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The First Date

 

Copyright © 1984 Ann Carol Ulrich

 

"I'M GOING TO HATE this year," groaned Margie as she and Priscilla boarded the bus. "We're not even in one class together."

Priscilla Gardner took a seat and made room for her best friend. She had to agree with Margie. She wasn't pleased with any of her classes -- except maybe one.

"I've made up my mind I'm not going to worry about boys this year," pouted Margie. "I'll study hard and when we get to college there will be time for dating."

Priscilla wondered how Margie could be so sure. She often thought Margie could be more attractive if only she would sit up straighter and perhaps wear a little lipstick. Priscilla considered herself to be reasonably attractive, yet neither she nor Margie had been asked out on a single date.

"I mean, it's depressing considering here we are, seniors in high school, and destined to be old maids," Margie continued.

Priscilla stared out the window as the bus rolled out of the parking lot. At one time she had blamed her misfortune on the fact that she hung around with Margie. But the two of them had always been close, and Priscilla valued Margie's friendship too much to drop it without good reason. At least there was one thing she didn't have in common with Margie, and that was D.L.

Margie licked her lips. They always seemed to be chapped. "How's your class with D.L.?" she asked as though she had been reading Priscilla's mind.

Priscilla stared straight ahead. "He didn't show up until the end of the hour."

"Really? What did you do all hour?"

"Read." She was relieved when Margie changed the subject. She didn't want to discuss D.L. He was her English teacher from last year, Mr. Dwayne Lipman, but she and Margie called him D.L. They had both been in his class as juniors. This year Priscilla had him for independent study. It had been D.L.'s idea.

That morning when she had walked into the room to find empty seats, she had been skeptical about devoting a whole class period each day to her writing. But then D.L. had walked in ten minutes before the bell and she had changed her mind.

"I'll grade you just on what you write," he had told her. "You  don't have to turn in any project, and if you're not in the mood to write, you don't have to." Then, with a twinkle in his blue eyes, he had smiled and said, "You can even loaf if you want to."

"PRISS, AREN'T YOU GETTING off the bus?"

Priscilla shook off the reverie and followed Margie.

"Say, what did you think about that cute tall guy who has his locker next to yours?" asked Margie as they walked home from the bus stop. "He's new, isn't he? What a hunk. I think somebody said his name is Greg."

Priscilla's thoughts were still full of D.L. as she only half listened to Margie's idle chatter.

THE NEXT DAY Priscilla brought D.L. some material she had already written. Included was a play she had written for her sister's fourth grade class. After D.L. read it, he handed it back to her with a straight face.

"How could you stand to read that?" Priscilla asked modestly.

D.L. looked at her and said, "How could you stand to write it?"

Last year in junior English, Priscilla started having the crush on D.L. It seemed a lot of girls did. After all, Mr. Lipman was young and handsome, plus he was a bachelor. Priscilla hadn't tried to like him. He had singled her out.

It began after she sold one of her poems to a national magazine and a reporter from the local paper wrote up a feature article on her. She had been embarrassed for weeks afterwards. D.L. had read the article, and started making comments to her after class each day. Nice things. Personal things that made her feel important and just a bit tingly when she walked down the hall to her next class.

Then as the year drew closer to its end, D.L. said he wanted to help Priscilla with her writing. He gave her pamphlets and books on writing. He helped her enter a national conest. Then he asked if she wanted to be his senior assistant next year -- right in front of the rest of the class.

"Are you really going to do it?" Margie had asked her.

"No, I don't think so," Priscilla had replied.

"He wants you to."

"Well, I don't want to." Priscilla had been afraid of what other people might think of her. Although she confided in Margie about a lot of her intimate feelings, D.L. had been one subject she had kept closed. Yet, she sensed Margie still knew what she was starting to feel toward him.

Finally, when D.L. found out she didn't want the assistantship, he suggested the independent study. "You should be getting credit for your writing," he told her.

AFTER SCHOOL Priscilla couldn't open her locker. She pounded the door as people swarmed in the hall in their rush to leave the building. What a time for this to happen, she thought.

Suddenly, somebody stood over her. "Anything I can do to help?" asked a masculine voice.

Priscilla spun around and looked up into the deep brown eyes of a curly, dark-haired young man who smiled. She realized he was that new boy in her science class.

"Locker jammed?" he guessed. "Here, stand aside." As she did he gave Priscilla's locker one swift, hard kick. "Now try it."

Priscilla reached forward and opened the locker.

"Works every time," said the boy.

"Hurry up, Priss! We're going to miss the bus!" Margie shifted a load of books in her plump arms as she waited impatiently by the locker.

Priscilla smiled up at the tall boy. "Thanks," she said. "My name is..."

"Priscilla Gardner. Yes, I know." The boy grinned. "I'm Greg Monahan, at your service."

THE NEXT DAY, Priscilla sat alone in the classroom for the third time since school opened. She couldn't help but wonder if he had really meant it when he had said he wanted to help her. Another hour was almost gone. Then in walked D.L. and Priscilla sat upright in her chair. It was three minutes before the bell.

"What have you got for me to read next?" he asked.

Priscilla took out her folder. "It's not a play at least," she said. "Do you have time?"

"Not really. All my time is planned and I'm very busy."

Priscilla blushed. "I mean, do you have time to read this?"

D.L. climbed up onto a desk in front of her. The way he looked at her made her skin prickle. "Sure, I've got time for that. My time is taken up, but you're included in it."

She could feel her cheeks smoldering. Then the bell rang for the next class. Priscilla gathered up her books and left, aware of D.L.'s eyes as they followed her out the door. Out in the hall, in the rush of noise and laughter, Priscilla wondered why she felt this way. She was seventeen now, more grown up than last year, and besides, he had to be close to ten years older than she was.

When she walked into the science room, she almost didn't see Greg Monahan because of the daze she was in over D.L. Greg flashed her a big grin. After school, when Priscilla was back at her locker, Greg appeared a minute later. "Are you going to the game tonight?" he asked her.

Priscilla nodded.

Margie showed up just then. "Hurry up, Priss! The bus!"

"Maybe I could meet you there," Greg told Priscilla.

She could hardly believe it. Was Greg actually asking her on a date? "i'd love to," she said.

"What was that all about?" asked Margie as they climbed onto the bus.

"Greg's meeting me at the game." Priscilla felt as if she were floating on a cloud. A boy had asked her out. Her life was not doomed.

But Greg never showed up at the game that night. Priscilla kept an eye out for him while she sat with her friends. She felt crushed at first, but then she noticed D.L. standing on the sidelines. His soft blond hair was ruffled by the wind.

During halftime, Priscilla, Margie and some other friends went to buy some soft drinks. Priscilla saw D.L. and he came up to her. "Hi, Priscilla," he said. Priscilla could feel everybody watching and they all stopped chattering to listen in. "Enjoying the game?" D.L. asked.

"Of course." She didn't know if she was shivering from the night air or the excitement of being close to him.

"What's the matter, you cold?" He grinned at her. Priscilla shook her head. "Better not let those fingers freeze." He reached out and rubbed her fingertips. "You need those for your writing."

It was all in jest, Priscilla knew, but after he left and she walked back to the bleachers with her friends, nobody spoke for a few minutes. Then, one of the girls said, "Priscilla and Lipman have a thing going." Priscilla pretended she hadn't heard.

THE NEXT DAY at home, Priscilla got a call from Greg Monahan. He apologized for not meeting her at the game. "I had to work," he explained. He worked at a gas station and had to fill in for someone who got sick. "But are you doing anything tonight?" he asked.

Priscilla said no. The butterflies rose in her stomach.

"Well, let's go see a movie," said Greg. She could hardly contain herself, she was so elated. She hoped Greg couldn't hear her heart pounding. She said okay and he told her he'd come by at seven-thirty.

 

READ PART TWO of THE FIRST DATE

 

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