PictureMy Senior Prom 1990
Okay, y'all, because I love you and because a few of you asked for it, here is the next installment in my book.  Really, it's because I'm tired and don't feel like writing anything tonight, but still...

This is Chapter 2 of the book I may never write.  Don't start here.  If you haven't read the first chapter, go HERE and then HERE.  Otherwise, you'll be lost.  (Not really.  My life isn't that complicated, but still, read the first part.)

Our first date was to a steakhouse in town.  Mr. E picked me up in his red Firebird.  I was breathless as I saw him approaching my front door.  He came in and met my parents.  My mother insisted on taking our picture.  This was my very first date with a boy, and she wanted photographic proof.  I was horrified that she wanted a picture, but now I’m really glad I have it.  We were so sweet and innocent, and I was so skinny.  It was a good time in life.

At that time, I was not a big steak eater, and I had no idea what to order in a steakhouse.  It wasn’t a fancy steakhouse, mind you.  It was more of a roadhouse type of place.  I ordered pasta.  I couldn’t really eat anyway because I was so nervous.  Mr. Everything ordered the biggest steak I have ever seen anyone eat.  I was astounded as he ate the whole thing and part of my pasta.  This was my first exposure to how much a teenage boy could eat, and I was amazed.  It was amazing how easy the conversation was.  We were both nervous, but we always had lots to say.  I don’t even remember what we talked about.  I just knew that I could talk to him forever.

Our next several dates were nothing astounding.  We went out to dinner several times.  Then, we went to see a movie.  It was “Cocktail” with Tom Cruise.  At the ticket theater, I got asked for an ID, probably because I looked like I was 12 years old.  I could not produce a valid ID, so Mr. Everything had to buy my ticket for me.  Talk about embarrassing.  Since I couldn’t help my age, I decided not to worry about it but to enjoy the evening.  Every time we held hands, I blushed and felt like my heart would jump out of my chest.

Finally, after about four dates, I decided it was time for our first kiss.  (Notice how I said "I decided."  I was kind of controlling back then.  What's that you say?  Some things never change?  That's not nice.)  This was a big deal for me, because I had been “saving" myself.  Another boy had tried to kiss me once, and I turned my head right at the last second.  He ended up kissing my ear.  He was kind of creepy, and I did not want his lips to be involved in my first kiss.  We didn’t call ourselves boyfriend and girlfriend for very long after that.

When I decided to honor Mr. Everything by letting him be my first kiss, I told him that I wanted to kiss him.  That’s how lame I really was.  He had driven me home and was turning into my driveway when I said, “I want you to kiss me.”  He said okay and tried to lean over.  I said, “NOT HERE!  My parents might see!”  He backed out of the driveway and drove to the end of the street and around the corner.  There, he stopped the car and said, “Is this okay?”  I decided it was a good place for a kiss.  He was a patient man.  Mr. Everything leaned over and kissed me.  I can’t say it was a good kiss.  I can’t even say I saw fireworks or stars.  It was just a peck, but it was my first kiss, and I had shared it with him.  I turned about 12 shades of red, and he took me home.

A few weeks later, I decided that I loved this boy.  Somewhere along the way, an English teacher had lied to me and told me I could write poetry.  I decided to write a poem to the Mr. to tell him that I loved him. 

I can’t remember the whole masterpiece, but I know it started with, “How do you say you love someone when you don’t know if he cares?  You want to tell him how you feel but you don’t know if he’s there.”  Beautiful, isn’t it?  What was I thinking?

We had been on a date.  I don’t remember where we had gone, but he drove me home.  It was late enough that he didn’t come in with me.  I’m pretty sure I was pushing my 10:00 curfew to the brink of disaster.  I had folded the poem in the fancy fold that girls do when passing notes in school.  This was a mature moment in my history.

I gave him the note, and he started to open it.  I said, “No!  Don’t open it!”  He asked the logical question, “Then, how am I supposed to read it?”  I blushed and said I didn’t want him to read it until he got him.  Mr. Everything was very patient.  He took orders like this from me all the time and never questioned my sanity (Or, at least, he didn’t question it aloud.).  I instructed him to go home, read the note and then call me. 

You see, I had this all worked out in my head.  He was going to go home, read the note and call me to pledge his undying love.  It was going to be beautiful.  I knew my plan would come together nicely.  (This was when I was still new to this relationship.  Over time, I would learn that, with Mr. E, my plan rarely came together nicely.)

I waited by the phone.  I had it calculated.  It took him 16 minutes to get home.  He would have to speak to his parents for, let’s say, ten minutes.  Then, he would go upstairs and read the poem.  That would take about two minutes, but I would give him ten since he would want to re-read my beautiful verse a few times.  By 10:36 PM, he should be calling me. 

So, I waited.  It was 10:36, 10:40, 10:45, 11:00.  At first, I was devastated.  I had apparently scared this perfect boy away by pledging my undying love for him.  By 11:30, I was just mad.  How dare he not call me?  Even if it was just to tell me he didn’t feel the same way, who did this boy think he was???  I could do better anyway, so I went to bed.  I told him off several times in my dreams.

The next day was Saturday.   We had planned to go to the mall around 11:00.  At 10:00, he called to make sure we were still on.  The conversation went something like this:

Me:  Hello?

E: Hi!  How are you today?

Me: Fine.

E: Okay.  How did you sleep?

Me: Fine.

E:  Um, okay?  Are we still on for the mall today?

Me: Nope.

E: Um, okay?  Did I do something?

Me: Oh, no.  You didn’t do ANYTHING.  I guess it would have killed you to call me after you read my note.

E: What note?

And, with that, I should have known how the rest of my life would go.  Bless his heart, I love that man, but memory is not one of his strengths.

I can’t type what came next in the conversation, because I think it was a lot of random words and phrases.  I remember wanting to jump through the phone and choke him.  After a minute or two of ranting, I asked him if he really didn’t read the note or if he was just toying with my emotions.  He realized I was serious about the note and went to search his pockets from the night before.  “Oh, here it is,” he said, “Hold on.  I’ll read it.”  I quickly said not to read it with me on the phone, and I got off the phone.  I really was the epitome of mature.

Luckily, this time, Mr. E remembered to call me back.  My heart was pounding out of my chest when I answered.  I said, “Hello?”  He said, “I love you, too.”  And, just like that, we started a lifetime together.  

That's the end of this chapter.  Eventually, someday,  I'll share the whole book with you.  I can't keep giving it away though, or you'll know what happens in the end.  Oh, that's right, you sort-of already do.  What you don't know is all the stuff that came between then and now.  It's a lot of stuff.  It will probably take me decades to write it.  (That's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it.)

I hope you enjoyed the beginning of The Beginning!       -Al

Twenty years ago at this time, it was all over.  I had planned my wedding for an entire year, and it was over just like that.  I cried after we left the wedding reception because I felt like I had missed it.  My special day had come and gone, and I hadn’t enjoyed it.  It was at that point that I knew I should have taken the money.

You see, my parents offered us money if we would just elope.  It sounds crazy, I know, but I think they were very wise.  My sister and I got married within 6 months of each other.  Daddy told us what he had in savings and said, “You get half, and you get half.”  He and Mama told us that if we would rather have the money, we could have a great honeymoon with it.  I, being a 19 year old dreamer, chose to take the wedding. 

I planned my wedding for a full year before it happened.  Mr. Everything and I had known we were getting married since I was 16 years old.  We just had to wait until I was old enough that my parents would not freak out.  We knew our wedding date for a year and a half before it happened.  May 22, 1993 was the day.  I have no idea why we picked May.  We picked the 22nd because our dating anniversary was on August 22 and my birthday was on December 22.  I figured Mr. E could remember our anniversary if I just kept the number the same. 

As May, 1992 approached, I kept reminding Mr. E that he had to propose to me during that month.  I wanted a full year to plan my wedding.  I have no idea why.  I just did.  I had been sneaking wedding magazines past my parents and into my bedroom for months, and I was ready to come out with it.  Mr. E teased me that he was going to wait until May 31 to propose.  Actually, he did it on May 1.  I’m pretty sure he didn’t want to listen to me nag him all month.  Not much to his surprise, I said “yes,” and the wedding planning began.

You can't see Micah's ponytail, but it's there!
I did my own flowers.  My family made the food for the reception.  I didn’t do my own cake, but I should have.  The cake I got was awful.  I told the lady what I didn’t want, but I’m pretty sure she heard me say, “I want.”  It was the opposite of what I asked for, and it was U-G-L-Y.  It didn’t even taste good.  There was nothing redeeming about this cake, and the groom’s cake was equally as bad.

Any who…  I was 20 when we got married, and I was bossy!  I didn’t know it at the time, but looking back, I really was.  I was very concerned about everyone else’s feelings, so I’m pretty sure I didn’t turn into a Bridezilla.  I was too much of a people pleaser for that.  However, I was pretty specific with my wishes.  I did NOT want Mr. E to have a bachelor party.  I just didn’t see a need for that.  I wanted Micah, Mr. E’s best friend, to get his ponytail cut off.  Neither of those wishes were granted.

Don't you love the curling ribbon?

We had our rehearsal dinner at church in the fellowship hall.  My in-laws hosted a nice dinner for us.  (By the way, I’m pretty sure I never thanked them, so I’m saying it now.  Thank you to my in-laws for their hard work and contribution!)  After the dinner, Micah and a few other guys decided they were going to kidnap Mr. E for a bachelor party.  They literally carried him out of the building.  I was furious!  I told him, with hands on hips, that he better not do anything stupid like get himself killed and he better not be late for the wedding.  

The day of the wedding arrived, and all my plans were made and ready.  We had decorated the reception hall the day before, so everything was set.  The ugly cake and the handsome groom just had to show up, and we were good to go.  

I went early in the morning for a nail and hair appointment.  I had Peanut M&M’s for breakfast.  That’s always a great way to start the day.  I had left my dress hanging in a classroom upstairs at church.  It was pressed and beautiful with the train spread out so it wouldn’t get wrinkled.  When I got to the church, I discovered that Mr. E had left a card and a gift for me on the train of my dress.  That is actually one of the most romantic things he’s ever done.  Come to think of it, I wonder if his mother told him to do that.  (If so, thanks!)

I wasn’t nervous until I heard the people.  We were in a classroom above the auditorium, so I could hear as people started arriving.  Then, I thought I was going to pass out.  That may have also had something to do with the breakfast of champions that I had enjoyed that morning.

My bridesmaids, Willow and my sister, were there and dressed.  The photographer took all the traditional photos of the bride’s side.  He went to take the groom’s pictures and came back to tell me that the groom had not arrived yet.  That was another of my demands that wasn’t met.  The man was late for his wedding.  He finally showed up, looking tired, but he was there.  Later, when I asked for true confessions from his bachelor party, he told me he ended up being the designated driver because he didn’t drink.  He was such a good boy.

The most awkward walk of my life...
As I walked down the aisle, I remember thinking, “Where do I look?”  That was the most awkward walk of my life.  Was it “left together, right together,” or should I just walk naturally?  Should I look at my flowers?  Should I look at the guests?  Should I look at the groom?  Could I just pass out and be done with it?

The ceremony was quick.  My father-in-law performed it, and he took my wishes very seriously.  I had told him what to say, and he said only that and nothing more.  I didn’t know anything about preaching a wedding, so it was over in about 5 minutes.  The photographer had just gotten upstairs to take overview shots when he had to run back down to take our departure picture.

My father-in-law had teased me for months that he was going to say “Obey,” in the vows.  I did not want the word “Obey.”  Actually, I still don’t like that word.  I’m not a dog.  I’ll cooperate.  I’ll even compromise.  But obey?  I don’t think so.  During the ceremony, I was so stressed out about whether he was going to say that word or not.  He had teased me that if he said it, I had to repeat it after him.  I had practiced in my mind skipping right over the word.  Luckily, he didn’t say it, so I didn’t have to skip it.

The look on my face says it all.
After the ceremony, the photographer took pictures; lots of pictures.  That man moved slower than any human I’ve ever met. (Except maybe the Goose when we are running late for an appointment or for church.)  My mother kept commenting that he was taking so long that the guests were leaving.  She went to the fellowship hall and came back a few times to say, “Ten more people have left.”  I know she wasn’t stressing me out on purpose, but she was doing a really good job of it.  I cared so much what people thought.  Were they leaving because they were mad that we took too long?  Were they leaving because I didn’t look at them as I walked down the aisle?  Were they leaving because the cake was so ugly?  Were they leaving because the pig shaped groom’s cake was hideous?  I didn’t care for my sake that they were leaving, but I wanted to be sure everyone was happy.

This was NOT what I meant...
By the time we got to the reception, I was so overwhelmed with worry.  I vaguely remember cutting the cake and taking a sip of punch.  (Luckily, Mr. E did listen to my demand that cake would not be shoved in my face.  I had spent way too long getting beautiful to have someone smear icing all over me.)   I barely remember speaking to people.  I remember that all I wanted to do was look at, kiss on and talk to my new husband, but I was so afraid of offending anyone.  I’m not sure Mr. E and I said two words to each other during the whole reception.  I remember at one point asking him what we should be doing, and he said he thought we should talk to people.

Then, it was time to leave, so I went to change into my going away outfit.  Mr. E’s one demand for the whole wedding was that no one do any permanent damage to his car.  That demand was not met either.  At least we were together in the fact that no one was listening to us.  We got out to the parking lot, and his beautiful red Firebird had shaving cream on the top.  I saw all his blood rush to his face.  And to this day, I am not ready to discuss the condoms we found inside the car.

I tried to say goodbye to everyone, because I did not want to offend anyone.  We got in the car and headed straight to the Mobil station for a car wash.  As the water came down the windshield, the tears began to come down my face.  I had just missed my wedding.  I had worried so much about what everyone else thought, felt and wanted that I had not enjoyed even one minute of it.  At the same time, I couldn’t remember if I had thanked my parents and family and friends who had worked so hard for my big day.

Mr. Everything, being the patient man that he was, obliged my wish to go back to the church.  I needed to tell everyone thank you.  I needed to tell them goodbye.  When we got there, people were vacuuming and washing dishes.  My guilt was increased.  I wanted to help vacuum, but Mr. E wouldn’t let me.  For once, I obeyed.

We left and headed to enjoy a nice dinner and our wedding night at Chalet Suzanne in Lake Wales, Florida.  I cried again after dinner.  I’m pretty sure Mr. Everything was wondering what he had gotten himself into.  Or maybe, after 5 years of dating, he already knew.

The next day, I woke up and realized I was someone’s wife.  I cried about that too.  We headed to the airport to fly out to Man O’ War, Abaco, Bahamas to enjoy a week of wedded bliss.  I think by the second day of the honeymoon, I started to relax and to stop worrying about whether or not people liked my wedding.  Little did I know that, 20 years later, I would look back and wonder why it even mattered. 

If I could go back in time, I would tell my 20 year old self not to worry so much.  I would tell myself not to care what people thought, and I would say to have a small wedding at the beach.  Better yet, I would tell myself to take the money and run!    -Al

What you see here is a real, bona fide photo of our very first date.  My mother insisted on taking a picture.  At the time, I was horrified.  Now, I'm really glad to have it.  I plan to embarrass the Beetle in the same way, as soon as he gets a girl to go out with him.  (Hopefully, I won't scare her off.)

I actually like my hair in this picture, but what was I wearing???  Did I actually wear a pseudo-business suit on my first date?  The boy must have really liked me for me, because it wasn't for my fashion sense!

Anyway, the continuation of yesterday's tale:

On August 22, 1988, we all went to the Magic Kingdom at Disney World with the youth group.  We rode on the church bus.  Micah did not go; I’m not sure why.  Our group for the day was Mr. Everything, Rose, Kaye and me.  It quickly became obvious that the three of us were vying for the attention of Mr. E.  The day quickly became pretty funny.  Imagine it.  Three girls who all wanted to sit by Mr. Everything were trying to be cordial to each other.  What started as a polite rivalry developed into us shoving each other out of the way to sit by him on rides.  What was even better was that, somehow, Mr. Everything was completely oblivious to the whole thing! 

Kaye bought a stupid huge sombrero with her name embroidered on it.  After about 5 minutes, she somehow convinced the Mr. to carry it for her.  He wore her hat with her name on it.  That’s when the tides turned for Kaye.  Rose and I quickly agreed that SHE was not going to get him.  Period.  Rose and I worked together and took turns sitting by Mr. Everything while very effectively keeping Kaye away from him.  SHE was not going to win.

I ended up getting to sit in front of Mr. Everything on Space Mountain.  This was before they renovated the ride, and riders sat together with the person in front leaning back on the person behind them.  I got to lean against him.  I was pretty sure that in the dark, he touched my hip.  It may have been dark in that ride, but there were fireworks going off in my mind.  At that point, I knew I had to have him as my own.  Those other girls couldn’t win because I liked this boy, and I wanted to spend every minute with him.

As the day progressed, Mr. Everything showed me more and more attention.  The other girls tried to pull him away from me, but it didn’t work.  He even made Kaye carry her own stupid sombrero.  It was a happy day.

As we were leaving the park, poor Rose was not feeling well.  She had sun poisoning from a hot, Florida day, and she grew seasick on the ferry ride back to the parking lot.  I don’t think she even finished explaining that she didn’t feel good before I cut her off with, “Oh.  Okay.  I’ll give you the whole bus seat to yourself.  I’ll find somewhere else to sit so you can lie down.”  It just so happened that there was an empty seat by Mr. Everything, so I sacrificed myself by sitting there.  In the dark on the bus ride home, we ended up holding hands.  I was over the moon!  I really, really liked this boy.  I’m not sure when my feelings switched from indifference to strong like, but they did.  We held hands all the way back to the church building.  His hand was sweaty, and so was mine, and it was great.

When we got back to the church, I went home with Rose to spend the night at her house.  In her room, I told her about the hand holding.  I felt bad.  I really did, because I knew she loved this boy with all her heart.  I never meant to steal him from her, and I could not even explain how or why it had happened.  I just knew that I wanted to talk to him and see him and learn about him more than I wanted to take my next breath.  As I bounced on Rose’s bed to try to release some of the adrenaline in my system, I told her that I liked him.  I gave a weak offer that, if she didn’t want me to go out with him, I wouldn’t.  I wanted to mean it, but I really didn’t.  There was nothing that would stop me from loving this boy.  Rose wisely said she knew she could not stand between us.  She reminded me (and it was true) that she was not dating him and that he had shown no interest in her.  She said we would still be friends and that I had her blessing to go out with him.  She was a good friend.    

I hope you've enjoyed this little glimpse into my story.  I currently have about 4 more chapters written, but I have to save them!  I hope, one day, I'll have my whole story written.  It's just really hard to get it written, because I'm currently still living it.  Maybe when I die, I'll get it all done! :0)  -Al

So, here it is folks...the much anticipated (not really) world (my website) premier of the first chapter of my book.  Enjoy it, because this may be all you get for a while.  At this rate, the book will be finished in the year 2020, but at least I have it started. (Baby steps...baby steps...)  The names have been changed to protect the innocent.  Take a deep breath, because I know you're excited...Here it is:

Not Your Average Beginning

I’ve always joked that I fell in love with the top of his head.  It’s not really true.  I didn’t even like him back then.  Mr. Everything and I had geometry class together.  He was a senior.  I was a sophomore.  He had given up on geometry because of the terrible teacher we had, so he spent most of his time asleep on his desk.  I really did see the top of his head more than I saw his face.

We sat across the room from each other.  I would have never met him if it hadn’t been for our mutual friend, Rose.  You see, while I had no interest whatsoever in him, Rose had been in love with Mr. E for years.  She already knew he was Everything.  I did not.  She had their children named and their lives planned.  It was just a matter of getting him on board.

I was learning to drive, and I was so excited about it.  I would rush into second period and excitedly tell Rose about my driving experience of the day.  She patiently listened to me.  She was a good friend.  I drove the same streets everyday.  The driving adventure did not vary much from morning to morning, but she always listened and acted happy for me.  I would find her over at Mr. E’s desk.  Of course, she was there, because she wanted to talk to him.  I would talk excitedly, and he would roll his eyes.  He was a Senior with a capital S, and he had THE Firebird, his very own car.  He paid for it, and it was candy apple red.  He was way too cool for me, and he made sure to let me know.

Sometimes, during class, I would feel eyes on me.  I would look back, and he would be glaring at me.  Come to find out later, those were his flirting eyes.  No wonder he wasn’t taken.  He had no idea how to flirt.  Of course, neither did I.  I had never even kissed a boy or been on a real date, so I didn’t know the difference.  The idea that Mr. E liked me never even crossed my mind.  I figured he thought I was a stupid little girl.  I didn’t spend much time thinking about him, because I wasn’t really that interested in boys.  I was only fifteen.  I figured I had plenty of time.

For months, Rose would talk to me about Mr. E.  We shared three classes together.  One was geometry, where we got to see the Mr. live and in person.  Then, we had American History and Chemistry together.  Good times, good times.  Rose would pass her time between classes by looking at a photo of Mr. E.  She really was obsessed.  Before Chemistry, she would say, “Look at his eyes.  Aren’t they beautiful?”  I would give the picture a precursory glance and answer with, “Uh-huh,” or something equally as engaging.  I don’t know why Rose was nice enough to listen to my driving stories because I certainly did not listen to her banter about her undying love for Mr. E.  She was so interested in him, and he did not give her the time of day.  When he did talk to her, he picked on her and was not nice at all.  I have no idea why she did not tell him to go jump off a bridge.  I’m pretty sure I would have.  Maybe that’s why I had never had a boyfriend.

In the summer after my sophomore year, Rose invited me to church.  I walked in the first day and found Mr. Everything in all his glory.  He still did not speak to me and glared at me when looking at me.  (He really did need to look in the mirror and practice his facial expressions.)  For the months of June and July, I continued going to church with Rose.  Sunday mornings quickly turned into Sunday nights and Wednesday nights too.  I started going to activities with the youth group, and I was having a great time.  I slowly became friends with Mr. E.  His friend, Micah, was visiting the church, too.  Mr. E, Micah, Rose and I would go out to eat together, and we would ride in THE Firebird.  Rose and I would be in the back seat with the boys up front.  If we tried to talk to them, they would turn the radio up louder and louder until we finally gave up.  They were such charmers.  Micah was single, too, in case you couldn’t guess that.

Somehow, somewhere, my feelings for Mr. E began to change.  We were friends.  I liked him, and my heart fluttered a little when I saw him.  I did not really consider the possibility of dating him though.  He was 18 and had graduated.  He was practically a man, and I was just a little girl in my mind.  I noticed that he was just a little nicer to me than he was to Rose.There was a group of us who began to hang out together.  Mr. E, Micah, Rose and I went out quite often with Mr. E’s ex-girlfriend, Kaye, and a few other friends.  It was comfortable, and we were all just friends.   (Tune in tomorrow for the rest of the Beginning.  I didn't want to bore you completely in one day...)  -Al