and it all started with this:
Yeah, I remember when your Mother and I first started goin’ steady. That’s what they called it back then — goin’ steady. Anyway, I remember this particular time I was goin’ to take your Mom to this really scary movie. I forget the exact movie, but everyone had seen it but me, so I was goin’ to see it by hook or by crook.
Well, I went callin’ on her this Friday or Saturday — I forget which – but it was a weekend and a night, and we had to walk because I couldn’t drive. So we walked to the movies and I thought it was funny because your Mother was walkin’ in the grass and I was walkin’ on the sidewalk. She told me that the white shoes with the fairly tall heels — an inch was tall in those days — make that loud noise that hard heels make on the sidewalk, and that embarrassed her.
Funny girl, your Mom.
Oh yeah, the movie. The movies back then were continuous: once they started they went ’til they quit and it only cost a quarter. There’s a main feature, and for while they’re rewindin’ that, there were cartoons and a newsreel or two — usually of the war. And they were as popular as the main feature.
Well, we got there in the middle of the cartoons — “Tom and Jerry” or somethin’ like that — which were right before the main feature — one of those hair-raisin’ monster movies. I always thought that was a real slick trick to put the cartoons and a horror show right next to each other.
So, listen to this: your Mom and I sat down and when the movie starts she leans over and whispers in my ear, she says: “I’d feel a lot better if you were holdin’ my hand.” And I say — fool that I am, I could not be satisfied with just sittin’ there quietly holdin’ her hand, oh no — I ask — are you ready? — I ask, “Why?” I have no earthly idea, even today, why I said that. I guess I thought she might say she liked me — but, no — she says, “Because I’ve seen this movie before.”
She did like me, though.
Well, it turned out it was a good thing she’d seen the movie before, because she knew when the scary parts were comin’ and I didn’t. So, I soon noticed that right before a scary part she would give my hand a squeeze. And so when I felt a squeeze, I’d be ready. It made me feel good just sittin’ there holdin’ hands and gettin’ squeezed.
Yeah, I felt good, so I took her to the drug store — that’s where we went after the movies in those days — to get a soda. Even after the sodas, we were still holdin’ hands and she was still walkin’ in the grass… when there was some. You know, I don’t know why she even wore those shoes if they embarrassed her so much.
Funny girl, your Mom.
Oh, well, we went to see that movie a couple more times that summer: sittin’ in the same seats, holdin’ the same hands, and squeezin’ and gettin’ squeezed at the same times as before. And you know what? Well, I’ll tell you. Sometimes your Mom and I will be sittin’ on the sofa watchin’ the late show on the telly, and that very same movie will come on, and your Mom will want to watch it. Again. And you know, she still squeezes my hand when the scary parts come.
(As I recall, I wrote this when I was a senior at a boys high school in Chattanooga, back in the ’70s.)