Have you ever seen romances wax and then wane? I believe most of us have struggled with the idea of finding someone we could consider a soul mate at one point in our lives or another.
Teaching on the junior high/middle school level almost 40 years has served as a constant reminder for me of the difficulty in finding that "someone." Followed by the challenge of hanging on to what you got. Kind of like the thrill of victory followed by the agony of defeat, as happens during the dating game.
But it isn’t a game. It’s serious business searching for that special one to round out your life. Over the course of my career in education, chaperoning countless Friday night dances has afforded me the opportunity to observe romances wax and wane over a period of two hours or less. Occasionally, a romance will begin on the morning school bus ride, flower and blossom during homeroom, reach its height by lunch time in the cafeteria and have crash burned by the end of the day. Kids.
Most of us have been there, many of us can relate. High school romances aren’t any more promising, just more expensive.
I realized when I reached high school that there are certain things that a young man must do to make himself more attractive and desirable. I needed a certain savoir-faire. I needed Š I needed an advisor. I needed some advice on how to get things started, a push over the edge if you will. I knew my buddies would be great at giving me sound advise. The following are "to try" ideas/options in an effort to make that certain connection.
For certain, it would have been a real advantage to belong to an athletic team. I could have played on the football team. I bet I could have tackled anyone, made touchdowns and gone on to be a hero. I probably could have been the captain of the basketball team if I were taller and could read plays and dribble without falling down.
"Get on a team, Tom. "People will fall all over you."
I suppose that was good advice, but I never played a team sport in high school; scratch that option.
I remember when my friends advised me against working at the Hotel Putnam. They were correct from the standpoint that the hotel was not what one would consider a chick magnet. When Leo Morrissette pushed the idea that I should wear a monkey suit while working at the hotel (where people could see me) I nearly fainted. If I were an outcast for working at the hotel the monkey suit would have made me a target for stoning. Luckily, there were distractions that derailed the monkey suit scheme.
Working at the hotel was also unacceptable to the guys as my work schedule infringed on social networking opportunities. My job did, however, provide me with the means for purchasing a car. A car is a chic magnet. What I didn’t understand was that some chicks are particular in terms of desirable wheels they would allow themselves to be seen in.
My first car, the one that would jump start my Casanova career, was a ‘54 Ford. I purchased it at Honest Carl’s Used Car Lot located across the road from the Deer Park. It was reddish in color, and when it rained it changed colors, because the reddish color turned out to be rust. No one was impressed. My pals said I needed a better car. Easier said than done. There must be another option.
Let’s summarize. Sports are out, hotel work is out and cars are not in the running. I could be out of gas. Some people would advise against rushing into "things," just be yourself and it will happen without even trying. I don’t think so, Skippy. It’s back to getting some guidance and who better to turn to than my friend who have just as much experience and wisdom as myself. It’s time for misguided information to run its course.
There were all kinds of suggestions, from passing notes and getting rid of Old Spice to shopping at Saul’s on the corner of North and Pleasant streets for the new line of Campus men’s wear. It seemed that neither Adams Clothing shop on Main Street nor Noon’s Men’s Clothing shop on North Street were hip enough in men’s current fashions.
Another friend offered the suggestion (which made perfect sense) to stop in at the shoe shop next to the Vermont Restaurant and buy some cleats for my penny loafers. Leaving the shoe shop I could hear "My Guy" by Mary Wells ringing in my head and the sound of a motorcycle revving as in "Leader of the Pack" by the Shangri-las.
Nothing can stop me now. Turns out, cleats were not the best idea. There are times that you do not want to be heard approaching someone or nearing the office at Bennington Catholic High School.
Jack Harrington, a friend I worked with at the Ben Mont Paper Mill and later on the Highway Department, gave me some really sage advice. He suggested that I get a guitar "and the girls will flock to you." Problem was I didn’t even know how to play a guitar, never mind own one. But I did like music and could sing to most of the Beatles tunes. And then it happened.
Leaving work late one night from the hotel, I crossed South Main and proceeded east up Main Street, passing by the bank and approaching the lighted windows of Abe Novak’s store. I peered into the window and there she was, Stella. A beautiful blonde six-string guitar with a soft carrying case on sale, for just $65. I couldn’t wait until the following morning for the shop to open up.
I arrived just before the store opened to admire Stella. My face was planted so close to the display window that my view of her was partially obscured by a white cloud painted on the window by my breath. It was a quick sale made by Ted Bird.
That day I found the one that was destined to be mine. She, like me, has changed over time, but even so she doesn’t mind me picking on her and she is always there to brighten my day. Oh, yes and I wasn’t even looking or trying to find her.
Tom Pinsonneault, of Orwell, grew up in Bennington. He can be reached at email@example.com.