Monday, April 16, 2012

Courtship, You Say?

For one of my classes this semester, I was tasked with writing a paper detailing the courtship rituals in twentieth-century America as compared to today. I had a great time with this and felt compelled to share a few excerpts with you, so that you may laugh with (at) me and perhaps even find a bit of yourself or your past in my musings on dating, as I see it.

                I tried to picture myself in the days of calling and supervised dating; I was much more the girl whose suitors simply slowed down, honked and waited for my signal to “keep driving, I’m going to run through the neighbor’s backyard and I’ll meet you at the end of the block.” And to call them suitors is pretty rich; in reality, they were most likely just the latest guy in town to have received his license and/or a new vehicle and our time together would be spent doing nothing more than driving up and down the endless, omnipresent Main St. that ran through my hometown. It wasn’t so much a date, as a fruitless waste of fossil fuel and a quick way to anger your parents with the number of miles put on the car in one evening. And never could said parents be convinced that you had, indeed, only been “cruising Main”; the odometer suggested something more along the lines of a trip from west-central Wisconsin into the southern tip of Illinois.

                In my personal experience, the vast majority of my dates have absorbed the literal cost of our time together; me, more so the emotional cost. But while most of my paramours have held with tradition, I did have a really amazing experience with a young man we’ll call Kevin, because that is his name. Kevin picked me up and swung into the McDonald’s drive-thru on the way to see a movie. He didn’t ask if I was hungry, nor did he offer to get me anything; I guess it was good that I’d eaten before I left the house. Another quick stop, this time at the gas station, and we arrived at the theatre with not a moment to spare.
               At this time, I’d like to thank my parents for instilling in me the notion that a lady must always have a little cash on hand; Kevin was conspicuously busy doing absolutely nothing as the ticket sales girl hands me our tickets and informs me of the charge, directing us to theatre four, on the right. I use the last $20 to my name and spend the next two hours and twenty minutes trying to fend off the hands of Gropey McGroperson and wishing that I’d met him at the theatre so I didn’t have to ride home with him.
               He uses the ride home to further fondle my left knee and tell me how great my laundry detergent smells; I can hardly hold back from telling him that his Grandpa’s cologne isn’t doing him any favors and I’ll be bathing immediately once I arrive home to rid myself of the cloying smell of imminent death. Naturally, he’s expecting an invite into my humble studio apartment for a nightcap but I barely waited until he’d pulled up to the curb before I was out of the truck and barreling in to my Gain-clean-and-fresh home, securing the deadbolt behind me. That was nine years ago but I still recall every single detail, primarily due to the mortification factor. Bad dates are part of the deal and somewhere, someone told me that you have to kiss a few frogs to find your prince; Kevin is one frog whose story deserves retelling.

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