Anonymous: My First Date.

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During our sophomore year I met a girl; a wonderful shy, slender girl with grey eyes and a brunette bob. We'd eaten lunch in the same group off and on for a couple of weeks. She told a friend of hers she thought I was nice. The friend told a friend of mine. He told me. It was as clear a signal as you got in the 10th grade. Time, I thought, to ask her out on a date and let romance blossom. A real date, at night. It would be my first.

The class play was coming up. I mowed a couple of extra lawns to raise the cash for the tickets and asked my dad if he'd drive. (I wasn't old enough to have a license. You shouldn't let small things get in the way of True Love.)

The big night arrived. My dad drove me to her house. I met her parents. I opened the car door for her. So far so good, except - I couldn't think of anything to say. Polite conversation was never my strong suit. Punching her in the arm, like I did with the guys on my block when we were waiting for the bus, didn't seem like the right thing to do.

The play dragged on. During the intermission I got her a cup of punch and a cookie.

"I brought you a cup of punch," I said.

"Thank you," she said.

The silence got deeper. The evening got longer. Mountain ranges eroded into hills. Glaciers receded. I thought of a dozen conversational openers, but they all seemed trite; what could make up for an hour of silence? I needed a real dazzler, something Robert Benchley would have said to Dorothy Parker during lunch at the Algonquin Hotel, something Winston Churchill would have said to a friend, something Oscar Wilde would have put in a comedy of manners.

The muse eluded me. I suspect the muse was hiding behind a tree, laughing so hard that milk came out of her nose. The play ended. My father picked us up, drove us to her house. I walked her to the door.

"Thank you - I had a lovely time," she said.

"You're welcome" I said.

That's how I came to join the Chess Club, the AFS club and the Mu Alpha Theta. I figured if I had enough places to go at lunch I'd never have to face her again. Never seeing her again would be tough, but it would be better than dying of embarrassment.


[Ed. note: The Algonquin "Round Table" was a famous group of New York City writers and actors. They met for lunch each day at the Algonquin Hotel in the 1920's. At these luncheons they exchanged wisecracks, puns and witticisms that were spread across the country through the newspaper columns of Round Table members.]

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This page updated: June 20, 2014