Sunday, October 28, 2018

The Great Double Date

It would be a risk, I know. But heck -- what are friends for? What could possibly go wrong? Surely things couldn't get too messed up.

In high school, one of my best friends was a somewhat awkward guy. His family had emigrated from Czechoslovakia due to the political climate at that time. My friend, whom we nicknamed Spud (among other things), was extremely bright and was sort of an evil genius who, I thought, had the possibility to rule the world. However, he wasn't exactly a ladies man and stumbled socially. We lived in west suburban Chicago, where a car was necessary to get around. Spud didn't drive.

During our senior year, Spud developed this longing for a sophomore named Sherry. Unfortunately, with no wheels, how was he to take her out on a date? If only he had a friend who was dating one of Sherry's friends ...

One of Sherry's friends was a cute girl named Beth. I'm not sure how it started, but I was flirting with Beth and made a "date" to wrestle her in her front yard. Yes - you read that right - wrestle her. Now Beth was no skinny little girl. She gave me a run for my money in the match. And I've got to tell you, when is having a wrestling match with a cute girl not going to be fun? As it was, Beth had a boyfriend, a year older than me, who was finishing his freshman year at Michigan State. I was guessing that they had broken up or had some type of arrangement. Good for me.

Since I had access to a vehicle, Spud begged me to ask Beth out on a real date and double with him and Sherry. I had an idea that a shit show was to follow, but he was one of my best friends and needed a steady date other than Rosie Palms, so I agreed. The plan for date night was to cruise around a bit while it was still light outside, then head to the local drive-in movie. Solid plan. What could go wrong?

I picked up Spud and gave him a bunch of admonitions about messing stuff up since this was essentially his first date. Sherry's mom had dropped her off at Beth's house to make everything easier for the night. Good start.

I drove to Sherry's house and went up to the door to get the girls. They came out all giggly and ran to the car. Spud had been riding shotgun on the trip there, naturally, and didn't get out of the front seat fast enough. Both girls dove into the back seat. Fantastic! The shit show had begun!

We started to cruise around the area -- guys in front, girls in back -- and were joking around. I don't remember exactly what happened, but somehow things took a sudden turn the wrong way. They asked us where we were going, and we asked if they had suggestions. I don't remember which things they suggested, but when I told them the plan was to go to the drive-in movie, the response I got was a steely "NO." Ut oh - what now? The conversation turned a little ugly and I ended up inviting them to leave the car if they didn't like it. They asked to be let out and I did so in a local apartment area. I started to drive away and figured that, as messed up as things got, what was the one variable different from this date and my other successful dates? The answer: Spud! I started giving him crap, especially for not moving into the back seat before the girls got in the car. I mean really - what are good friends for?

At that point I decided to do what I thought was best -- calm down, go back and get the girls, take them back home and call it an early night. I drove back where we let the girls off and told them that I would drive them back home. They responded with middle finger salutes and the profanity that goes with those salutes. What to do now?

I was concerned because the girls were a couple of years younger than us and I felt like we were responsible for them. I decided to head to Beth's house and talk to her mom. I apologized, told her that things just went wrong and that I tried to bring the girls back but they refused. I wanted to let her know that I would no longer be responsible for them. She thanked me, and Spud and I left.

Beth's mom apparently was really pissed. I don't know what other stuff might have factored in here, but Beth's mom blamed it all on Sherry's influence on Beth, drove out in her car to pick them up, and get this -- made Beth call me to apologize and basically beg me to take her out again! Now you have to understand -- parents of girls I dated liked me. I was in sports and was the student body president and other #CleanLiving stuff. But of course, I am sure that Beth was humiliated to make that call. Yes -- that night I was certainly on the great double date of my life!

I took Beth out one more time. I'm sure she only went out with me to appease her mom. A year or two later I ran into Beth's Michigan State boyfriend. He just saw me and laughed at me. Lord knows what story he was told. He later married Beth and, as far as I know, is still alive and married to her.

Sherry disappeared off the face of the earth. Perhaps she moved away. I was off to college three months after the double date and have no idea what happened to her.

Spud's life changed shortly thereafter. He started smoking weed that summer while visiting the University of Illinois and likely got involved with other drugs which radically changed his personality and life. The guy with the brilliant mind flunked out of college shortly thereafter. I stayed friends with him for a few years afterward, but we essentially had little in common anymore. I think he lives somewhere in the Pacific Northwest.

lightning's dating life got much better, and he disappointed women across the world when he married 12 years after the double date. He remains married today and can often be found donking off money in poker rooms in Las Vegas and the Midwest.

** From The lightning Chronicles, a soon-to-be-published compilation of short stories and essays. A motion picture is scheduled for release in 2022.


Blogger Lester said...

"My girlfriend cannot wrestle very well but you should see her box..."

2:57 PM  
Blogger Ace said...

Great story! My brother had a similar friend in middle school. The guy immigrated from Russia and in high school wrong crowd and weed changed him.

11:08 PM  
Blogger norm said...

Is that Spud?

5:13 PM  
Blogger lightning36 said...

Norm - no - that's me. And I was the good looking one! At least in the 1970's that was an okay look.

8:26 AM  

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