Figuring out our relationship with the opposite sex is a lifelong challenge. I was in my late forties when I met my wife Peggy and finally got it right… from my perspective. Twenty years later I suspect Peggy still considers me a work in progress. I know her sister Jane does.
As a friend, co-worker and sometimes boss, Jane had been training me for 15 years when Peggy appeared on the scene to take over. Jane also assured me that their mother, Helen, was prepared to step in if necessary. I am probably lucky that Grandmother Honey had already passed on. Today, my daughter Tasha has joined the fray.
I’ve never met a more formidable group of women and I am not sure how I ended up as a community project. (“Okay, whose turn is it today to civilize Curt?) But my guess is I got lucky. My family and friends agree.
I am convinced that Lust, Love and Like are the key ingredients to a happy relationship. I’d throw in respect if it started with an L. Lust is around to light the fire and keep it lit. It lurks deep down in our brain as a primitive urge to assure that little people are born, which is a messy, painful process that needs all of the encouragement it can get.
Love is the deep bonding that comes along to guarantee the little ones are raised and survive their early teenage years. It’s also helpful in encouraging Daddy to hang around and help with the process. It may even last a lifetime so you have someone to talk to when you get old and grouchy.
But for me, like is the crème de la crème, the frosting on the cake. The partner you lust after and love can also be your friend, even your best friend as is the case with Peggy.
So, where was she 60 years ago? My interest in girls started early.
The long-legged blond Carol Butts caught my attention in the third grade; she could outrun me. Red headed Judy Hart became my passion in the fifth grade, as she did all of the other boys in our combined fourth and fifth grade class. Judy obligingly cut off lockets of her hair and gave one to each boy. I’m surprised she had any hair left. It was the Kludt twins that occupied my seventh grade year and the raven haired, dark-eyed Ann Pierce who I fell for in the eighth grade.
It’s in high school when relationships take on a more serious, urgent tone however.
I blogged about my disastrous freshman year last week. Things started improving my sophomore year. I ditched my thick glasses for contact lenses and came back to school buff and tan from a summer of working in the pear orchards. A few girls even provided a wiggle or two to see if anyone was home. There was.
More importantly, I had my first date.
Paula Griggs called me. Her mother was obviously encouraging the process. The date involved Mom, Boyfriend, Paula and I going out to dinner in the small town of Sutter Creek, about twenty miles away from Diamond Springs over California’s curvy Highway 49.
After we filled up on Italian food, Mom and Boyfriend promptly climbed in the back and suggested I drive home.
“Um,” I noted nervously, “I only have a learner’s permit.”
“That’s okay, it will be good practice,” Mom stated before I could add that I had obtained the permit the week before.
Paula, meanwhile, was waiting for me to open the door for her on the passenger side of the car. She gave me an encouraging smile and my options dropped to zero. Any further hesitation would appear wimpy.
After doing the gentlemanly thing for Paula, I dutifully climbed into the driver’s seat and miraculously found the keyhole and lights. Minimal gear grinding got us out of town and I breathed an audible sigh of relief.
We had made it just past Plymouth when I ran over the skunk. Its response was to become a virtuoso of glandular activity.
“Oh, don’t worry about it,” Boyfriend said as the first powerful whiffs of eau de skunk came blasting through the air vents, “it happens all of the time.”
“Yeah, sure,” I mumbled to myself through tongue-biting teeth, “young men always run down skunks on first dates, especially first dates with Mom and Boyfriend along.”
Fortunately I made it home without further incident. As for the date, I can definitely say that is was memorable.
I previously posted the story on Paula several months ago. This blog is part of a series in celebration of the 50th High School Reunion of the Class of 1961 of El Dorado Union High School in Placerville California. Next up: I Discover True Love… or Not.