My first date was a double date, safety being in numbers.
Frank and I arranged to meet our gals at the Rolling Meadows Theater.
I don’t recall the exact movies (this was back in the days of twin features for a matinee price) we saw, but I’m sure they were from one of the many B-grade horror movies going around: “Dracula,” “Bride of Dracula,” “Frankenstein,” “Son of Frankenstein,” “The Mummy,” “The Zombie,” etc.
Frank and I agreed on the genre after much psychological profiling. We wanted our girls bored and a little scared, something that would drive them into our arms and keep them there. And as devotees of this particular art form we could act the role of the wise mentor, one who could discuss the merits of the various vampire repellents of garlic, a cross or a splash of holy water.
Men of the world.
The current James Bond movie was out because the over-the-top sexuality would have made us all uncomfortable. Besides, spy thrillers were something Frank and I wanted to watch together, ogling Goldfinger’s laser or the Astin Martin’s machine guns more than Honor Blackman.
Although I adored Julie Andrews– still do– “Mary Poppins” didn’t set the tone for making out in the back row.
Not that we actually kissed. Unprotected sex in those days meant not wearing a long sleeve shirt while getting your arm around your date’s shoulders. To do that, of course, one used the expansive yawn move, making a show of extending one’s arm, and then letting the limb fall nonchalantly on her shoulders. My first attempt left my arm agonizingly short of the goal of actual body-to-body contact. Instead, it lay cold and awkward atop the back of her chair.
I could slide my arm the mere fraction of an inch needed to make contact, but that would leave me vulnerable to rejection. If she shied away from the touch immediately after the yawns I had plausible deniability. But if I slid it now and she shunned my advance I’d be forever humiliated.
I froze in indecision,
Finally I went for it, touching Mary Ellen’s back ever so lightly and shoulder even more so. It was as if I’d hit the button on a self-opening umbrella. In a mechanical motion she leaned toward me and put her red head on my shoulder. To complete the courting ritual, I leaned my head onto hers. And there we stayed through the remainder of the movie, through intermission and into the next flick.
No way that could have played out during “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”
That was it, no kiss– not even a peck on the cheek.
That level of intimacy would have to wait for a couple more years as Mary Ellen moved several states away and I soon lost contact with her.
C’est la vie.
To stave off the heartbreak I resorted to trying to initiate meaningless sexual encounters or, in other words, becoming a pickup artist. This translated into the wanton practice of going to the show with only guy friends, sitting with an empty seat between us and waiting for an unsuspecting female to sit down between us. Our yawn moves were primed and ready to entrap our prey, innocent or otherwise.
Although we set out the bait Saturday after Saturday, enduring sequel after sequel, no one– much less a girl– entered our trap.
I’ve always wondered why.