MY FIRST REAL GIRLFRIEND
I was very shy around girls in school. I sort-of had a girlfriend in high school. I went over to her house a few times. I think we went to prom together, but I don’t really remember it. I was uncomfortable dancing and did not really know how. In those days, some of the dances were really simple, or, at least, looked simple. I was just uncomfortable. Her mother was one of the high school counsellors. Her father had died but had been a career military officer. I wanted a girlfriend, but just did not know what to do. We held hands a few times, maybe even kissed a few times – but just a peck on the cheek. I was pathetic. I think she finally gave up on me as hopeless.
I worked in the grocery store in those days. I rode my bicycle to high school, and to the grocery store and did Boy Scouts and schoolwork. My father thought I should have gone ahead and started university early, but the schools did not allow it in Norman back then.
I started college the summer after high school. I took an exam and received advanced credit in the beginning college calculus class, so I was able to start directly on the second level calculus class. I knew that I wanted to study science. I was interested in Zoology, but hesitated in declaring that as my major, because that was what Dad had studied. I decided to just work on all the basic course work and not declare a major. In the first year and a half I had finished all the initial courses for and Arts and Science degree. I took the introduction to Zoology course the end of my sophomore year. The professor was an old colleague of Dad’s whom I had known my entire life.
I decided to go ahead and officially declare a major in Zoology. I would also enroll in the OU Biological Station summer program. I was still living at home. I would pay for my tuition, and Mom and Dad would pay for my textbooks – or vice versa. I was still working at the grocery store to earn my share. They had a program available that would make the room and board free for the summer if you would work kitchen staff. Since I had to leave my grocery store job behind, I needed some way to pay my share of my education. It seemed perfect.
The boys on kitchen staff would do all the setting up and clearing of the tables, and all the dishwashing duty for the trays and eating utensils. We had to start work at 4am to be ready to serve breakfast at 6am, because class started at 7 or 7:30. There were two or three girls on kitchen staff that helped the cooks set up the serving line and serve the food.
The single male students stayed in a huge dormitory room above the dining hall. There was a washing machine we could use in the well house nearby. The married students and the professors and their families stayed in apartment type buildings in another area.
Even though I had been living at home, I had been doing all my own laundry for several years in mother’s washer and dryer. At some point in time I made the mistake of washing my tee-shirts and underwear with a red Oklahoma University sweatshirt. It turned my underwear pink. In those days boys only wore white underwear. Some wore tighty-whitey briefs, and some wore boxers, but mostly everyone wore white. Except girls. Girls wore pink underwear. Or so I had been told, but I had never really seen girl underwear in real life. Here I was, with a basket of pink underwear, living with 40 or 50 other guys in a big huge room. I was summer, so most of us slept in our underwear. Pink underwear in that huge room with all the guys. Little did I know it, but my life was about to change forever.
So, I was out in the well house, waiting for the washing machine to finish up re-washing, for the second time, trying to get back to white underwear. There was no dryer, only a clothesline, that I would have to use to dry my pink undies. It was humiliating. I was sitting on the step, when one of the girls from the kitchen staff showed up with a basket of her own laundry. I suppose we had all met in the kitchen during meal service, but I had never even talked to her.
When she saw me there, she started to turn around and leave. I told her my stuff was almost done. I even admitted why I was doing my laundry. She sat down and we started talking.
“You have beautiful hands,” she told me.
“What? You never tell a guy he has beautiful hands.” Especially if he is struggling to not have to wear pink underwear. I was stunned to have a girl just walk up and tell me that. I may have known that she was a high school student. They got the same deal that the university students – free tuition and room and board in exchange for working kitchen staff.
“Well,” she said, “you do. You have long elegant fingers. They are just the opposite of my father’s hands. What do you plan to do after college?”
“I will probably get a doctorate and be a college professor like my father,” I replied.
“Good. That’s a relief. I promised myself I would never marry a preacher or a doctor.”
“WHAT?? Who said anything about getting married??”
“Yes. You and I are going to get married. It will be easier if you just ask me out.”
“Uhh. OK.” I did not know what else to say. She was cute, but not really beautiful or sexy. Her clothes were plain and simple. Younger than my college classmates. I was hooked. I was toast. My life had just changed forever. She was easier to talk to than any other girl I had ever met. She laughed at my jokes.
I don’t remember the first date. The second date was pizza in nearby Madill or Kingston. She had never had pizza before. In those days, pizza came from Pizza Hut. Putt, putt to the Pizza Hut.
After that, we ate every meal together, went on walks around the Biological Station, and down to the lake. I remember very little about the rest of the summer semester, except those things that we did together. She made the dating process easy. I wanted to be with her.
But now I read about it in our novels. Glenda really does write what she knows.