I hung my head as a wave of remorse and embarrassment sent super-heated shivers down my spine. I hadn’t put one bit of thought into my actions, just walked to him with one goal: make my friends stop.
The group didn’t say a word when I rejoined them, but each one smiled in turn. What did they know that I didn’t? I mentally pounded my head with my fists. I didn’t want to look any more insane than I already did.
I’m an invisible wall flower, I wanted to say. I don’t just walk up to boys and talk to them.
“Aimee?” His voice sent a vibration through me, like a harp plucked one too many times.
I trembled. My eyes grew wide as my friends pushed my shoulders so I would face him. I tried to smile, to hide behind my insecurities on that fateful day, August 3, 1988.
I just didn’t have to.
Three weeks later, on the night of the football team’s season opener, our band played its first gig, marched its first set and celebrated the team’s win. Riddled with an anxiety that rivaled the pressure to say ‘hi’, I’d been promised, by the same friends, that he’d find the courage to take the next step.
Our days up to that point had consisted of short drives up the school’s parking lot to return my equipment, trips to the quickie-mart for sodas on break or shared ice cream socials with fellow musicians. We’d never been alone. His car, packed with four of us or at least one or two, had become known for its round-trips around the school.
I stood at the band room door and collected plumes from each of my band-mates’ hats. One by one they handed them to me, and I combed the soft silky feathers down, stuffed them one by one into their storage cylinders.
He milled about with friends.
I stacked and stored.
I tapped my foot and swept.
He killed time with others.
I’d all but given up, prepared to find my parents and sulk in the backseat of our car on the way home.
When he turned to me, his crystal blue eyes met mine, and I’d prepared to say goodnight.
“You going to Pizza Hut with anyone?” he asked.
“No.” My entire body shook. I lowered my eyes.
Would he ask me to go with him? Would I be invited to the post-game hang out without a gaggle of my friends in tow or just with him?
“Then you’re going with me.” The snaps on his trumpet case clicked twice as he secured his instrument.
There’d been no question. I’d given no answer.
“You have to meet my parents first.” I’d have begged if I’d had to, but fate stood on my side. My mother dated a senior her freshman year and for four years afterward … until she’d met my father.
Dad asked two simple questions, “Do you drink?” and “Do you speed?”. The answers had been ‘no’ to both and I, a tiny, dark-haired, self-conscious, fourteen year old, freshman girl had negotiated a curfew of 11:52 p.m. on August 26, 1988.
I slid into the front seat of his metallic blue Toyota Celica. The smile on my face reflected my new found status. I was no longer the girl who hung on his every move, followed him like a young puppy and hoped with an intensity beyond words that the relationship would move forward.
Pick one, they’d said.
Lucky for me, he chose me too.
Read the epilogue on October 15th!