This gentle story started me thinking about people in my past that became formative, that altered, I believe, the path I walk along in life, and many of whom are still a part of my life.
Someone who has a formative role and yet has stayed around is a dear friend by the name of Antonio Vasco*.
Meeting him was a teenage tale full of teenage drama. He was the boyfriend of my then best friend, Jovanna*, a petite Argentinian with curly hair and really huge breasts. He seemed to adore her and they were indeed what I would have said to her then “cute together”. He was unbelievably handsome in a devilishly swarthy way. I don’t think he had any idea about what a smile he directed at a girl could do to them, it was disarming, at least in those raging hormone halcyon days. For some reason, and I will assume it was because Jovanna was somewhat batshit crazy (though I didn’t know it yet), they broke up and I did not see him as much. A few weeks later, I was walking down the main hall of my high school with Jovanna and she seemed preoccupied. She said, “Antonio wants to take you to his Junior Prom. I am OK with is, here is his number.“
I was a sophomore, and felt like and completely believed myself to be an ugly and gangly duckling. I did not believe her, but took the slip of paper with his phone number on it. Hoping that she would save me some embarrassment in feeling like I should call him I turned to her and asked her if she was really OK with it, and she said “Yeah, I am“. Disappointed that I did have that as an out, I nodded and put the slip of paper in my green trapper keeper, and we headed off to class.
|This is a less swarthy version and less handsome example
of what Antonio looked like to me then…
This is of a young Ernest Hemingway.
When I got home I pulled out that piece of paper and set it on my dresser… the truth was, I never could believe that a boy as handsome as I found Antonio to be would ever find me, ME, attractive enough to want to take to a prom. And it stayed on my dresser, I did not call him.
A few days later, one of my acquaintances at school, Keith Schlecht* stopped me and asked why I hadn’t called Antonio. I was a bit taken back… “You mean that was real?” I asked. He raised an eyebrow and smirked. His friend, and debate partner, Grayson Rigby*, told me to give him my number and said, “Yes, its real“.
So, I received a phone-call later that night. It was Antonio. My brother answered, and yelled… “Blair, pick up your phone, it’s a boy” and laughed hysterically as he waited for me to pick up my phone (remember when having a phone in your room was a big deal?).
|This is the one I had, loved it!|
I took a deep breath, more-than-half of me anticipating that this was actually a crank-call.
“Hello” I said in a voice that I am sure sounded full of dread.
“Uhm, Blair?” said the voice on the other end.
“This is she“, I replied using a formal tone my grandmother had instilled in me regarding proper telephone etiquette.
“This is Antonio”.
I am sure that my breathing stopped and that I said nothing.
“Yes.” I said, completely incapable of uttering anything other than monosyllables.
By now my heart was beating fast… never had a boy, much less a handsome boy, expressed any interest in me. This was uncharted territory.
Antonio is Spanish and Mexican, a magnificent hybrid of a male. He carries both of his ancestries in his build and in his demeanor. In those days he seemed mature, very mature. And as I have mentioned before, he was very handsome.
“Blair, I was wondering if you would be interested in going to my Junior prom?” he asked, his formal tone somewhat familiar.
“Uh… When is it?” I managed to squeak out
He gave me the date. and I informed him that I would have to ask my mother.
My mother said she would want to meet him first, but that she thought it might be OK.
So, I got back on the phone and informed him of my mothers reply.
“Of course” He said sounding incredibly gallant
And he mentioned that he would stop by my home over the weekend.
I said that would be great and I looked forward to seeing him and hung up as quickly as I could.
That Saturday, he came by with Keith, Grayson and their friend, Tommy*. They all came in and met my mother, who can be a bit formidable with her intense intellect. They asked if they could take me with them for the afternoon. These four young men were very straight-laced, Keith was president of the young Republicans club and with Grayson was one of the top debate teams in the state, Tommy was in band. All had the air of being boy scouts, and so my mother let me go with them.
I sat in back smashed between Grayson and Antonio. Grayson was one of those boys who everyone wanted to cuddle with, he has an engaging smile and a quick wit that complemented his keen mind. And since I knew him from school he was my comfort zone… Antonio made me nervous… all of my prior experience with him had been as a gawky third wheel on his outings with Jovanna… though most of those had always also included Keith, Grayson and Tommy as well as some of Jovanna’s, and perhaps mine, other female friends.
This was new territory. I had no clue as to how I should behave… I was not 100% sure his intentions were straightforward… after all, he was handsome and I was a total goofball. My 15 year old self was in between two cute boys in the back seat of a station wagon and I was so out of my comfort zone. This, it seems, was the start of my very first date.
First love is a little foolish and a lot of curiosity.
~George Bernard Shaw
…to be continued.
* = not a real name