Thursday, November 17, 2005

I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight

While reading Windfall Woman's recent posts, her tribute to the film The Sound of Music, took me down memory lane. This movie is to date the only movie opening that I've ever attended. It is also the first 'real' date I'd ever had.
....Before that evening, all of my previous dates were of the "I'll meet you at the malt shop after school" variety. That date was the real thing, a real date, where I actually picked up a girl at her house and met her parents. It was the first time that I had ever been "interrogated."

If I had told her that I loved her,
She would've stayed till who knows when,
But I guess she couldn't understand it
When I said " I want to be your friend."

I never knew that the opening of a movie was such a big deal. Chicago, like other major cities across the country, certainly made a big deal of it! There was some kind of an affair in session involving VIPs, but my date and I were herded through a side entrance along with the other ordinary patrons.

....Because a friend would never doubt you
....Or ever put you uptight
And now I wonder what she's doing tonight.

We had a wonderful evening. We both enjoyed the movie. It was a great first date. Although we hit it off rather well, there were those nervous, awkward moments on her porch; while I was wondering if I should try to kiss her and she wondering if she should allow me that trespass. The decision on her part was made easy when the porch light snapped on.

Oh yes I wonder
What she's doing tonight.
Ohoh I wonder what she's doing

Melody (her real name) and I had already been seeing each other on campus. Both of us were Frosh at Aurora College in Aurora, Illinois about 40 miles west of Chicago. We had been sitting together at lunch, between classes, and when ever we had the chance. There was an instant attraction when we first met at the student union my very first day at the school only hours after I had gotten off the train from Chicago. Twelve hours earlier I had boarded another train in Charleston, W.Va., for the train ride that took me out of the Mountain State for the very first time. Melody was an off-campus student, living only ten minutes away by car.

We were so close, we should've been closer,
And it's making me so sad,
But I tell myself I didn't lose her
Because you can't lose a friend you never had.

Fate can play some cruel and unexpected tricks sometimes. I was on a sponsored scholarship to play basketball. I was a good high school cager, but because of my 5-foot-10, 140 pound frame, no big-time college scouts were knocking on my door. The next day after the night with Melody, was one of those "Pep-rally-meet-your-team" gatherings at the gym. It was my first meeting with those who'd be my team mates, the cheer leaders, and an audience in the stands. The reverence doled out to the team was not something I was familiar with at all. I might have been a good high school player, but we were never treated like celebrities.

(Come on now.)
Because a friend won't say it's over
And go out just for spite.
And now I wonder what she's doing tonight.

When the cheer leaders "paired up" with us basketball players after the rally for a "traditional party," I found myself whisked away without getting to speak to Melody who was in the stands with her best friend to whom she was going to introduce to me. I knew nothing about being a college "jock" before that day. I was at the same time shocked, flattered, and enamored to learn that I had been chosen by Pam, the cheer leader to be her "steady date" starting that night at the party. Apparently they had some sort of exclusive club wherein jocks dated cheer leaders and vice versa. I must admit that I remained enamored for the night. She certainly knew how to reward " enamored."

Oh yes I wonder
What she's doing tonight
OhOh I wonder what she's doing

The next few days were frustrating as Melody was becoming more and more too busy to meet like we had been doing before. I wasn't stupid, I knew why she had become aloof. All I wanted was at least a chance to apologize and to explain about the traditional party. When I saw her hand-in-hand with another guy one evening, I was crushed. I really liked Melody. Yes, Pam was quite attractive, more so than Melody, but she wasn't Melody.
....It was all over campus that Pam and I were an item. There was even a picture of us on the front page of the school paper with the caption, "Cheer Leader and Cager Inseparable." That part of me ruled by my libido reveled in the exposure. That same part of me also reveled in my private moments with Pam. She could do a lot more than shake pompons.
....Remember those cruel and unexpected tricks that fate sometimes plays? It was the warmups before the first basketball game of the season. We were playing a highly ranked Chicago Loyola team that night, that night that changed my life from then on. I had just gone up for a my fist warmup layup. When I first landed on the side of my foot there was no pain. It was only as I was running back to end of the line that I felt something pop. Back in the dressing room, I learned that I was going to miss much more than the game that night. I was out for the season!

(All right, Bobby)
Because a friend will always be there
If you're wrong or if you're right
And now I wonder what she's doing tonight.

One fractured ankle and some torn tendons will eventually heal, but a heart can suffer a lifetime. Although I was able to get around at first on crutches and later with a cane, my college life became a blur. I began to cut classes and didn't study much. You see, one day I received two letters which had been sent to my dormitory room. One was from Pam. The other was from Melody! It was not what I had hoped. She was sorry that I got hurt and couldn't play ball. She wished me well and hoped we would remain friends. It was signed, Melody. I was very curious why Pam sent me a letter. We had been together just the night before in her dorm room. It was eerie, but her letter was nearly a copy of the one from Melody. She too was sorry I couldn't play ball. She also wished me well. The line of all lines read: "I'll never forget our times together, but I am sure we will always be friends." You see, since I was an ex-jock, I was no longer elleigible to date a cheer leader, and apparently the vice versa was also true.

Oh yes I wonder
What she's doing tonight
OhOh I wonder what she's doing

I never saw or spoke to either one of them again. A week later I received another letter. You have to realize that this was 1967, the Vietnam Era. It seems that my performance with my studies had suddenly changed my draft status. On my birthday, the day I turned 18, Uncle Sam wrote to me just to say "Greetings."
....I served my military obligation with 4 years in the Navy. For all intensive purpose, I never returned to my West Virginia roots, settling in the Boston area. That ankle still acts from time to time, sometimes "sending" me back to Aurora to wonder how things might have been. More likely than not, the mere mention of "The Sound Of Music," will resurrect memories of Melody, the one that got away, the one I screwed up.
....There is a guaranteed way to really get me to think about what might have been; just play a certain song by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart.

Oh yes I wonder
What she's doing tonight
OhOh I wonder what she's doing

Sha la la la la la li...........



OldHorsetailSnake said...

A beautiful piece, Mike. And I should know -- I almost wrote one, once.

Megan said...

I stopped by to say thanks for visiting today, and now you've got me teary-eyed. I had a college love that was the one that got away—but I was the one who opened that door.

I bet Melody still thinks about you once in while. Maybe when she watches "The Sound of Music." ;)

Jewaira said...

Nicely written; but I would be happy to leave those two girls in my box of good memories ;) I suppose we always wonder what could have happened had we acted differently or taken a different path. In retrospect, things always seem somewhat clearer than when we are living life.

jipzeecab said...

You never realize how lucky you've been in love until you read a piece like this one...seriously what a well stated, sensitive slice of your life you've shared with the world.