“We were like training wheels for each other…”
This story is old school. Really old school. From back when I was still in high school. If Sex and the Single Dad were a movie series, this story would be the prequel.
It was the spring of 1984 and I was in the parking lot of my church, waiting with my friends for a bus to whisk us off on an adventure. We were on our way to the Bahia Hotel in Mission Bay (San Diego) for the annual youth convention. I was a senior at Valley Christian High School and I had been chosen as the President of my church youth group. As we waited for the bus, the pastor pulled me aside and informed me that he thought some of the kids were going to bring alcohol and could I please go through their bags and check.
I told him that I was the right man for the job and I totally meant it. Why was I the right man? Probably because I was the one who had organized the party and I knew what everyone was supposed to bring. Now was as good a time as any to see if we were well stocked for the trip. I know that I had my bottle of Bacardi and I had a roll of quarters so I could get Coke out of the vending machine at the hotel. I checked the bags and made sure that everyone had what they were supposed to have. We loaded the bus and headed south.
My pastor was in charge of the conference that year and as the guy in command of his youth group, I was helping with the planning. Keep that in mind as you continue to read…
Immediately upon arriving we went to our room and looked for a good place to keep the beer cold. We thought about filling up the bathtub with ice, but decided that four high school guys in a room for three nights with no shower was not a good idea. Someone came up with the brilliant idea of putting a six-pack in the tank of the toilet. The rationale was that the tank is always cold, so why not. We all agreed and figured that we would spend the night sitting in the room, drinking and having a good time. At least that was the plan.
That afternoon the pastor came to our room to discuss what part we were playing in the evening’s festivities when he announced that he had to use the bathroom. Immediately the four of us froze and as he closed the door, I think we all had the same thought—“run and hide!” I remember the toilet flushing and hearing the distinct clink, clink, clink of glass bottles hitting each other as the water drained out of the tank. A moment later this man of God came out of the bathroom with a handful of Heinekens and a look of disappointment on his face.
I don’t remember the whole sermon, but I recall it being a lengthy one and I remember him looking at me several times and uttering the phrase, “I expected more from you.” Ouch, yo. After that, parents were called and we were all banished to the hotel room for the remainder of the three-night stay.
My friends and I were on the balcony that night when we spotted three girls heading towards the playground. One in particular was quite appealing to me—tall, with red hair and dressed nice. She looked classy, but not in a snobby way. I was far from smooth in those days. (P.S.O. may argue that I’m not smooth now. She may be right.) I made a comment to my friends about wanting to talk with the red head, but being too embarrassed.
One of my friends (who had absolutely no shame) yelled down and asked them to come over and talk to us. They did and the next thing I knew, the four of us, who were supposed to be locked in our room, were climbing down a tree and hanging out with them. The redhead was an actress—a pretty good one, I would later find out.
We sat and talked for a while and decided to try and get together the next morning. Meals were the only time we were allowed out of the room and my “crew” and I hooked up with her “posse” for our morning nourishment.
At some point on the trip The Actress and I kissed for the first time. I remember we were on the playground, but I don’t remember the circumstances behind us being there.
She and I lost touch for a number of years, then one night I checked Facebook and found a message from her. We chatted and caught each other up on the last 20+ years. I called her this evening and left a message for her to call me back as soon as she could. I told her that it was fairly urgent and that it was “blog related”. She’s a fan of the site, so I knew that she would get back with me promptly.
An hour later my cell phone rang and she was calling from the Catskills in New York where she is on location shooting a small movie. I told her that I had a couple of questions about “the old days” and asked her not to think I was a douche because I didn’t remember all the details. I asked her about our first kiss and she laughed and said that her memories of it were much like mine—kind of hazy, but that it was definitely on the playground.
The Actress and I dated on and off for a couple of years and she was my first serious girlfriend and I was her first boyfriend. I attended her junior prom (once I got off restriction from the whole “drinking at the church convention thing”) and I also attended her senior prom. I went and saw her plays in high school and at junior college and she attended a performance of South Pacific that I was in.
Tonight we reminisced about fun moments from our past—of group bonfires at Huntington Beach and walking down the sand holding hands. I reminded her of a couple “small gatherings” at her parents house (they were out of town) where she made a concoction that she liked to call Frozen F***ups. Basically, you take limeade and instead of adding cans of water you add cans of vodka, then put it in the freezer for a while. It sounds crazy now, but remember that we were all of 18 and 17 at the time, so what did we know? Long story short, though we never did have sex and left each other still virgins, it was still first love for both of us.
The Actress is married to a doctor and acts professionally in New York City. I’m very happy with how things are going with P.S.O. and tonight we bantered back and forth about our current relationships. Just before hanging up I told her I had one last question. “How would you describe our relationship?” I asked. “I don’t mean now. I mean back then.” She paused for a moment and said, very matter of factly, “We were like training wheels for each other. We didn’t necessarily support each other, but we helped each other learn.”