Wednesday, September 07, 2005


   In my senior year, my self-imposed rejection of all social customs came to an end. I asked a girl out on a date. Not such a big deal, but this date was to be with K____, the daughter of the speech teacher, who the most intimidating member of our high school's faculty. Another complicating factor was the fact that I didn't have a driver's license. But I did have a friend who did, a friend from my childhood who had access to a '65 Chevy Bel-Air. But he didn't have a date. In fact I don't think he really liked girls that much. But I talked a sophomore in my Spanish class into going "double" with him, and so the table was set.

   We went to the Tyrone Guthrie theater, the classiest venue in town. A modern French farce, Thieves' Carnival was the play, a bit suggestive but not offensive fare. The performance was a big hit. We all laughed and laughed, and then went out for a bite to eat. At that stage in my development, I could eat five meals a day and remain a near-skeleton. The girls, unbeknownst to me, were already in the constant diet mode, so had little. I chattered away like a marionette on speed, my friend said almost nothing, but we managed to make it through that awkward repast. My friend dropped his date off first and they were out of view (in her back yard) for some time. He finally returned, and as we headed out to drop off my date it started to sprinkle. To pour. The rain was biblical in its presentation. We managed to get to K____'s house in near-zero visibility and K____ and I dashed to the back porch between squalls. We spoke for a second or two, and then her father, my speech teacher and a real bear of a man, opened the door: "And how was the play?" he boomed.

   That was pretty much the end of the date. I don't think my friend ever had another- he remains a bachelor to this day! The girl from Spanish class disappeared from my life, but thankfully, K____ did not. Many years later, I was given the opportunity to transfer some audio tapes onto CDs for K____. They were tapes made by her now deceased father of her family when she was growing up. There was one tape, a tape made when K____ was only three or four years old, where she talked with her father. Her father teased her, she responded, and both of them sang songs and told stories.

   After hearing this tape, I forgave K___'s father for interrupting our date so many years before. To hear the love expressed by this man to his then-little daughter on those tapes made me understand that to him, she was still his little girl, and that he had given up a lot to let her go, even if for only an evening, to some one else.

   It took me 35 years to get that good-night kiss.

   It was worth the wait.

By Professor Batty


Anonymous Anonymous said...

After giving him a lame excuse for a late assignment, K's father told me I should be on the speech team ... I could specialize in storytelling.

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