Dating was a very public affair in my family, what with so many young ones under foot at any given moment, as I am the second oldest of eight children. All of the guys who chose to date and then eventually marry the girls in our family, Marsha’s John, my Rolly, Jeannie’s Steve, Kathy’s George (Jody to us) , and Janice’s Al, came from much smaller families. Each of these guys revealed, in later years, some of the panic, if not sheer terror, they felt coming to our house and waiting for that very first date. In honour of the first date that Rolly and I ever had, many years later I wrote him the following poem in which I try to catch a bit of the inner thought processes he just might have been experiencing. He will, of course, until his dying day, deny the bit about taking part in any giggling:
I took off my shoes at your back porch door
And stepped in onto the gleaming floor
That you must have polished the day before—
It smelled like lemon pie.
Your little brother began to gawk
At an obscene peephole in my sock
As though it were some bubonic pock
And I was about to die.
Your mother asked if I’d like to sit—
I might have to wait a little bit,
So I sank in a chair where I didn’t fit
And I felt like a sideshow act.
Your brother finally went outside,
Where he pushed against the screen and spied
’Til your mother warned that she’d tan his hide,
So he left, with the screen intact.
It felt like 93° in the shade,
And your mother poured me some lemonade
She said that you had freshly made,
And then she left the room.
Alone at last, I achieved my goal—
I yanked at the heel and pulled the hole
From the toe of my sock down to the sole,
And escaped impending doom.
I wanted to scratch, didn’t think that I should;
When I heard the sound of creaking wood
I glanced around and there you stood;
The room was suddenly hushed.
You were radiant as a summer day,
Fragrant as apple blossoms in May;
Neither of us knew just what to say;
You giggled and I blushed.
Behind us the screen door slammed again
As I put on those dusty shoes and then
Your mother called out “Be back by ten!”
We giggled and blushed some more.
This poem, First Date, is a semi- fictional account of the melded memories of several of the guys— glazed over just a wee bit for flavour— kind of like canned ham! In reality, what actually happened to Rolly, while he waited for me to finish dressing for our date, was that he sat down on the couch rather than a chair and was immediately joined by my baby brother Donny. He, being the affectionate child that he was, snuggled in close and planted a nice big kiss on Rolly’s cheek. Donny loved everybody and everybody loved him. As a preschooler he had very little experience with the great wide world; I guess he must have figured that this big handsome 6 foot one fella who had come to take his sister out for the evening deserved to be rewarded!
Thinking back on that moment now, I am reminded of II Corinthians 13:12 which says “Greet one another with a holy kiss.”—a totally honest, open, and loving greeting of pure sweetness. There was probably never a better example of it than that ! I look forward to sharing just such a moment on some bright and beautiful future day— the day when I shall greet again my two special brothers-in law, John Davidson, and Stephen Smith who have already stepped in onto another gleaming floor. One that shone for each of them, not from being polished on hands and knees, in anticipation of each of their arrivals, but rather because it is made of pure gold.