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My First Date
I was born in an older and much more conservative time than our young people are familiar with today. And my family came from an even older and more conservative viewpoint than the families that grew up around us. My parents were strict about everything, and my mother was overly protective. We were not given an allowance, we were not allowed to drink beer, and we were not allowed to drive until we were "older and more responsible." As a part of this almost Amish outlook, my mother would not allow any of us to date until we were over 18 years old. She said that dating was for marriage, and that therefore we should wait until we were older and more prepared to take on the responsibilities of marriage.

When I was a senior I went to a party not far from our house and sat and talked to a girl named Gail Smith. A junior, she was on our high school cheerleading squad. I know that some of you will conjure up images of the super model cheerleader that in most TV stories dates the handsome and highly popular quarterback. That was not her (and that was not me.) She looked nice, but not in a model sort of way. More importantly, as I sat and talked to her, I came to find that she was nice as a person, and fun to talk to. I left that party feeling pretty positive about having met her.

Coming up was the Junior Varsity Prom, not the senior prom that is the biggest event in the lives of most high school students, but a special prom for the Junior and Senior athletes that had earned a letter on one of the varsity teams. While my mom worked the 3 to 11 p.m. shift at the hospital, every night she came home and checked on each of us to see that we were safely in our beds. One night as she walked into my room to check on me, I told her about the Junior Varsity Prom and asked her if I could go. I was surprised when she told me that I could, and she asked me if I had anyone in mind. I told her about Gail.

Gail was pretty happy to go. Since I didn't drive, we doubled with another couple. The dance was held at the country club which nestled in the middle of our local golf course. I was pretty impressed with the band that played for us. "Chicago" was really big at the time, and this band had a brass section, beautifully playing some of my favorite songs including Beginnings, I'm a Man, and Colour My World. After the dance we went to a strip mall and walked along the store fronts, just talking and window shopping all the closed shops. Gail and I walked arm in arm, something I had never done before. I took her home, but it was too early in this relationship for a kiss.

A day or two after the dance I got a letter from her saying that she had a college boy friend and wouldn't be able to see me again. I liked her, but I wasn't in love, she didn't break my heart. I knew what love was. You don't have to go on a date to be in love, I had already been in love a few times prior to this, and  I would be in love many times again after this.

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