As the countless stories I have spun here on the front porch will attest. Most of my late teens, and early 20’s were spent in endless pursuit of beer and girls, not necessarily in that order. Alas, I was usually more successful in obtaining the former, rather than the latter, but on rare occasions I would stumble onto some mentally unstable girl who, for reasons known only to her psychotherapist, would pursue me. And by “rare”, I mean “once”.
This is that story.
(Sorry, I always wanted to say that. It sounds so melodramatic doesn’t it? Like something from a Hallmark Movie.)
It was a Friday evening during summer 1989, when I got a call from my friend Dan’l. He wanted to know if I was busy that evening, because his girlfriend had a cousin visiting for the weekend and he was looking for someone she could double date with. I didn’t take much convincing as working on the shop floor at Graham Mfg. had become mind numbingly boring, and most of my high school friends had already moved away from Batavia for summer internships.
As happy as I was to be going out on a date I tried to keep my hopes from getting too high. It was a blind date after all, but it was also more than that. At the time, Dan’l was stuck in a relationship with a very clingy, slightly annoying girl, who was a very devout Evangelical Christian. Her roommate was in town visiting to attend an Assemblies of God youth camp. So I wasn’t really expecting a wild night of Bacchanalian debauchery. No, that only happened with Catholic girls, and as I said, they were in short supply that summer.
So when Dan’s 1978 Cordoba pulled up to the curb in front of 20 Prospect I had low expectations. As I climbed into the backseat, I was relieved to find a very fetching blonde named Karen. Our plan for the evening was to drive up to Buffalo to see a movie, so we stopped at Tops Friendly Market to buy some road sodas. That’s when I discovered, oddly enough, that devoutly Evangelical girls drink alcohol. Not as much as Catholic girls do, but then again there aren’t many Sailors that can drink a Catholic girl under the table.
It was a lovely summer evening as the big Cordoba hummed its way along Route 5 on the way to the Amherst. The moon roof was open, the radio was playing, and Dan’ls girlfriend was curled up on the front seat next to him like a kitten. In the back, Karen and I made our acquaintance. She went to school with Dan’ls girlfriend in Utica, but was from Northern N.Y. We traded stories, and generally enjoyed ourselves as we polished off the beer. I began to think maybe this wouldn’t be such a bad night after all.
At the theater, I insisted on paying for her ticket. After the movie was over, we stopped at a nearby Perkins for breakfast, and she insisted on paying for my food. Now, the nuns raised me to be an old school, chivalrous kind of guy, but I can respect a woman who doesn’t want to feel like a dependent, so after some brief protestations I let her pay.
We climbed into the ginormous back seat of the Cordoba for the ride back to Batavia, and I was startled when she slid across the rich Corinthian leather, and leaned up against me. I put my arm around her, and marveled at the novelty of this, a girl that actually made the first move. What exactly were Jim and Tammy Faye teaching these girls at youth camp?
No sooner had the car pulled out of the parking lot, than she began speaking in tongues. As I sat there pinned against the door, I began to think that maybe evangelicalism wasn’t as evil as the Nuns told me.
Now Dan’l’s girlfriend was short, and could hardly see over the front seat, so she kept on talking to us, and every now on then we would come up for air, and answer her. She was a naïve girl, and never noticed what was going on in the back seat. Dan’l however, had a terrific perspective in the rear view mirror and knew full well what was happening. As his girlfriend put her head on his shoulder and fell asleep, he drove East on Route 5 as slowly as the law would allow. Let me tell you readers, that is a true friend.
Meanwhile, in the backseat, Karen was doing her best to convert me to Evangelicalism. I’m not a proud man, so I’ll admit that at this point in my life I would have renounced the Pope if I thought I could get lucky. Thankfully, for the sake of my soul, it never came to that. As we spoke in tongues on the rich Corinthian leather backseat, she began prophesying in my ear all of the “Acts of the Apostles” that she wanted to perform on me.
My heart was nearly jumping out of my chest with anticipation. I knew that she was spending the night with Dan’ls uptight girlfriend, and her uber-religious Mom, so I was feverishly trying to think of how I was going to get this girl alone. As we crossed the bridge into Bushville and passed Ye Old Willow Bend Tavern, Dan’l turned onto the Kelsey Rd. and began to circle Batavia in a wide arc. As I said before, friends like Dan’l are more precious than diamonds.
Eventually though his girlfriend woke up, looked out the window, and asked where the hell he was going. He offered up a lame excuse of taking a shortcut, and she reminded him that she had to get home before her curfew. He sheepishly turned the Cordoba back towards B-town, and as we entered into the soft glow of the city’s street lights, Karen and I began to straighten ourselves up in the backseat.
We kissed goodnight, and my heart sank. I knew there was no way I would ever be able to complete my catechesis. Sadly, the night was still relatively young, so Dan’l pulled into the nearest convenience store, and I bought some more beer. Then we headed back out into the country as I recited lamentations of disappointment, sharing a beer, and a laugh over God’s wicked sense of humor.
Much to my regret, she never did get a chance to finish baptizing me with her blondeness, as she left for home the next day. I got her address and wrote her a letter. She wrote me back, and when school started up again in the fall I slipped away one weekend with Dan’l to visit the girls at their college in Utica, but the moment had passed. She was back with her old boyfriend, and my evangelization came to an end. In the end there was much wailing, and gnashing of teeth, just not in the way I had hoped.