Every now and then I tell this story during our concerts as an intro to one of our songs.
This story is dedicated to all of the guys in the world who've made a fool of themselves. You know who you are.
I went to a Catholic high school and as you might imagine, contact with members of the opposite sex was limited to twice a day meetings. On special days, like religous holidays or school assemblies, we got an extra boost of the opposite sex.
The entire architecture of the school was designed to maintain this separation. The teachers were the Christian Brothers (of wine fame) and the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM). The school was a T shaped building complex with the stem of the T containing those facilities that couldn't be duplicated because of cost. Facilities like the cafeteria, science labs, gyms, library were fertile grounds for all sorts of adolescent mischief and fantasy, no doubt caused by exposure to the opposite sex. The Boy's and Girl's divisions were in the cross bar of the T. Boys occupied one side in a building painted in light blue and the girls occupied the other wing and yes, it was painted pink. These two wings were separated from the main stem by aerial walkways. We always imagined that individual wings could be isolated in the event of an impure thought by one of the adolescents with raging hormones. Which brings me to the point of this story......
I had a crush on a girl in my class. There, I said it. Guys, you know what I'm talking about. It was that type of crush where I memorized everything I could find out about her. She played basketball and I watched those games from the stands. I knew if I sat in the front desk by the door, I could see her walk by during class change. I knew that if I sat in a certain area in the cafeteria that she would look in my direction and wave. It wasn't until later (after returning her waves) that I realized she wasn't waving at me but rather at someone sitting behind me. Yes, I was a wave interloper, committing the worst faux pas, that of the return wave not meant for you. What a dork!
I remember the day well. It was a Saturday afternoon, early spring, crystal clear sky with just a hint of high clouds, temps in the 60's. It was that type of day that you knew only good things could happen. I came out of the gym heading to the exit where my dad was waiting for me. I have a basketball in my hands and had a pretty good game which for me meant that I didn't throw away the ball and I actually made a foul shot.
As I walk down the hallway, I look up and there she is. The object of my unrequited affection, the person with whom I had countless conversations in my mind, the smartest, coolest chick in the world and she was heading in my direction! This was my chance to atone for those return waves, those smiles, my invisibility. This was it! This was my chance to impress her with my command of the English language and my obvious athletic abilities.....the basketball, that orb of power and status in the high school world.
She approaches and I notice that she is looking at me. I KNOW there is no one behind me this time. There is no chance of mistaken identity. Because I was a musician and practice was a skill ingrained in me, I run through the upcoming conversation in my head:
Her: how are you? Haven't seen you in a while!
Me: Doing pretty fine, how are you! I see you're wearing running shoes. You must be a jogger.
Her: You're smart and I was going for an ice cream cone. Would you like to join me?
Me: Of course, I like nothing better than an ice cream cone after a hard day of basketball practice in the gym behind me where you're heading after talking to me.....
Me: Focus! Focus!
I find myself getting closer to the wall. In fact, I'm getting so close to the wall, I'm tracing the mortar indentations on those cinder block walls. Focus! Be cool! This is your chance to impress her with your wit, smarts, musical and athletic talent. She's looking at me now and I'm starting to sweat. No problem! I just came out of the gym. She'll just think I had a hard workout.....oh yeah, my cool factor will jump up when she thinks about that. Yep, she's definitely looking at me and drifting to my side of the hall. Ok, time for the cool walk!
She's now 5 feet, 4 feet, 3 feet away and she stops in front of me and says:
Her: Hi there. Do you know what time it is?
I still remember the moment I replied to her simple question. It was 40 years ago and I remember every detail of the hallway, the lighting, her looking up at me with those inquiring eyes, that smile, those running shoes, the graceful way she held her hands, the feel of every nub on the basketball I was holding. To this day, I remember those things along with those words spoken by me so eloquently, so polished, so impressive:
Me: Pretty fine, how are you?
copyright 2009 randymarchany