Friday, September 8, 2023

Insight: The Rico Suave Experience

By Ed Pierce
Managing Editor

My first-ever date didn’t exactly go the way I expected and years later I’m still trying to figure out where I went wrong.

After asking out several girls during my sophomore year of high school without success, I made the decision to try a third time after the Christmas break. There was a young lady named Paula Gleason who caught my eye, and we were in the same English class in school.

One day I passed by her locker and stopped and asked if she would like to go to the JV basketball game with me on Friday night. This was all new to me and it was challenging to overcome my shyness and approach her to ask for a date. But I summoned my courage and to my surprise, she said yes.

During dinner with my family that evening I announced the good news and my father had one question for me. He asked me how I was going to get her to and from the game.

As it turns out, basketball season in high school runs during the winter and I was so consumed with trying to muster enough courage to simply ask her for a date that I completely forgot about the transportation aspect.

I immediately ruled out walking in the ice and snow for miles to get to the game and I knew that none of my friends had their driver’s learner permits. This meant having to ask my father to drive us there and pick us up after the game because my mother didn’t drive.

This predicament of mine was very humorous for my younger brother, who laughed at my having to resort to asking my father for a ride for my first date and needled me constantly about it.

Sensing my misery, my father agreed to take us to the basketball game at Roth Junior High School and pick us up afterward. Since I did not receive an allowance growing up, he also gave me yardwork chores to do after school so I’d have money that I could buy her popcorn and a Coke.

Picking up on cues from my brother, about halfway through the week my father also joked that he was going to allow my brother to ride with us when we drove over on Friday night to pick up Paula for our date.

This made me highly nervous and mad. I didn’t appreciate being the source of amusement for my father and brother when I was already anticipating everything wrong that could happen on my first date.

But focusing on the JV basketball players and their season statistics helped me. I wanted to impress Paula with my knowledge of the game and the ability to rattle off to her that Jim Graney was averaging 12.6 points per game or that Dave Pfeffer was leading the team in rebounding with 9 per game.

Right up until it was time to leave to pick up my date, my brother insisted he was going along for the ride to Roth Junior High School. At the last minute, my father said no, easing my mind.

We found Paula’s house and my father drove us to the school. Before pulling away from the front entrance, he handed me a quarter and told me to call him when the game ended to pick us up.

I had an awesome time at the game with Paula and liked the fact that she was into basketball as much as I was. She appeared to appreciate that I had memorized some statistics too. The game was over, and the crowd was exiting the building.

Finding the pay phone, I dropped in the quarter and received 15 cents change as the phone call itself was only a dime. To my astonishment, my father didn’t answer the phone. I tried again 15 minutes later and again he didn’t answer.

The school janitor came along and told us he was locking up for the evening and going home. With 5 cents left in my pocket, I had to ask Paula for a nickel to make another phone call home to my father. Once again, he didn’t answer.

We sat on a bench outside the gymnasium, and it began to snow. It was light at first, and then started to get heavier. After about 20 minutes of sitting there in the snow, we noticed headlights approaching and it was my father. Cold, tired, and embarrassed, none of us said a word as we drove Paula home. On the way back to our house, I asked my father why he didn’t answer my phone calls and he told me he had fallen asleep reading the newspaper and didn’t hear the telephone.

The following Monday I saw Paula in the hallway and apologized for my father falling asleep. I asked her if she’d like to go out again sometime to make up for this debacle.

She said no and mentioned that the reason she accepted the date in the first place was because she thought I had my driver’s license.

The next time that I asked a girl out on a date, I made sure that I could drive.

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