I was born at a very young age, and now that I am in my Social Security years I seem to remember the past in vivid detail. Recently while trying to fall asleep memories of first’s started rolling through my head. The first bike (red for the curious among you). The first fall of the bike (coincidentally on the first ride). And the first friend; think about that, I can remember the moment I met my first friend, down to the words that were exchanged.
Growing up in the city it took me approximately five years to meet another kid that wasn’t a cousin. I was playing on the unnecessarily high steps to our rental row house at 12 Bonvue Street, when this huge kid came up the street making a beeline for me. He was a fat kid, as we were allowed to say in those days, he had freckles and a big belly. I could tell he was way older than me, he was 6. “Hey, you Bobby Mill?” Up to that point in my life everybody knew who I was because we were all related. I stammered slightly but got the affirmative answer out fearing that maybe he was just identifying the target before he pounced on me. “I’m Tommy Vaughn…you wanna be my friend” he asked. Not knowing exactly what a friend was I agreed to be a friend for the first time. I remained his friend until I carried his huge casket some 40 years later.
Then came the first girl friend. She had that distinction although she didn’t know it until way later. Charlie Brown had his Little red haired girl I had my blond. Sally Howley was the first female vision. She had no idea how smitten I was. She was an older woman, sixth grader while I was in fifth. Our parents were friendly from church and she lived on the walking route to school…that is how one becomes a stalker. Each day my scheduled walk was made to coincide with hers so as to be a safe distance behind, lusting in my heart, safe from her gaze. Not that she would ever look at me…and what would I do if she did!
My birthday was fast approaching and my two older sisters were plotting a surprise party for me. Casually they wondered aloud just whom I would want at a party should there ever be one, which of course would never happen to me because that was the first time I ever heard of a surprise party. Playing along the names came rolling out, all boys. That was unacceptable so they persisted, any girls, they asked. None came readily to mind except for Sally Howley. End of conversation.
Ding-dong, the door opens and in comes Tommy Vaughn and a group of our baseball buddies and Sally Howley. Are you kidding me? In my house…in front of my guys…carrying a gift to a surprise party, my first surprise party.
Two years later we had our first kiss and a year of being a couple.
…I just think about this stuff.