "missing out" as well.

Narkissos said...

wonderful post...your first taste of being liked by a girl, i guess....:)
good to see another post from ya tom...thought you took a vow of blog abstinence....
missed it.....:)

Rocketstar said...

There is no feling that compares to the feeling of "the strange"; none. It's what keeps us alive and also encourages us to cheat.

Dave Oxton said...

Isn't it funny the way you can hear a song on the radio and instantly be reminded of a time/place in your past. I have many, not so much with films but definately with songs.

Strange to think how a song can mean so many different things to so many different people depending on how they felt during the time they first heard it. Elton John's "Dont Go Breaking My Heart" always reminds me of my first holiday without my parents when I was 16 and wandering around the fair grounds with my friends. The soundtrack of that summer it seemed to be endlessly playing. Happy times.