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Safe, Reliable Insanity, Since 1961!
Honest. I'm still me!

 

There are other, more coherent memories, as well. For example, in 1971 we moved to a tiny northern California town called Adin. It was there that I spent most of my childhood, and most of my "first taste of" experiences occurred. I met my First Love there, and although it was over thirty years ago, I still think of Susan from time to time.

She was visiting her grandmother over the summer from Lake Isabella, California, and was walking to the swimming hole at the north end of town. I was in the yard, TRYING not to get the yard mowed as she passed by. She smiled shyly and waved, and I was struck dumb by that same face that still lives with me to this day. Needless to say, I wasn't paying attention and I ran the lawn mower into a tree, nearly falling over it. She giggled and walked on, and I was left to stew in my embarrassment. Who was this girl? I'd never seen her before, and she was clearly the most beautiful creature I had ever seen in my life!

Of course, at age 12, I hadn't really "seen" that many girls that were "beautiful". In point of fact, I really hadn't "noticed" girls at all, until she walked by. But boy, was I noticing now! She had the brightest blue eyes, and her hair was as dark as night. She had a glow about her that I couldn't define, and the whole, wide world suddenly revolved around her. I left the mower right where it was, and decided it was time to go for a swim. I wouldn't even be surprised if I had left the silly thing running. I darted in the back door, spied a towel sitting on top of the washing machine in the laundry room and scooped it up, jetted back out the door and pelted off for the creek.

At that time, my Dad owned the Chevron gas station in town, and it was on the way to the swimming hole. My Dad was outside, checking the fluids in a car at the pumps and spotted me with my towel in my hands. He had given me the job of mowing the lawn just an hour before, and while it was a job easily completed in that time frame, he knew that I couldn't have finished by then. So he called me over, and told me to wait in the office till the customers he was dealing with were gone. When he returned to the office, he started to lecture me about responsibility when something in my face must have stopped him. He looked at me for so long with an intent, searching gaze that I thought he must have lost his mind or something. His expression suddenly softened, and he just said, "Go on. Get out of here. And make SURE that lawn is all mowed before I get home!"

Well, I didn't need telling twice! I zoomed out the door and ran for the creek, but before I could get more than a dozen feet, Dad yelled to me "Hey, wait! Get back here!" I was doomed! I stopped, turned and slowly trudged back to my Dad, wondering what he was going to do now, fully expecting him to say that he had changed his mind and to go finish the lawn, but he just handed me a five dollar bill and said, "Get you and her each a soda," and he turned back into the station.

I was shocked! How had he known!? I knew, even then, that news travels fast in a small town like Adin, but this was too much! Gazing up at my Dad with a new-found admiration, even awe, I jotted across the tiny main street, and slipped into the general store to grab something to drink with a smile on my face.

The store was run by Dick and Dorothy Campbell, a nice couple who had a son that was a couple of years younger than I was. Dorothy was behind the counter, and she was like everyone's favorite aunt. She was the kind of person that you just felt you could say anything to, and not have to worry about being judged. Unfortunately, she was also the town gossip, though I didn't fully understand this, at the time. She smiled at me and asked me what she could get me. I gave her my usual answer of "well, not much more than five dollars on the black market", and we both laughed. Then I told her of this girl I had seen, and that I had never seen her before. She replied, "Oh, that's Lois's grand-daughter, Susan. Up visiting from Central Cal. Pretty little thing. And about your age, too. You should go look her up and make her feel welcome. She'll be here for the summer."

Suddenly I was all questions, asking Dorothy everything I could think of about this mysterious visitor. She just smiled benignly as the queries tumbled out of my mouth without end. Finally, as I stopped just long enough to catch my breath, she just gestured behind me and said, "Why don't you ask her yourself?" I turned, and was horrified to see her, standing behind me, eyes wide, with wonder or horror, I didn't know. I was doomed! My tiny little world began crashing all around me, and I longed desperately for some place to escape.

Suddenly she seemed to recover, and she smiled. Having seen dozens of old love theme type movies, and read stacks of old books, I was familiar with the concept of a smile "lighting up the room". however, this was the first time I ever actually saw it happen, and I was smitten anew by this girl. I had visions of an entire host of angels above her, singing praises to God Almighty for bringing her into this world, and I felt like joining them. I stood there, transfixed, unable to move, speak or even think.

Suddenly, I heard Dorothy's voice, cutting through my reverie, saying "Good morning, Miss Susan. How are you this morning? This is David. His Daddy owns the gas station across the street. Say hello, David." I quickly stammered out a quick hello, followed by, "It's n-nice to meet you." I tried to flash her a smile, but could only manage a nervous grin. She noticed my towel and asked "Are you going swimming? I wanted to go, but Grandma said I can't swim alone, and there's nobody down there to swim with."

Dorothy smiled and exclaimed that that was a wonderful idea, and Susan looked at me with a mildly pleading expression. I said "Sure." Suddenly I remembered why I was here. I also saw that Susan was carrying a bottle of Coke 'She drinks COKE!' I thought exultantly. So I blurted out an offer to buy her soda, "as a 'welcome to Adin' present," I lamely added. I was doomed! Why was I being such an IDIOT? I couldn't look at this girl without getting lost in her eyes, and every time I tried to say something, I lost like 100 IQ. This was bad.

I really needn't have worried, I found out later. But for now I was sweating not just bullets but missiles! But she smiled, and said, "Why that's so sweet!", as she touched my arm gently. 'She touched me!', I wanted to shout to the whole world. Instead, I bought two Cokes, and we headed for the swimming hole.

More to come...