Sunday, May 15, 2016

REMINISCING: The Dating Life

Dating. We’ve all lived through those horrors. Some of us haven’t done it in a very long time. Some of us are still playing that game. I very clearly remember my first date. How about any of you? Was that first date with the boy or girl of your dreams everything you thought it would be? I’m sure the girl who was blessed with my presence on that fateful day would most likely rather forget it, if she hasn’t already. Thinking on that now that I’ve written that sentence, I have no doubt she forgot about it two minutes after she got home. I guess I just have a way about me.

All I can say, looking back from 42 to those long ago days of teenage romance angst, is I sure am glad I don’t have to go through that anymore. Wendy and I have been together since we were both 17. Twenty-five years later, we’re still going strong. That’s not to say I didn’t have a lot of girlfriends when I was in junior high and high school. I sure did. Most of them didn’t know it, though.

In all seriousness, my first date was in 1986. I have no idea who I went with, but I am very sure of the date. How can I know with such certainty of when I went on my first date even while I can’t remember that lucky girl’s name? It’s likely not for any of the reasons you think. It’s because I know what movie we went to see. We saw Disney’s “Song of the South.”

Disney studios re-released their iconic, yet overtly racist, film to celebrate the 40th anniversary of its original release combined with the promotion of the log flume ride, Splash Mountain. Our own Historic Palace Theater was one of the places that showed the film during its anniversary release. After singing the songs with my grandmother, I decided that I wanted to see the movie. Since there was a girl I liked, I figured I could see it with her. To my surprise and delight she said yes.

I can’t quite remember if I had ever been to the Palace before seeing “Song of the South,” but I can assure you, it was the first time I ever sat in the balcony. The balcony was rarely open in the ensuing years, but apparently management expected a large turnout for the flick. Of course, I headed right to the balcony. I was not going to pass up that opportunity.

Generally, when you took a girl up to the dark balcony, the movie was the last thing on your mind. I’m not sure what my date was expecting, but by virtue of the fact that we never went out again, I’m guessing my obsession with watching the movie was not what she was thinking. I was fixated on the movie, and ignored my date. Sure I bought her popcorn and a drink, but that was probably the only attention I gave her that afternoon.
Wendy and I at our wedding in 1997.

Going to see “Song of the South” was not my only faux pas in my attempts to land dates. One time when I was staying at my grandmother’s house in Lyndonville, I noticed that there was a pretty cute girl who had moved in across the street. I was determined to meet her. So, how did I break the ice? I hid in the bushes and threw water balloons at her and her group of friends. That was a heck of a first impression.

Not all my dating adventures were of this goofy, self-destructive style. Occasionally, I was actually successful without being a complete idiot. When I first met the girl who would become my wife, I saw her walking through the “employees” door at Hills in the Lockport Mall. I was there with a friend who was collecting his paycheck. When I saw Wendy, I asked for an application. I quit a pretty good job in order to work with her. Of course, when she first met me, she really wanted nothing to do with me. I was too weird. Eventually I wore her down, and we’ve been together for the last 25 years with four lovely daughters to add to our happiness.
At one of our dates at the Palace

I’m sure we’ve all had those dates that we’d much rather forget. I’ve written about a couple here, but I have no issue with telling you those stories. It’s funny when you look back at how clumsy and awkward we were when we trying to find ourselves. And how much those clumsy and awkward aspects seemed to amplify when attempting to deal with members of the opposite sex. If only I had the confidence in myself then that I have now… It’s true that youth is wasted on the youth.

Next Week: Weekend Excursions

Craig Bacon still has date nights with his wife. They don’t come often enough, but it’s hard to find someone to take on four boisterous Bacon Bits for the evening.