Friday, January 7, 2011

Riding In Cars With Boys

I hear that kids don't really date any more and that's just too bad. I guess it's a different world but my world was immensely opened up when I was finally allowed to date.

Because my stepfather thought of me as his, he would have been quite happy if I'd been kept in the house forever, a child-nun to keep all to himself, but somehow it had been put in place that when I turned sixteen, I could go out with a boy on a real date, and I'll never forget the first time I went out with a guy, and the Evil One stood there and cried as I left with this football player who had a twisted sense of humor and that perpetual wound over the top of his nose where his helmet rubbed him and my mother thought it was so sweet that her husband loved me so much that he cried when I went out, having no idea the twisted perversion going on his mind.

Or the complete and utter feeling of freedom in mine as I left that house, even if just until ten o'clock when I had to be back in it.

I can't quite describe it. And if I tried, it would go on for days but I'll say this- when I was out and in a car with a boy, my body was my own and my desires were my own and my choices were my own and it was normal and right, whereas in my house the things that went on were certainly not of my control and beyond a doubt, not right in any way.

But aside from all of THAT, it was just such a fine rite of passage. The boy getting his nerve up to ask me out, my acceptance, the time set, my clothes picked out, my hair just right, all of it...
And then he'd be there and I could walk out the door and get in a car with a boy.

And those poor boys. They had to have a car or at last access to a car to take a girl out and some of the cars I was picked up in- well, I would say that the car never really mattered to the girl, but of course it must have because I remember some of them so well.

I don't remember what Joe Reed (the boy with the wound over his nose) drove, which is odd, but I did not date him for very long. I don't remember why. Although I thought of myself as an entirely unattractive, fat schlep of a girl, the truth must have been otherwise because boys did ask me out. I seemed to charm them or something. I don't know. I was probably just really cute.

One of the boys I remember going out with was a fellow everyone called Mafia and he, too, was a football player and had the wound over his nose. He wore sunglasses all the time and had sort of crappy teeth but I let him give me my first kiss and we were leaned up against my best friend's mother's Lincoln Continental when it happened. Ah Lord. What a moment in time for me.
He drove a shitbeat '55 Chevy that sometimes only went in reverse that at one time had probably looked like this:

He also rode a motorcycle that he'd buzz by my house on fifty times a day. He wore a leather jacket and of course what I found attractive about him was his bad-boyness. He actually told me that some girls were for having fun and some were for taking out.
I was of the taking-out variety.
Ah Mafia. That smile, that leather jacket, that turquoise and white boat he drove.

I went out with a neighbor boy one time. He was a piece of shit but he somehow had a 1971 Corvette Stingray and got many dates just on the bait of that car.

Many first dates, I would say.
He took me out and I don't even know where we went and then he took me home to his house to "watch TV" which of course meant he wanted to make-out and even then I knew that he wasn't worth making out with and I demanded to be taken home, the two blocks or whatever from his house to mine, in that bright yellow penis-extender car of his. I don't care what sort of car a boy drives, if a girl gets all dressed up she expects more than a damn milkshake and a make-out session in his parent's den.

Buh-bye, rich boy.

I never have liked Corvettes.

One of the sweetest, sweetest boys I ever dated (and he was a serious boyfriend) drove his grandmother's 1960 Chevy Impala. I think. It was another land-yacht of a car. It looked something like this, but not nearly as shiny:

It smelled like a grandmother car, of old leather and metal dashboard. I would have gone out with that boy in a mail truck. He had no money and our dates were handmade, to say the least. I remember one night he took me down to a park at a lake and sang me songs by the Band and we had a communion of sorts with bread and possibly wine but probably grape juice of our own and I have no idea why but I think it's because he loved me and he was giving thanks.
That boy just about saved my life when I got really, really sick from mono and was in the hospital for a month and he would come and sit by my bed and sing "All Things Must Pass," and I made it through that valley of darkness more because of the light he brought to me than of anything the doctors did, which was just about nothing.

And yet, and yet...

Because I was seventeen and cruel, I left him for another boy and that boy was crazy so of course I loved him and he drove his father's Renault which was a ridiculous car and I remember him throwing that on-the-steering column gear shift and the car jerking and sputtering and he drove me away and he drove me crazy and the crazier he made me, the more I loved him and sometimes he would fill up that Renault with garden-stolen roses and leave bouquets at my door that would have filled up the front room of a funeral parlor and finally, I had to go away to college and he slept with other women and I thought I'd die out there in Denver, so cold and everything white with snow and I listened to Joni Mitchell's Blue a million times and embroidered him a shirt and cried and cried and cried. I think that my love for him may have been based on the fact that he was so insane that he might have actually taken on my stepfather if push had come to shove and it almost did several times. My stepfather hated that boy. HATED him. Told me to tell him he had to get a haircut or he couldn't take me out any more. Made horrible remarks about him to me. And although I never told that boy what my stepfather had done, I think he had some inkling of it and I think he would have killed the man for me if I had asked.
I guess I'm glad I never did.

I had a few moments of sanity in the days I dated him, and sometimes I'd break up with him and I always intended to stay that way but you can't fight that sort of crazy for too long.

But the one boy I dated in one of those inbetween times is one that is still dear to my heart. He has been married now for what? Thirty-five years and we've stayed in touch as we raised our children and now we send each other pictures of our grandchildren and he and his wife have come and stayed here and we have visited them and well, yes, there is always a room in my heart that he lives in.

I may have forgotten a million dates that I went on as a girl but I remember the first one I went on with him. He picked me up in a car that looked like this:

A Morris Minor and where he got that thing I do not know.
"We are going incognito," he said, and I guess we were and we went to see a movie and one thing lead to another and he gave me Bob Dylan and I gave him the Rolling Stones and it was a fair deal and always has been.

So where the hell was I going with this? This date thing? When did it turn into a car thing?
I don't know.
Do you?
I guess it's just that back in the days when the earth's surface was still cooling and boys and girls actually dated, it seemed to me a fine thing and I can still remember what I wore on some of those dates and I can still remember the cars the boys picked me up in and I learned early on that a car does not make the man and that was a good lesson to learn, don't you think?

And then somehow, I married a man who drove a pick-up truck and then he got into the car business and cars have paid our bills for a long time and since I've been with him I've driven everything from Mercedes Benzes to a Mini Cooper to a Mazda minivan (still one of my favorite cars ever) and now I drive a Honda and it doesn't matter to me as long as they start up and get me where I'm going and they all have. That man has taken me out on a thousand dates and many of them in one beautiful old convertible or another and we've driven in those cars through pine forests down straight gray roads in the dark with the moon following us and we've acted like teenagers and made out in the back seats and we've been wild even as life has conspired to make us mild and old.

Tomorrow I think we are going to drive up to Thomasville in yet another pick-up and maybe buy that horse for Owen if it's still there, maybe have a meal, maybe hold hands when we walk downtown.

I wonder what I'll wear.

I hope he kisses me. I hope that boy kisses me in the front seat of that truck.

It'll be like a date, even though we are going to buy something for our grandchild.

Isn't that something? I think it is. I really do.

Happy Friday, y'all.
Love...Ms. Moon


  1. You and Dad are so adorable. Thinking about it, I have very, very seldom gone on actual dates. I should ask someone out, just for kicks. Usually it goes hang out in a group > wind up hanging out just one on one > things happen > go on dates because you are already hooking up. And, of course, in high school I simply didn't date at all.

  2. Loved this piece.

    The dating thing is very different now , you are right.
    And made even easier by the fact that we don't allow it.

    I get shivers when you talk about your stepfather.
    If we were friends back then I might have gone after him. I had lots of rage issues that were ready to surface.

    (and I hope you didn't misunderstand what I said re your mother. I think our situations are similar and I'm still processing my own bad daughter stuff , so thought it best to tread lightly. You speak to each other , that 's more than I can offer up )

  3. Ok, this little ditty you wrote about today needs to be published! LOVED it.
    I can relate 100%.
    Going on Dates with boys in cars? Check.
    Evil Step Father? Check.
    Able to be my authentic self the minute I walked out the door? Check.
    Learning very early on that a car does not make the boy/man? Check.
    Loving dates now even if they are errands with a man who has grey in his beard? Check.
    Thank you so much for the memories.

  4. While you write so beautifully about it and it's almost like I know what you are talking about, I don't really have any idea. I was never asked out in high school so there you go.

  5. well.....
    a short skirt and snazzy stockings are in order. maybe a pair of cowboy boots....
    get wild!

  6. Why don't you send this piece of art in to that Florida Review? To that contest I told you about?


  7. Well, I don't know about dating in high school. I was shy beyond words and if a boy would even call my house I would just about have a conniption fit (now there's a good ole Southern phrase for ya)!

    I love how in love you and Mr. Moon are. It is a joy to behold.

    wv: cartaint!!!

  8. I never had a date. No wait a minute. I had one when I was 35. It was mostly sex. I was a street kid at a very young age so that whole rite of passage was invisible to me. It's interesting to read about it but nothing thumps in me or awakens. It's like reading about life on an alien planet.

    The view from here.

  9. Dating didn't really exist in Ireland. I don't know if it does now. I never went on one, ever.

    Love your riding in cars with boys story. The genuiune American Experience :)

    wv: trocks!

  10. DTG- You should! Call up a girl, ask her out, bring her a flower, take her for a nice meal. It would be awesome!

    deb- I never told anyone any thing in those days so you would never have known. Ever. But thank you for saying you might have taken him on. I wish _I_ had.

    Michele R- Are we twins?

    Kori- Well, I flirted a LOT.

    handsandspirit- I almost bought some wonderful psychedellicy stockings a few weeks ago and did not. Damn.
    But I do have red cowgirl boots. They might have to come out of the closet.

    Elizabeth- See. I already forgot about that. Dang. Really? You like it?

    Lulumarie- You were too busy painting your room to go on a date. (I love you and can hardly see you having a conniption fit but if you say so...)

    Radish King- Well, I will never go to Chicago and do whatever it is you are going to do either, I feel sure, but I sure do like reading about it. We can be windows, if not mirrors.

    Jo- Yep. It sure was. Cars, sex...uh, what else? Oh yeah, sometimes hamburgers were involved.

  11. Dating seems like a very American thing to do. I don't know anyone European who really does it. You have friends, and then one day you kiss one of them at a party, and that's when you start doing things just the two of you. Dating is not really part of it. The whole thing of dating many people at the same time is also very alien to me.

    I liked this whole dating/car post. The Morris Minor picture has Dutch words, which is my language.

    Enjoy your date!

  12. That is so nice. I had a vintage Mustang that I drove when I was a senior in high school and then into college. I liked to do off beat things like go to the river, a drive in movie, and listen to music. I hope that you get kissed too Ms. Moon.

  13. You and Mr. Moon inspire me. This post ends as cute as a bug in a rug.

    Can I just reiterate that the parts about your stepfather make me nauseated to the core of my being? May he rot in hell. You're too damn nice to say it, but I'm not. I hate that fucker. If you can love somebody and not know them (and I swear I love Kurt Vonnegut), you can hate someone and not know them, too. I hate his nasty old guts.

    So there.

  14. ' seventeen and cruel ' is the name of my new novel :)))!!!

  15. Yes, I've been thinking about your step father his part in this story and I don't know about him but I think he's on my list now and I'm sorry for what he did to you and how he made you feel and I'd like to visit him with my crossbow on my way to Elizabeth's pharmacy.

    wv: lingeous : means you talk pretty

  16. Why do the ones that make us crazy somehow draw us in? This is so beautifully written. I am angered by your stepfather though. Any man or woman who hurts a child in any way deserves a world of pain. It is hard enough to grow up as it is! You and Mr. Moon Enjoy one another and your date!

  17. Mwa- It's so odd to me to think of dating as not being something every one did. Very odd. And yet, it must be true.

    Syd- Oh! You reminded me of the MUCH older boy I dated who drove a Mustang. Dang. How did I forget HIM! He was so cute with that mustache.
    And don't worry- I get kissed ALL the time.

    Ms. Bastard-Beloved- May I just reiterate HOW MUCH I FUCKING LOVE YOU!?

    Maggie May- Aren't all seventeen year old girls cruel? Or maybe it was just me.

    Radish King- I am beginning to adore you.

  18. I meant to say, my granny drove a morris minor, and my mother had the most wonderful turquoise morris minor van. She delivered cheesecake in it.

    In Ireland, we pretty much got drunk and fooled aroudn with (although we didn't call it that)/slept with people.

    If it kept happening, and we got on well, it might have developed into something more sober or permanent. Not so much of the romance.

  19. I love these stories! Thanks for the glimpse into your past. My niece is 16, and she goes on dates. After a couple though, they only seem to "hang out" at each other's houses. Anyway. You are charming, so I have no doubt you charmed those boys, and were (are) cute too.

  20. This is brilliant and fascinating. You need to be published.

  21. Jo- In drunkenness, I was late. Not so much the other stuff.

    Lora- Mmmm. Maybe.

    Bethany- I am! Here! Every day!

    Ms. Fleur- Now there's a word!

  22. What a wonderful wandering path of a story, life in word and experience, love and hate and growing.

  23. Ms. Moon, this is amazing. I am just floored by the way it reflects life with all its crazy and sweet and making it through and its refuse to let him fucking break me there is a part of me he cannot touch.

    i am grateful in ways that might seem unreasonable for one who only knows you inside this light box, but i am so grateful Ms. Moon that you survived that man however you could, because you are here now, and you inspire me and make me laugh and make me cry and you are awesome and beautiful and i love the way you tell this story through the cars, so original and isn't it sweet to look back sometimes at the boys who helped us become who we wanted to be, even as they were figuring out who they wanted to be.

    i hope that man kissed you in the front seat of that truck, and i bet when you came home your newest little man Owen kissed you too. i love this post. And you.

  24. Well, I knew you were going to say that. And I'm not minimizing this at all. I just want the entire world to read you. I'm thinking newspaper column, but I suppose in a way that's almost obsolete. Whatever that contest is E was talking about. Can you do that?
    Lots of your writing is stand alone, article, essay, brilliant magic stuff, pieces, you know?
    I guess I was just trying to say your writing is top notch and amazing and so evocotive. But you're right, you're already published. Lucky us. I just feel bad for the rest of the folks who haven't found you yet.

  25. Kathleen Scott- Yep. It's all there. The agony and the ecstasy.

    Angella- That just made me feel so blessed- reading your words. Because I have come to love you, too. Isn't it odd how we find our own real sisters here in this crazy, random way? Thank-you. More than you know.

    Bethany- It WOULD be nice to be paid and I will admit that readily. But of course, I not only do it for free, I HAVE to write and so there you go.
    I will check into what Elizabeth suggested. Isn't she an angel?
    And so are you.

  26. I was drunken before I was sexy. :-)


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