Well, it wasn’t my first girlfriend, but it was the first time I had picked up a girl and taken her on a date.
If you live around Little Rock, you may be familiar with the corner of John Barrow Rd and Asher Ave. It was not exactly a great neighborhood then. On recent visits, I don’t think it has changed for the better, but I could be mistaken.
Being a teenager in the 80s, being a nerd, and being one of the few white boys working in a mostly black neighborhood, it was hard to meet girls. Now right here, I have to interject. At that time, at that age, I was somewhat racist. I don’t know why I didn’t like black people other than that is what I picked up from home, church and an almost all white school. This job was a wake up call. I worked with so many cool people. They didn’t care that I was white, and they taught me that regardless of what I was led to believe, black folks were just regular people like me – but only cooler.
Okay, digression over. One day, a fairly attractive young woman came into the grocery store where I worked, Safeway – now Harvest Foods, with her grandmother. By young, I mean 15 – hey, I was only 16! We made eye contact. We both said to ourselves, “Oh yeah…” but nothing came of it. I noticed that from then on, once a week, this girl would come in with her grandmother and grocery shop. After a few weeks, I decided to go for it. However, I didn’t have the nerve to ask her out in front of her grandmother. What did I do? The most inappropriate thing I could possibly think of – I was a dumb ass (Jaime says I still am).
As I was bagging their groceries, a polska kielbasa came down the belt. I quickly took some register tape and wrote my name and phone number on it and wrapped it around the large sausage.
A short time later my manager called me on the intercom and said I needed to take a phone call. Oh Boy!
It was the grandmother. She gave me hell. Then she started laughing and handed the phone to her granddaughter. Her name was Stephanie Lilly. Some of you may know her. Anyway, after a good hearty laugh we made arrangements to go out to a movie.
Hell I was excited! I’d never been on a real date before. So what did I do? Something dumb. In retrospect it is embarrassing. Stephanie thought it was sweet. Jaime thinks it was dumb but sweet.
I had spent all day preparing. One at a time, I filled them up and placed them in the car until there was hardly any room except for the driver. I drove to her house and carefully exited the car to make sure none of them fell out. I met Stephanie’s mother and older brothers and took her out to the car. I opened the door for her…
…and they all fell out…
balloons…dozens and dozens of balloons! It was like I was celebrating that I was no longer a loser! Life was great! I was awesome!
What in the hell was I thinking?