Wildwood Daze – Summer of 1979 – Taking Steps

Snappy sets up the meeting with the guitar player. I’m at my usual spot, playing the Flash pinball machine at Botto’s arcade. This guy walks in and introduces himself. He’s only 14 years old but looks older than me. I’ve always had a baby face.

Jim Gloria is the lead guitarist in a band with some other guys he knows from the neighborhood. The one guy who formed the band is named Tom Danning. I think the bass player is a kid named Raman Osadchuk. Tom is the major force in the band. He’s super into the Beatles and thinks he’s the second coming of Paul McCartney. I’m sure that’s annoying. Jim is looking to do something else, and was told by Snappy about me.

“He described you as this older guy who writes his own songs. But you look younger than me!”

“Yea, you’re right. So what kind of music are you into?”

“I like the Beatles but I also like Clapton, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Hendrix, The Stones, Blues…stuff like that.”

“What about the heavier stuff like Zeppelin, Sabbath, and Aerosmith?”

“Yea, that’s all great too, man.”

Jim and I agree to start to jam together.

I go off to work at the restaurant. I decided to put aside my fear and take a big step. Back then my anxiety controlled me. I was always nervous about things. Stuff most people wouldn’t give a second thought to doing and may even find enjoyable caused me great stress. Sometimes even nausea. It’s a horrible feeling and a terrible way to live. People that don’t have it simply don’t get it. They can’t understand why you’re not able to just go and do some things.

But the key to crushing your anxiety is one of two ways. Rage dissipates fear. That’s never good. That’s my father. Not me. The best was to conquer anxiety is keep doing things that scare you. I don’t care how many times you have to do them and if you puke every time. Just keep going. It’s the only way. It’ll take years but if you keep at it you’ll eventually train and rewire your brain not to panic every time you have to do something out of the ordinary.

I walk through the kitchen and start my shift. I see sweet Therese and she of course looks amazing. I mean, she’s dressed like a waitress but she looks hot.

Later in the evening, I’m busing a table of hers and she’s collecting the tip from the table.

“Therese. Can I ask you something?”

“Sure. What’s up?”

“Would you like to go out to the movies with me sometime?”

“Sure! Let’s go Sunday when we’re both off.”

“Umm…okay. I’ll see what’s playing and you can pick.”

“Sounds good.” She smiled and walked away.

 

Holy shit! I just got a date with Therese! My ultimate queen! One of the hottest girls I know and the one I love the most! This is incredible! I can’t believe that this is happening. I asked her out and she said yes! It’s equivalent to me getting a date with a supermodel today!

Of course I’m going to have a nervous breakdown before I take her out.

I walk into the kitchen and there’s our local womanizer and part-time dishwasher Chickie Bradley. His landlord once accused he and his brother Dave of running a whorehouse out of his apartment. I’m emptying my bus pan and Therese walks in.

“Hey there Therese.”

“Chickie.”

“Hey, we should go out sometime!”

I’m thinking, fuck! This guy hits everything that moves. This guy is like a professional Lothario. But then Therese replies.

“Chickie Bradley…I wouldn’t go out with you if you were the last man on Earth!”

Then she turns to me, gives me a knowing smile, and walks back out into the dining room.

“Tough break there Chick.”

“Aww, she’s probably a prude anyway. Not worth my time.”

“Yea…”

I smile ear to ear as I walk out of the kitchen carrying my bus pan.

 

Therese and I did go out on a date to the movies that following Sunday. Of course I was and anxiety ridden mess leading up to said date. I remember walking up to her house up at 5th and New Jersey Ave. that warm August night. I looked at my feet and carved in the cement was the name ‘Therese’. I like that my love’s name was immortalized in stone.

I gave her a couple of movie choices and she chose the film, National Lampoon’s Animal House. It was a brilliant choice because that’s one of the funniest films ever made. She loved it and I was just happy to be sitting beside her.

After the movie I walked her home. “Well I guess this is goodnight.”

“Thank you for taking me out tonight, Chaz.”

“The pleasure was all mine, Therese.”

I take her hands in mine and give her one sweet kiss.

I wait until she gets inside her house before I make the short trek home.

I think I floated all the way back to my house, because I don’t remember my feet ever touching the ground.

 

 

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Author: phicklephilly

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3 thoughts on “Wildwood Daze – Summer of 1979 – Taking Steps”

  1. I have to say that back then, I would have never figured you to be anxious or apprehensive in any way. To me, you always seemed to be laid-back and carefree. I was the anxious mess. I remember you telling me on a few occasions to “throw caution to the wind.”

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