Peggy’s late October party was like entering a subterranean vault permeated with English Leather cologne. Apparently, first time users hadn’t been schooled on how much of the fragrant substance to mete out, while others seemed equally clueless about English Leather’s new soap sensation, Soap on a Rope, and how much to rub when bathing.
The girls at this gathering were certain about one thing, however. Despite the plush rug, couch and love seat provided for everyone to neck on, no girl used them for fear of being labeled a slut. As a result, a line formed outside the furnace room, the hostess’s special sanctuary offering heat and privacy for all her party guest’s make-out sessions.
I could visualize it now – guys making out with girls, faces plastered together, hands groping for skin while mouths gasped for air in the hot steamy darkness. Unfortunately, my opportunity with Mary – my current heartthrob – was closer to fumbling in the shadows, bobbing for anything soft and round, ducking under protruding shelves, reaching over hot pipes, and getting only as far as copping a cold blouse before burning my back on a hot water line. So embarrassed, it wasn’t until the family beach vacation later that summer that I finally took off my shirt in public.
I retreated to the love seat to be on my own (still too young to appreciate the irony). This wasn’t a make-out party but a strike-out fest. I dreamed how the incident might have gone better. But even the rewrites were bad, now including a cast of thousands.
One rewrite had Mom in it, saying, “Be careful, Michael. Do you know what you’re doing?”
Another starred Mary, looking down on me from above, laughing.
A third scenario featured Dad walking in, looking for his golf clubs, then walking out.
The last one involved police storming in, asking if my parents knew where I was.
Was every intimate moment in my life going to be some sort of ménage a trois? A quatre? Cinq, six, sept?
I was coming to understand that when you went for the best women you never got anything at all. Love seemed so unreliable, so random, like picking flower petals and saying “she loves me, she loves me not,” or standing so long under mistletoe your feet cramped up, or desperately hoping some girl would pull the fruit loop off your shirt and ask you to go steady with her.
Every autumn for me is a mixed bag of whispers from the past. This memory is of the first make-out party I ever went to in sixth grade back in the 60’s, an excerpt from my memoir, Maybe Boomer, Chapter 10, “Girls.“