There really was something exhilarating about getting all that new stuff for the first day back to school. And then, an hour into it, you were ready for it all to be over. But you still got to see friends that you hadn’t seen all summer (and maybe even a chance to see that playground bully again–yup, really missed him).
Of course, the older I got, the more interested I became in how much the girls had changed over the summer. Whether you’re a man or a woman, you know the reaction I’m talking about: “Whoa! Who’s the new girl?? No way!! You’re serious? That’s Jessie Nimrod?? That’s the girl who had braces on her teeth and was shaped like a stick at the end of the school year last year? You sure that’s not a new girl in our school?” And all the boys would be huddled in groups of two or three debating and arguing over who was going be the first one to ask her to dance at the Friday night Fun Night (and trying to act like it’s no big deal when they know good and well that their insides are liquified at the thought of asking her).
Remember those Friday night Fun Nights? Dancing and games and junk food. How about this: remember when Break Dancing was king in the mid-80’s? Well, you might not be able to tell now, but back then, I was the “Break Dance King” of Bath Middle School. If I had a picture of what I looked like back then, I’d show it to you. Since I don’t, though, let’s see what I can do to give you a decent mental picture: black parachute pants with a black-and-white-checkered bandana tied around my right thigh; pink high-tops (remember the pastel colors of the 80’s?); a long-sleeved blue shirt under a white muscle-shirt (the very popular “layered” look for break dancers); and plenty of cologne on for when I might be asking a girl to dance.
Never quite got the hang of that last part. Really, though, I think every boy probably felt that way if he’s honest with himself. That walk across the dance floor to the other side where the girls are all huddled around each other is the longest walk in a young man’s life. I swaggered or moon-walked across the dance floor (don’t remember which) and as I would get closer, they would start “talking”. Ladies, do you realize what that does to us guys? Reindeer games, that’s what that is. As soon as we see that, it’s “game on” in our heads. What are they talking about? Do I have toilet paper sticking out of my pants? Is it stuck to my shoes? Why are they laughing? They keep looking at me. Can they see a booger from there? Is something so big in my teeth that they can see it from there? Can they smell my breath from there? Is someone making bunny ears behind me? It’s sure hot in here! It feels like everyone’s staring at me. Wait a second! Did the D.J. make an announcement that I was coming over? Who keeps turning up the heat? She keeps looking at me! What’s she gonna say? What if it’s “No”? What if she laughs at me? Why do I feel like Charlie Brown? Wait a minute! She’s got red hair too!! What am I thinking?! She’ll never say yes!
I don’t think I ever got a “No”. Not because I was a stud (although my wife thinks differently about that); I think it’s just because I was one of those “nice guys” that girls couldn’t help but give a courtesy dance to. I’m sure you remember those “courtesy” dances. It’s when you can tell the other party doesn’t really want to be there, but nonetheless, you can at least say that you got to dance! Don’t get me wrong….I didn’t do a whole lot of asking to begin with and most of the dances that I remember were “legitimate”, so-to-speak.
It’s interesting what memories stick with you over the years. And for this visit, it’s all thanks to our kids going back to school!