First Date, and Last
By Bart Vogelzang


It was nearing 7 p.m., and my dad had driven me to Heather’s house. At fourteen, this was my first date, my first dance, indeed, my first social experience. Incredibly shy, I had never gone anywhere with anyone other than my family, but most often I just went places by myself. Long bike rides along the river, long hikes into the barren hills surrounding the town to which we had moved 7 years before, and even tubing in the river by myself, were the norm for me. To be standing outside Heather’s house now, was an anomaly, pure and simple.

I suppose that other schools in other towns have Sadie Hawkins dances too, but I felt that this dance was specifically aimed at destroying me. The school administration had spared no effort to make it clear to every guy that they had to be gracious and accept female requests to attend; and the girls were in a dither of excitement, as they had us guys completely at their mercy. Unlike the other guys though, who had already gone to a dance or two, or even ‘real’ dates, or more, I was floundering in my personal quagmire of inexperienced uncertainty.

My mom and dad had made sure that I followed tradition as they knew it, but since I knew they’d been teens in war-torn Europe, shot at by Nazis for some 4 or 5 years while practically starving to death, I had my doubts as to extent of their dating knowledge. I suspected that most of what they knew actually came from Leave It To Beaver, and Father Knows Best. So, dressed in my finest, I even had a pin-on corsage for Heather.

For weeks now, I’d suspected Heather liked me. We have co-ed dancing classes at school, part of the PE course, and the guys and girls have to learn the different steps, together. Invariably Heather managed to be nearby when the teacher, Mrs. Armanini, would blow her whistle, and shout, “Okay, everyone. Turn to the nearest member of the opposite sex and get ready to learn some steps together.” It didn’t really matter where I tried to hide, Heather’d always manage to spot my 6’2” frame and shock of blond hair and to be next to me at just the right moment. I had been unfortunate enough to get all my height very early in my teens, and while some guys might like this stature, it’s a curse for someone shy, trying to hide. I think I may have actually caused permanent back damage, trying to scrunch down too far into the desks, trying to be unnoticed. Of course it didn’t work, so I had to at least make sure I did all my homework, studied hard enough to have correct answers, and be articulate when called upon by the teachers. Sadly, being articulate escaped me then, and still did as I tried to think of what to say when…or maybe if…I managed to knock on Heather’s door.

Well, the spell, or maybe trance, was broken when dad, hard hearted bastard that he is, honked the horn, leaving me to decide on seeming to be a completely boorish lout by honking for my date, or knocking and making the honk seem to be unrelated, having been done by some passing driver. Being as quick thinking as I normally was, I hesitated just long enough to be proven to be a lout, as Heather opened the door before I knocked. My first date was obviously heading in the right direction, if one wants to go to Hell in a hand basket, as the old expression goes.

“Hi, Bart. You’re right on time. Please, come in and meet my father.” I managed to put one foot in front of the other, whilst thinking, ‘Yeah, team. I hope he won’t notice I just crapped myself.’

“Hi, Heather. I’d love to meet your dad,” were the words I managed to think, whereas what came out of my mouth sounded more like, “Hmmph. K. Lo, sir. We gotta go. My dad’s waiting in the car.” Brilliant repartee indeed. I’m sure Mr. Bevan was totally impressed with me, and his daughter’s choice in boys. HA!

Well, at least I managed to get out of that house alive, and with my date in tow, and get to dad’s car. Finesse, however, seemed to have slipped by me just as did the ability to speak, since I got into the passenger seat, waiting for Heather to find her own way into the vehicle. A rather loud and abrupt “harrumph” from dad pointed out that I’d committed another ‘no no’ and I hastily exited and guided Heather into the back seat. It only took a second “harrumph” when I tried to get back in the front to enlighten me. The hand basket seemed to be moving faster than ever. Shudder.

Surprisingly, the arrival at school was sweet and uneventful. I’d even managed to give Heather the corsage, something she never expected at all, and she had pinned it on herself, probably in self defense, knowing that she’d probably bleed to death if she let me try to do that. I’m sure it wasn’t because she was afraid of me touching her breasts, as she’d certainly managed to let me touch them in those dance lessons. Frankly, I kept expecting them to break under the pressure she put on them, when we were learning those dance steps, but they never did. It was quite funny though, since I’d back away throughout, and she always ended up looking like she was leading. Come to think of it, I guess she was.

The dance itself was great. We danced the steps we’d learned, but under the alternating soft, hard, soothing, and strobing lights, and the booming sounds of the live band, not to mention the fantastic decorations, the experience was much nicer than the bare bones fluorescent lit gym with a tinny sounding stereo system. I actually had fun. Several times, other girls would cut in, and Heather’d be off somewhere else, but it wouldn’t take long before she’d be right back in my arms. As shy as I am, I knew she liked me, so I felt comfortable. Any residual discomfort I felt; could be hidden by just pressing my face into her hair, and smelling her wonderful scent. And that’s what I did.

Hours later, exhausted but still on some kind of high from the music, the lights, the proximity of excited teenage bodies exuding God only knows what pheromones, we were dancing the last dance, a slow waltz, everyone holding their partners close. Heather, probably thinking the time was perfect, pulled back her head from my shoulder, and then quickly leaned forward to plant a kiss on my lips.

OMG. Electricity coursed through me, racing from my lips to the tips of my toes, and up through the back of my skull. I had never felt this before. Ever. And I knew, at the very moment, I never wanted to feel it again. Like a many times magnified electric shock from chewing on aluminum with your mercury filled molars, or an agonizing hit on the ‘funny bone’, it riveted me in horror and disgust. All my pleasure at her nearness evaporated in less than a microsecond, and I knew, down to the depths of my being, that I was not destined to ever lust after a woman. I tried to cover my shock, my distaste, my obviously inappropriate reaction, but to no avail. We left within minutes, in separate taxis, not waiting for her dad to pick us up as had been planned. Not a word was spoken, and we never spoke again.

© Bart Vogelzang, 2007 All Rights Reserved