Posted by [email protected] on January 23, 2016 at 7:00 PM
“Anyone want to go to the theater tonight?” Angela asked to the guys eating at the lunch table with her.
“I will” was spoken from the far end of the table.
Angela glanced down and saw Gary with his hand up. She smiled. Sean stood up next to Angela as Gary walked closer and said, “This is my Wingman Gary.”
Angela reached out her hand for the introduction and instantly goosebumps rose on more than just her arms.
Hellos were exchanged and Angela offered her phone number to Gary. Opening his wallet, he pulled out a folded white piece of paper and scribbled Angela’s name and phone number down.
“I’ll call you around 5.” He said.
At 5:00, he called and Angela gave him directions to her house. Informing her parents that she would be attending the play with Gary, she awaited him to arrive. Not knowing what kind of car he drove, she watched a Monte Carlo drive slowly down the street, then speed away. She laughed to herself as she remembered the childhood game she played with her friends called MASH.
MASH was a game where you listed the names of four boys you wanted to marry, 4 cars, and 4 different number of children. The letters M, A, S, H was at the top of the page and each represented if you would live in a Mansion, House, Apartment, or Shack. The object of the game was to pick a number and cross out the list. So it you picked the number 3, every third word you would cross out until you only had one left in each category.
Angela always seemed to get the guy with the Monte Carlo, even when the other categories changed. As the Monte Carlo sped away, she saw that childhood game not be a truth teller.
In the Monte Carlo, was Gary. He slowly pulled down the street searching for number 26, and when he saw the house, he recognized it. Panicked and drove away. About two miles up the street was a plaza with a telephone booth. He dropped a quarter into the payphone and pushed seven numbers.
“Hey, Tim. It’s me Gary. You are never going to believe this.” He said into the receiver.
“No, it’s not about hockey. It’s about a job we did two summers ago when we worked for Chemlawn. Do you remember that job we did on Arbor Lane? Remember we had to price out a job to fertilizer the brown house with the flag pole.”
Tim remembered it well. They were winding the chemical hose back into the truck when a Cadillac stopped and tooted its horn at them. Gary turned to face a big guy in a business suit. He introduced himself as Mr. Shuman and said, “Hey guys, you think you can give me an estimate for my lawn while you are on the street?”
Gary was merely working a summer job and didn’t have authority to give estimates so he asked Tim. Tim agreed and Mr. Shuman pointed to the brown house with the American Flag waving in the summer breeze.
“We will head over now.” Tim said. As Tim was writing up an estimate, a brown hair girl walked out of the house and began to load some bags into her blue SUV. Gary couldn’t take her eyes off her. Elbowing Tim, Gary said, “That is the kind of girl I want to marry.” Tim smirked and said, “Here, go talk to her and bring her this estimate.” He handed Gary the form and a business card.
Gary walked up the driveway startling the girl in the pin striped jean dress. “Excuse me.” he said.
“Yes.” Gary’s heart fluttered when she looked at him.
“Hi, Mr. Shuman asked us to drop off an estimate.” He held the paper out to her.
“Uh, okay, he is inside.” The girl said.
“Oh, okay, I can bring it to the door. Uh, you look nice. Are you going to work?” Gary asked.
The girl smiled and said, “Thank you. And Yes.”
Gary’s nerves took over as he said, “Well have a nice day.”
“You too.” She said as she got into her truck and drove away.
When Gary got back to the chemical truck, Tim said, “So did you get her number?”
Gary shook his head with embarrassment.
“Well what is her name?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t get that far in a conversation.”
Tim called him so derogatory names and let him know he lost his shot with that girl.
Leaning into the phone booth, Gary whispered into the phone “Tim, I’m about to go out with that girl tonight?’
“No way, how did you score that?” Tim replied.
“I didn’t know it was her, she asked me out and well I just drove to pick her up, and freaked out.”
Tim laughed and said, “Things happen for a reason. Have fun.”
Gary headed back to Arbor Lane as he balanced his excitement and his nerves. Ringing the doorbell, he wished he dressed up more, but Angela has said it was a casual play. They were headed to StageWest, a local theater in West Springfield. Her brother had created the scenery for the play and she wanted to support him. She didn’t even know what the play was called.
That didn’t matter to Gary, he just wanted to know more about the girl at the end of the lunch table, who was also in his criminal Justice class. He had exchanged looks with her half a dozen times and was thankful for the opportunity to be going out with her tonight.
Angela opened the door. Behind her was Mr. Shuman. Gary instantly recognized him. Angela introduced him, “Dad, this is Gary, Gary, this is my father.” Mr. Shuman reached his hand out and said, “Nice to meet you Brad.”
Angela instantly corrected him, “Dad his name is Gary.” Mr. Shuman said, “He looks like a Brad to me, I’m calling him Bard.”
Gary nodded and said, “Works for me.”
As Angela walked to Gary’s car, she noticed it was a Monte Carlo. She smiled as Gary opened the door for her.
At the theater, Gary had no idea what he was in store for. Angela only had told him she was going to support her brother’s engineering project. On the way to the theater, she told him how her Aunt had been involved with the theater and got her brother PJ a summer job building sets. She picked up her tickets at the will call window. The play was called SUBJECT TO CHANGE. Their tickets were for the second row center stage, middle seats.
Angela led the way down the stairs to the second row. It was filled except for the two empty seats in the middle. Gary realized he would have to say excuse me a zillion times to get to them but what he didn’t know was that everyone in that row was Angela’s family. It wasn’t only Angela supporting her brother for that evening’s performance, but as they moved their way to their seat, Angela introduced him to everyone.
“Everyone this is Gary, Gary this is my Grandmother, my aunt Carol, My aunt Claire, My mother, my Aunt Louise, and well, Gary began to block out the names as he was overwhelmed that this date was so chaperoned.
At the end of the play, Gary asked Angela if she would like to get a bite to eat. They headed a mile down the street to Papa Gino’s where Gary ordered 2 cheese slices and 2 sodas. They sat in the third booth in the window and the conversation flowed as if they had always known each other.
Angela listened to him talk of his love of hockey and she noticed how soulful his eyes were. There was a sparkle which illuminated his beautiful brown eyes. She began to daydream about reaching to hold his hand but she feared seeming to be too forward.
Gary asked her questions about what it was like to teach dance, and was fascinated to know she had taught at the studio down the street from him. They shared stories of Angelo’s Fruit Market and attending catholic school. Angela knew a lot about travel hockey, sharing her brothers played and she had been the sister on the bus for many years.
They discussed how each of them came to attend Western New England College, and where they worked on campus.
Gary had a work study program as part of a hockey scholarship for the school. Angela worked for the Dean as an Ambassador for the school and held a 12 hour job in the schools event planning office.
The night lasted only two more hours, but a lifetime was shared. Gary drove her home, walked her to the door and asked if she would like to go out again. Angela said smiled and said yes. Gary walked away beaming inside, and not seeing the disappointment in Angela’s face that he hadn’t even tried to kiss her goodnight.
“What a gentleman.” Thought Angela, but secretly she wanted to know what those lips tasted like. The next few days many hours of phone conversations were kept vigil through the nights. Gary finally made plans for another date. A double date with Sean and his girlfriend. A hockey game.
Sean drove and the four went to the Hartford Whalers game. Sean’s date made the night memorable as she lit a cigarette in the arena and almost got them tossed out. Not for smoking but for starting a fist fight with the guy who ratted her out.
Gary and Angela rolled their eyes together and bonded over a ridiculous outburst.
At the end of the evening, Gary again walked Angela to the door and left without a kiss. The next day, his teammates asked him about this new girl he was seeing. He told them he didn’t know what was going on. He said, “I think she just wants to be friends.”
Sean asked, “Why do you think that? Have you kissed her?”
Gary shrugged his shoulders and said, “I haven’t had a chance.”
The next day, he went over Angela’s and they studied together, then watched an episode of Seinfeld. At eleven she walked him to the door and he headed to his car feeling like a failure for not having tried to kiss her goodnight. “You are an idiot” he said to himself.
As he inserted his key into his car door to unlock it, he was startled to hear Angela’s voice. “Gary, Gary, wait.” She walked towards him with her pulse racing. “I, I just wanted to say, I had a great time tonight.”
Gary said, “Me too.” Her mind raced at why he wasn’t taking this opportunity to hold her hand or do anything, so she took a leap of faith and leaned in to kiss him.
He kissed her back, and the rest became the reality of today….what he remembers and she remembers.
The first date, the first kiss, the first and only of many adventures they continue to have together…..again and again.
Marriage is a dance, someone has to take the lead. Many thanks to Tim, and Brad for pushing me to be aggressive or Gary would have walked away without ever really giving it a try.
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