I walk down 8th street to Ocean Ave. and stroll the two blocks to the motel. I go and knock on their motel room door. I can see it in my mind exactly. I can see it’s location and its color and the length of translucent jalousies windows that are open to let air into the room.
Heart pounding. The whole family is there and they invite me in. They were super nice and that put me at ease. They didn’t make me feel like, “What are your intentions with my daughter?”
So off we went. Terri looked beautiful. She had a little white flouncy top, bare arms, and white shorts with sneakers. Cute as a button.
Even in the short time we had been chatting, (Just mornings at the motel) I felt that we had created a bond. We were walking along the boardwalk and it was still light out. The boardwalk was awash with people and sounds. Hawkers at their games of chance, the sights and smells of sweet and fried food, and the salty air from the sea. The music and the roar of the rollercoasters. The soundtrack is music coming from a nearby carousel. (Which may be the happiest music on earth)
I’m looking at her lovely profile as she walks beside me. I can’t believe we are actually out together on a date here in this seaside wonderland. I tell her there’s a bobby pin in her hair. She quickly removes it. I hope she wasn’t embarrassed but maybe she was nervous getting ready for our date just like me!
We get to the theater and I of course buy the tickets. I was all about chivalry and being a gentleman even back then. It’s who I was and how I was raised. My dad had slipped me a $20 before I left that day, just to make sure I was covered financially for the date! I had plenty of money on me anyway. (Thanks dad!) I had a week’s pay on me, ($40!) I had to be prepared for anything!
The words, Star Wars is emblazoned on the marquee over the doors of the place.
We go into the cool air conditioned theater. The smell of buttery popcorn and sweets fill the air. We feel sticky detritus under our feet as we find our seats. I sit on her right. She looks lovely. She tucks a lock of her hair behind her ear and I see she’s wearing tiny gold earrings.
The lights go down and the film begins. I can’t believe I’m actually on a date with a pretty girl who likes me and I’m seeing Star Wars again! This can’t miss!
I have an old friend that was never good at talking to girls. He’s a dear friend and grew into a great man and we’re friends today, but back then he just couldn’t get it together when it came to talking to the fairer sex. I told him to just take her to the movies! That’s two hours where you don’t have to say or do a thing and something else is entertaining her so you don’t have to.
He took all of his dates back then to movies after that. All of them. Even his future wife!
I’m loving the movie all over again. It’s making me calm down a bit because I’m focused on the wonder of the film. I don’t know when it actually happened but I started holding hands with her! I felt her soft dainty girl hand in mine. I even did the little gentle thumb rub. It was so great.
After the movie we walked home on the boardwalk again. It was dark now and the amusements, and games were all in full swing. All the sights, smells and sounds come rushing back to me now forty years later.
We get back to the motel, and she checks in with her parents to show that she has in fact not been murdered by the pool boy. We then sit in two of the chairs that are outside of an empty room. But obviously not the ones in front of her family’s room. We sat in a pair of seats all the way down at the end in front of a vacant room where we could barely be seen.
So we’re giggling and then it happens.
It’s innocent and beautiful.
Sweet and soft.
I can still remember the perfume she was wearing. It was called Babe. A perfect scent for such a sweet girl. My heart was melting like a pad of butter in a pan of love.
But my curfew was approaching, and I told her I would run home and ask if I could stay out a little longer with her. But if I didn’t come back I would see her tomorrow. (No such thing as the internet or cell phones back then.) So I RUN the two blocks back to my house and tell my dad my dilemma. He sends me back out and gives me another hour.
Magic! (Thank you, dad!)
My father spent his summers in Wildwood as a youth so he knew that this was a critical moment in a boy’s life.
So I get back to Terri in under 5 minutes round trip. We’re sitting there and chatting and talking about music and stuff. There is some more smooching and hand holding. It’s a lovely gentle moment in my young life.
The euphoria of the night with her was all like a dream. I remember her softly singing these lyrics:
“If I leave here tomorrow, will you still remember me…”
Time flies when you’re having fun and the hour blazes by like a New York minute. I bid my sweet “Juliet” adieu and I’m off like a Montague.
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