morning my neighbor and I started walking at 6 a.m. Because
my neighbor is new to Santa Fe, I gave him my usual running
commentary about what businesses, when I was growing up here,
occupied the various buildings along the way.
About two blocks from my home we passed a building that now
houses a bakery, a clothing store and a business owned by the
brother of the well-known New York radio talk jock Don Imus.
As I was telling my neighbor that the building was originally
a movie theater, I remembered that one of the most embarrassing
moments in my young life happened there.
When I was in the seventh grade, my best friend and I invited,
after much thought, two female classmates to go to the movies.
Since my buddy was spending the night at my house, the plan
was to have my mother drive us over to pick up the young ladies,
who also were spending the night together, and take us all to
the movies. In the final development, one of my mother's good
friends joined her, and the two of them took the four of us.
My friend and I and our dates sat in the back seat, making nervous
conversation. Nervous partly because my mother and her friend
were undoubtedly listening to what my friend and I-two dudes
way too cool to be driven around by a mom-might be saying to
our dates, who somehow were much easier to talk to at school
than in a crowded back seat, with our bodies touching each others'.
The trip from the girls' house to the movie was quite short,
but it seemed to take an eternity. FINALLY my mother stopped
in front of the theater and let us out. As the car drove away
and the cool night air hit my face, it was a welcome relief
to get away from my mom, her friend and the feeling of claustrophobia.
Little did I know what lay ahead.
I was the last one to get out of the car, and by the time I
did, my friend was already buying tickets for him and his date.
In those days a movie cost 20 cents. Since we had planned this
outing down to the last detail, it was agreed that each of us
would take a dollar. That would buy tickets for our dates and
ourselves, with enough left over for Cokes, popcorn and a phone
call to let my mom know when we were ready to be picked up.
Stepping up to the ticket window, I reached in my pocket-and
discovered that my dollar wasn't there. Panic! Frantically I
searched my blue jeans, including the watch pocket, a favorite
hiding place. Nothing! Under my date's perplexed gaze I dropped
out of the line, ran over and stopped my friend just before
he got to the ticket taker, and told him of my predicament.
Without a hint of offering to lend me 40 cents so that my date
and I could get in, he instead handed me a nickel and suggested
that I call my mom. I returned to my annoyed date. With pain
in my soul and my face the color of a fire engine, I told her
I had forgotten my money, but quickly added that my friend had
loaned me a nickel to call my mom to bring it. The girl folded
her arms across her chest, which told me that things were not
going well. I ran to the phone to solve the problem as fast
I called home. No answer. I hung up and tried again, hoping
that in my haste I had dialed the wrong number. Again no answer.
I glanced at my date, who showed signs of increasing impatience.
I snapped back to the phone. Then for the longest 20 minutes
of my life I stood there, continually dropping the nickel down
the slot, dialing home time after time. When my mother, who
had driven her friend around the Plaza before going home, finally
answered, I felt a chill in my spine from the perspiration that
had built up during the ordeal. After telling my mom only that
I had forgotten my dollar, and not mentioning my embarrassment,
I hung up the telephone, composed myself as best I could, and
slowly turned my burning face toward my date once again. It
took my mother only a few minutes to deliver the money, but
by that time the night was in shambles.
The theater had a unique set of seats that I have never since
seen anywhere else. The aisle seat of every other row was wide
enough for two people. "Love-bird" seats is what we
called them. By the time my date and I got in, my friend and
his date were well ensconced in one of these seats. I was happy
when my date led the way straight to them and squeezed in next
to her friend. I slid in beside her, but never even tried to
touch her. I'm sure that made her happy too. Even if the whole
lost-money ordeal had not happened, I'm not sure I was cool
enough to have sat in the love-bird seats anyway!
When the movie finally ended, I called my mom to come pick us
up. I was never so relieved as when we left the house where
the girls were staying. And then I started a sharp conversation
with my so-called best friend.
Have a great day.