"Well, I'll Be John Brown"

Real stories about folks who have blessed my life with the joy and fulfillment of laughter. Long may they live.

Location: Atlanta, Georgia, United States

A Southern Boy - Born In Alabama, Reared In Georgia, and Matriculated, Married & Initiated Into Manhood In Tennessee.

Monday, August 25, 2008

My First Date

In this writer’s high school days, during the late 60’s and early 1970’s, dating was a status symbol. If you WERE somehow able to secure regular dates with other human beings of the opposite sex, you were then, and only then, judged by your peers to be worthy of personhood. If not, then obviously you lied about your weekends, because the greatest curse of all would have been to be labeled an un-dateable nobody. Pride, ego, and your “rep” amongst your peers were all at stake – not to mention your very existence.

For everyone who has ever dated, the first time can be the best of times and/or the worst of times – all at the same time. From the initial, “what are you doing Saturday night?”, all the way to the good-night kiss, the first date is sometimes more frightening and fraught with uncertainty than is coronary by-pass surgery. Yours truly has experienced both. The latter of the two was, comparatively speaking, “duck soup.” The main difference is that during the first-date the “victim” is wide awake and painfully aware of each exhilarating, yet excruciating, moment of the procedure.

Regardless of the outcome, however, the first-date has the potential of being one of THE greatest and sweetest experiences in a young man’s life - one that fills his heart with the most precious of memories. That is exactly how it was with this writer.

Her formal name was Anna Laura Hamilton. What a great old, southern, female (and family) name. I never knew the reason, but her nickname was “Jaye.” She was blonde, as petite and adorable as a newborn Shetland pony (she probably would have more than a little difficulty appreciating this writer’s comparison of her to miniature equine), and monstrously popular with all the guys (and most of the girls) in our high school. She played saxophone in marching and concert band, and held one of THE most coveted positions associated with our school’s music program - she was a majorette.

In later years, Jaye freely admitted that one of the reasons she much preferred being a majorette to playing sax at football games was the difference in the uniforms. Amen, sister! Jaye was asked out a lot during her high school days – but rarely if ever was it because of the military-style marching outfits worn in high school band. Her majorette outfit declared to the world that God had done some mighty fine creative work in Jaye’s particular case.

I had known her for some time in contexts not related to dating or high school marching band. Jaye’s two brothers and I, along with some other high school chums, played in a rock band together. As either dumb luck or Divine providence would have it (and since her brother did not want to lug his drums all over creation just to rehearse) we always practiced in her parents’ living room. One of the great perks of practicing in the Hamilton living room was the fully functional jukebox, filled with the hits of the day, that her parents kept there. I never told Jaye this, but that incredible jukebox was probably more of a reason for this guitar player’s passion for being in that place on those evenings than even her presence was.

What a sweet thing it was, however, whenever Jaye would join us during band practice. Sometimes she came in just to listen. Sometimes she came in to flirt. And, sometimes she came in to twirl her baton and do her routines - always in sync with our renditions of tunes from super groups such as Bloodrock, The Who, and Creedence Clearwater Revival.

John Fogerty and Pete Townsend, eat your hearts out!

There were times that I, as the lead guitarist, completely lost my place in the song, playing chords that came out of who-knows-where, as she entered the room twirling that infernal baton. I was immediately and terminally smitten! I am certain my band mates could see right through my insistence that we practice at Jaye’s house at least six nights a week, every week (which NEVER happened).

We were sitting in the school library when I finally worked up the courage to ask her out. I don’t remember what brought us to the same table in the library that day. But, I DO remember the almost overwhelming power of the fragrance I encountered during that class period. The sweet, intoxicating, unmistakable smell of White Shoulders perfume floated across that library table from her to me like a wave of fresh honeysuckle in the early summer. At the time I didn’t know what her perfume was called, but I knew I had to get closer to her than across that library table in order to fully experience and familiarize myself with that potent, angelic scent.

My mind was made up – I was GOING to ask her out. Even if she said no, it would be worth the risk. If she did say no, Plan B was to ask her if I could borrow her bottle of White Shoulders long enough to coat the walls of my room with it. Either Jaye or her aroma was going to spend a Saturday evening with me somehow – and very soon.

Too, I don’t remember how I got around to popping the question. There was no begging, bribing, or other mode of coercion. This fifty-something memory recalls the young man sitting across from Jaye biting his lip, closing his eyes, sucking in his gut, sitting up straight, and before he could pass out from lack of oxygen to the brain, saying very plainly, “would you like to go to a movie Saturday night?”

The few seconds that inevitably pass between the first-date invite and the RSVP seem like death. They always play themselves out in S-L-O-W motion. They frequently involve nervous convulsions in the chest, as well as deep, red, flushing of the face and neck. On the part of the invitee, these times often result in a barrage of flimsy excuses, uncomfortable apologies, and/or bald-faced lies. This time, however…the invitation resulted in…


I sat there stunned. For a long minute I was sure I had died and gone to heaven. Did she say yes? WHY did she say yes? Do you think she means it? She’s not just jerking my chain, is she? Surely not?!

In trying to reason through these questions, in the blink of an eye - and long before the brain could fully process her surprising answer - yours truly said the only thing in response that he could think of….


“Really! ”, she said, smiling sheepishly. The gracious southern belle that Jaye was had truly come shining through. Her tone and demeanor almost seemed to say, “You big dummy, I thought you’d never ask!”

I don’t remember what I said in excusing myself to leave the table for a moment (the rest of that whole day is, frankly, a bit of a blur). My overwhelming urge was to run in breakneck fashion to the boy’s bathroom so I could throw up (in reaction to the convulsive nervousness I had experienced). Or, to fling open the bathroom window and shout boisterously to all of downtown Atlanta, “Yaaaaaaa Hooooooo…she said YES!!!!!!.”

The only thing I DO remember saying , in a very cool, collected, hip, matter-of-fact way was, “I’ll call you.”

Still in a state of joy-filled shock, I left the library with a series of first-date mountains to climb. “She said, ‘yes!’”, I whispered, “now what in the heck do I do?” This writer was a full seven months away from turning sixteen, with no driver’s license, no car, and not one single outfit of cool, “date clothes,” to his name.

And, oh yes, did I forget to mention that Jaye had just broken up with THE most extremely jealous and uncouth boyfriend that any horror movie could ever produce? None of that bothered me at the moment, though. The only thing that mattered was that she had said, “YES!!!!!”
When I called her the next night, I was a great deal more collected than in the library. After all, she was now, “conquered territory.” For at least the next few days - culminating with Saturday night - whether she knew it or not this woman was, “mine.”

During our conversation (in which I was witty, funny, and VERY cool) I asked what movie she would like to see. Maybe the then-popular “Love Story” or some other sappy, girl-movie, I thought. It didn’t matter to me what we saw. “Godzilla Gets A Day Job At Waffle House,” would have been fine with me. I did not anticipate watching the movie to any great degree anyway.
Jaye’s answer was truly NOT what I would have expected in a million years.
“Well, who are we going with?,” she asked. I was more than a little taken aback. Funny thing was, I didn’t recall asking a “group” of people out that day in the library. Did she have in mind one of her parents going as a chaperone? Or, was she somehow suggesting (in my dreams) a ménage a trios? Or, was she alluding, heaven forbid, to THE most hated, dreaded, night-from-hell that no guy in the world would ever want to agree to? Was she proposing a (wash-my-mouth-out-with-soap-as-I-gag-on–the-term) double-date?

“I don’t know,” I said calmly, “whom did you have in mind?” What else could I say??? “You’re nuts, sweetie pie, if you think I am going out with you AND somebody else!?????” I waited nervously for her reply.

Jaye must have suspected that my prohibitive age and the driving predicament that had to be worked out because of it were at issue. Looking back, this was perhaps my first encounter with the infamous reality of, “woman’s intuition.” Regardless, her proposal was delivered quickly and with substantial evidence of forethought.

“Beau (one of her brothers – and my band-mate) has been wanting to see that new science-fiction movie called, ‘The Andromeda Strain,’” she said. “What would you think about doubling with him and Phyllis?”

Again, this love-sick, first-dater was pretty much stuck. Without this option, what WOULD we do? Would I walk to her house (which was at least nine miles from my front door), and then stroll the obligatory fourteen miles to the movie theater? Not likely. Could I steal my parents’ car for the evening and risk being arrested for driving without a license, not to mention auto theft? The certain death that would have awaited me back at home for such an act made this particular option seem highly unwise.

Clearly, not having thought out this rather significant detail of the overall proposal, this writer was forced to quickly dismiss these ludicrous non-options. Then, in a sudden rush of level-headedness and wisdom, yours truly said the only thing that made any sense…

“Sure, what time does the movie start?”

Eventually, I talked to Beau. He was such a cool guy. Beau was brilliant in techno things. He finished at the top of his graduating class, and while still in high school was employed as an engineer by Ted Turner’s then-budding-communications-empire flagship TV station, WTCG (Channel 17). Beau was our bass player and our band’s electronics mister-fix-it. If an amp blew during a song, Beau could have it back in business before the last solo was played. He was THE best possible male candidate I could have ever wished for in this first-date/double-date experience.

Thank you, Jaye…Thank you, Lord.

His girlfriend Phyllis was another story. From the neck down, God had really been good to Phyllis. From the neck up, well, it suffices to say that she had a million-dollar body and a fifty-cent face. It was a very good thing indeed that Beau was a proto-type techno-geek, engineering-minded, guru. He was always infinitely more interested in what was going on inside of something than on its surface. Given this, Phyllis seemed the perfect match for him. She was a lot of fun to be with. And, along with the high-quality anatomical “equipment” she possessed, Phyllis also had the savvy and hormonal drive to know how to use what God had given her – and use it quite well. Beau always had a profoundly “satisfied” smile on his face the day after a night out with Phyllis. No one ever had to ask why.

Beau assured me that he was cool with my dating his sister. After all, I was his lead guitarist. We had a mutual respect that, while unspoken, was keenly evident. Beau said that he would be come by my house to pick me up about 6:00 PM, and that we would go together to get the girls.

What a guy!

Beau well understood what it would have done to this first-date ego for all three of them to have shown up together to pick me up dead last. For this concession, and for the other reasons aforementioned, to this day, Beauregard Hamilton is in my eyes, “the man!”

The rest of the week passed like a whirlwind. I don’t remember what I finally decided to wear. But, there will be no forgetting how Jaye looked when I finally saw her that fateful Saturday evening.

God-given blonde hair, jade green eyes, a gorgeous face, and a petite female teenage body are a lethal combination. Jaye could have worn a Martha White Self-Rising Flour sack and it would have knocked any young man to his knees. She was a true beauty – both inside and out.

When we got to her house, Beau dropped me off and went to pick up Phyllis. Jaye’s Mom (whom I already knew from band practice – and who obviously loved me) answered the door and sat with me in the living room while Jaye put on the finishing touches. The fact that this writer had been in their house so many times previous to this helped relieve the normal nervousness and anxiety of such an experience. As it is with every first date, the few minutes I waited on Jaye in that living room were a bit like sitting in a dentist’s office with an old magazine in hand. One could only wish that the rest of a life’s span would pass so slowly.

While waiting on Jaye to appear and Beau to come back, Jaye’s mom excused herself to go into the kitchen and check on supper. The delectable smell of meat and vegetables filled that great old house on that memorable Saturday evening.

Jaye’s dad stuck his head in the door to say hello. He was greasy from head to toe, having been neck deep in a car repair out in the garage for most of that day. And, her younger brother, Hugh (our drummer) also came in to wish me luck for the evening. “Be careful,” he warned, “my sister can be a real wildcat!” Hugh was messing with me – but only to try and help calm my nerves. In many ways, being at their house was a lot like being at home.

When Jaye finally came down, it was like a dream. She was dressed in a pink dress and white boots. Her hair was perfect. Her make-up, flawless. She was in every way a living doll. Suddenly, the only thing more intoxicating than the smell of the meat and vegetables coming from the kitchen was Jaye. She also obviously had applied in generous proportion (in all the critical places) my now-beloved White Shoulders perfume. Passing on the meat and veggies, I could have easily eaten her alive right then and there.

“Dear God – thank you,” I silently expressed. If I had died at that moment and gone to heaven my life would have been supremely complete. THE most beautiful creature in the world was standing right there in her living room next to me. She was mine for the evening. There wasn’t anything that could possibly be better than this.

“Let’s go stand outside,” she suggested, “Beau and Phyllis will be here in a minute.” It was now less than an hour before the 7:30 PM show, and the early spring sun was beginning to set on Atlanta. As we stood there on her front porch talking, I wondered why I had been so blessed. Everything had gone SO right, so far. How could anything that had begun so perfectly go wrong?
Just then, as if Satan himself had read my mind, our picture-perfect first-date bubble burst into a million pieces.

We heard a car round the corner, and looked in anticipation of it being Beau and Phyllis. Instead, it might as well have been the anti-Christ himself.

Jaye’s recent break-up with her boyfriend, Reece Anthony, had been anything but civil. Reece was the epitome of a red-neck’s red-neck. He drove an old 57 Chevy with wide tires, cherry bomb exhausts, furry dice hanging from the rear view mirror, and “STP” stickers plastered all over the back windshield. Reece had jacked up that great old classic car so high in the rear that the front bumper almost dragged the pavement as he drove. His was truly one of THE baddest “rides” in our school.

Reece Anthony also had the reputation of being one of THE baddest “dudes” in our school as well. He was a varsity football player known for his temper and violent play on the field. Reece was loud, lewd, unmannerly, and permanently entrenched in his studies at about a 1.3 GPA.

Clearly, his future lay somewhere between the chain gang, Alcatraz, and/or running the grill on second shift at McDonald’s.

Too, no one would have ever mistaken Reece for a pretty boy. His facial features resembled something of a cross between an ant-eater and a rhesus monkey. His sandy blonde hair was as nappy as a used Brillo pad, and his teeth were bucked out in front so exceedingly that he could have easily eaten corn through a fence.

With the knowledge that love is sometimes stone-cold blind, no one but Jaye and the Good Lord could have ever appreciated what she saw in Reece. Most of our school was of the opinion that she had definitely chosen far beneath herself.

Perhaps it was a combination of these and other things that led Jaye to finally break it off with Reece. Their ugly, very public, parting of the ways came just days before this writer showed up at her library table. Timing has rarely been my forte in life.

Reece, as I later found out, had already spread the word around school that if he caught anybody “messing with” Jaye, he would publicly and quite painfully separate them from the limb (or limbs) of their choice.

What a guy!

As we stood on Jaye’s porch that wonderful evening, Reece drove his old ’57 slowly, deliberately and LOUDLY down Sumter Lane. He coasted to an almost complete stop as he passed Jaye’s house. With his car idling and rumbling like a 747 waiting for take-off, Reece glared at both of us with an expression of hate and loathing so demonic that it could have only come from the bowels of hell itself. For a long, extremely uncomfortable moment, it was clear that come next Monday morning, my prospects for a future of life, health and/or happiness would scarcely be worth about .15 cents.

“Let’s go back in the house,” Jaye said, as she quickly opened the door and ran inside. Reece, realizing that we both had seen quite enough of his manly display of charm and grace, popped the clutch on his monster car, loudly squalled its tires, and left at least $40 worth of Goodyear’s rubber on the street in front of Jaye’s house. By this unforgettable demonstration of anger and immaturity, Reece left his mark not only on the pavement, but also on Jaye’s heart. She was visibly upset.

Thank goodness for Beau and Phyllis. They saved the day. Showing up just seconds behind Reece, they came in, sized up what had happened, and immediately began to joke, kid, laugh, and even poke fun at the childishness we had just witnessed. They single-handedly rescued the evening.

What a couple!

Jaye’s smile returned. This writer’s heart was restored. And, Mr. & Mrs. Hamilton came to the door and told us to go and have a good time. I am certain that Reece’s exhibition had greatly embarrassed them.

The four of us hurriedly piled into Beau’s old station wagon - driving like mad to make the movie on time. Along the way we laughed, turned the radio up loud, and generally acted like the crazy teenagers we were supposed to be on a Saturday night out on the town. The night was still young, and Jaye was still the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Life for the moment was still good, and the prospects for it getting even better were improving with each tick of the clock.

The motion picture, “The Andromeda Strain,” debuted on March 12, 1971. It was billed as a sci-fi thriller involving scientists who discover and try to stop a deadly new alien virus from spreading. The movie featured Arthur Hill, who went on to star in his own television series, “Owen Marshall – Counselor at Law.” His co-star, Kate Reid, later appeared in a supporting role spanning one full season on the popular night-time soap, “Dallas.”

Once the movie got going there were elements that made being there quite enjoyable. The popcorn was warm and buttery, the rocking chair theater seats were soft and comfortable, and the smell of Jaye in her White Shoulders sitting next to me was magical.

The movie itself, however, was underwhelming. The longer we sat there, the more it became evident - “Andromeda Strain” was a snoozer! At $1.75 a head (which was big entertainment money in 1971), even watching folks die from an out-of-this-world flu bug was nothing short of a lackluster rip-off. No sex, no skin, no kung-fu fights, and no John Wayne to save the day! Instead of applause, at climactic points in the movie the audience yawned.

Even Beau, the sci-fi addict, became visibly bored. His obvious disinterest in the movie was reflected in the lustful sounds emanating from the lip-locked, death-grip embrace he and Phyllis had lapsed into barely fifteen minutes into the picture. At one point, it seemed that a good many of the theater patrons around us were getting more for their money from watching, “The Beau and Phyllis Strain,” rather than the one they originally paid to see.

At several intervals during the moan-filled wrestling match next to us, this writer wondered what Jaye thought of her brother and his girlfriend’s carnal display. Surprisingly, she looked up at me several times, and not with expressions of disgust and disbelief. Instead, Jaye’s countenance reflected more of the sentiment, “that sure looks like fun, doesn’t it?” Each time, this still-scared-out-of his-mind, first-date, rookie would look away thinking to himself, “I wonder if she expects me to attack her like that?” “Should I try something?” “What if she slaps me and runs out of the theater?” “Would Beau make me walk home for attacking his sister - in a public place - on our first date?” “Why am I SO stupid?”

Each time, when Jaye would look at me and smile so invitingly, this writer would look away in fear – repeating the same questions as before. Finally, having worked up the nerve to go for the gusto, I turned to Jaye, pulled her close, stared into those beautiful green eyes, and, just as I was preparing to plant a “whopper” on her lusciously pink lips, she...

Stretched, yawned big like she hadn’t slept in several days, and whispered that she had to go to the bathroom. Tapping Phyllis on the arm, off they both went to powder their noses – and to likely compare notes about the kind of time they were having. One shudders to this very day to imagine what must have been said in that, “Ladies Room.”

Back in the theater, Beau was slowly recovering from his hormonal tsunami with Phyllis. He leaned over to me and said, “When they come back, let’s get out of here. This movie is the pits!” I agreed whole-heartedly. Beau added with a wink, “Look dude, I know you want some back seat time with my sister…You can count on me – I’ll make it happen!”

What a guy!

When Jaye and Phyllis returned, they both seemed relieved when Beau said we were getting out of there. This writer has rarely seen two young girls bolt out of a theater so quickly.
As we climbed in Beau’s station wagon and sped off to find pizza or a world-famous Varsity hamburger, or whatever, Jaye did not slide over close as she had done when the evening first began. Was she angry? Was she still bummed out by Reece’s behavior? Was she bored? Did she want to go home? Do I grab her and rip her clothes off now or after the meal? “Whoa, big fella,” I thought, “there is still plenty of time and she hasn’t asked to be taken home yet…you’ve still got a chance!”

Thankfully, Beau’s old station wagon was MADE for dating. It had great big, firm but really comfortable, bench seats. A whole gaggle of offspring could have been fathered on those huge, couch-like, slabs of spring and foam. Taking the bull by the horns as Beau had done earlier in the theater, your writer slid across and corralled Jaye on a small portion of that very large back seat. My rapid advance seemed to surprise her. My intention and hope was that my sudden “move” would rekindle her perceived interest from earlier – and that she would lustfully await the opportunity for her tonsils to be polished during our upcoming, “back seat time.”

We found a pizza place, enjoyed our meal, and drove away. As we rode around for the next little while, Phyllis and Beau took advantage of several longer-than-normal traffic lights. Every time we stopped at a red light Beau personally and directly shared his gum, his after dinner mints, and his tongue with Phyllis. Of course, she was more than willing to cooperate. I had never seen so much mouth-to-mouth contact in my young life – not even in emergency room scenes on Marcus Welby, M.D.

Each time, Jaye would look up at me as she had done in the theater – evidently waiting to see what I would do. Almost forty years after the fact I now realize that she was trying to tell me with those looks that she was, as my friend Travis Tritt says, “warm and willing,” for the same type of exchange. Dang it!!!! If only there was a way to rewind time and space. Please forgive me, Jaye.

True to his word, Beau finally drove over to Phyllis’ place. Her family was well-to-do. They lived in a very swanky part of Atlanta - in a large two-story, white brick house that looked almost like 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

As we pulled up, it was evident that Phyllis’ parents were “out” for the evening. Beau parked the car on a section of the street in front of the house next to Phyllis’. He made sure to position the car near a section of the curb that was darkened from the street light by a large, overhanging oak tree. Beau said that he and Phyllis needed to run inside for just a minute to get something, and for us to stay in the car. They would be right back (wink, wink).

What a guy!

Here it finally was. The answer to this boy’s prayer. He had the girl of his dreams, all alone and in the back seat of an old station wagon, on a darkened street, in the greatest city in the south, smack dab in the middle of the spring time when the, “sap goes to rising.” The stage was set.

This young, first-date Don Juan prepared to make his move.

Sliding closer to Jaye for one last desperate attempt at following Beau’s lead, he was again taken aback. Instead of leaning into him and making his move a success, Jaye reacted in a way that taught her young escort a valuable lesson about making hay while the sun shines – as well as the consequences that come when one fails to do so. She leaned forward, placing her elbows on her knees and her head in her hands. She sighed, looked out the car window at the house and yard close to where Beau had parked, and said in a very detached and disinterested tone, “those people need to cut their grass.”

If there was any doubt before, it was now confirmed. Jaye was thoroughly and genuinely bored. The whole evening had been a flop for her from beginning to end. Her interest in this date, the movie, the pizza, and now this solitary moment together was nothing short of graveyard dead. Reece had opened the grave, and this writer cooperated fully by shoveling in the dirt.

Beau and Phyllis had been inside now for several minutes doing the Good Lord only knows what. Well, that’s not exactly true. Both Jaye and I knew. My time was running out. If I was going to resurrect this corpse of a date, I would need to quickly think of something meaningful, witty, reassuring, and supportive to say. I gently put my arm on Jaye’s back, rubbed her tenderly, leaned forward, and whispered: “I think you’re a great girl, and I really like your boots.”

Many years later, while watching another movie in the theater (this time a really good one) I was shown how such a statement must have sounded to Jaye. The latter movie featured the beloved character, Forrest Gump, as he uttered those immortal words, “Stupid is as stupid does!”

Forrest wasn’t the first one to say those timeless words. I am now convinced that they originally came from Anna Laura “Jaye” Hamilton’s mouth as she mumbled several things under her breath in response to my imbecilic utterance.

How in the world did Jaye keep from either laughing or crying? Was she now ready and anxious to go back to Reece? Was this her lowest hour on earth? Had I become her, “date from hell?”
Not only did this writer’s eloquent observation about her character and her clothing NOT move her to respond carnally, it also did not move her to even smile or say, “thank you.” Her only audible response to the boot remark was a half-hearted, “sometimes they make my legs sweat.”

Thankfully, Beau and Phyllis emerged from the house, having breathlessly survived their second installment of the flesh-fest that had begun earlier at the theater. When they got in the car, they asked what we wanted to do next.

I said that the hour was late, and I needed to be getting home. Being only fifteen, my parents had levied an 11:30 PM curfew for this my dating “test-drive.” I can only imagine that Jaye was never so glad in her life to see 11:30 PM come.

As the three of them dropped me at my front door, Jaye did at least have the decency to get out of the car with me. She smiled sweetly, lied through her teeth saying she really enjoyed the evening, and then proceeded to kiss goodnight this poor, stupid boy. In attempting to describe Jaye’s kiss, it suffices to say that she very graphically and capably demonstrated the oral ecstasy that could and should have been experienced much earlier in the evening . Dang it!!!!!

I thanked her, put her back in the car, thanked Beau and Phyllis, and told them all that I would see them Monday at school. As I walked to my front door, I looked at my watch. It was 11:35 PM. Five and a half hours - vanished in the twinkling of an eye.

I walked in the house and was immediately asked the typical nosy questions from both of my folks and my younger sister. Afterward, I went straight to my room and climbed in bed - never to sleep a wink the rest of the night.

Instead of cursing myself, my inexperience, and my royal display of stupidity, I opted for something more beneficial. I bowed my head and thanked God. I thanked Him that I had been so lucky to have dated a girl like Jaye as “my first.” I promised Him that if He would give me other dates, that I would learn from this experience and try to do a better job next time, and the next time, and the next time after that.

Thankfully, God answered that prayer a thousand times over as the years went on.

On that next Monday, Reece Anthony did not kill me after all. Beau glad-handed me as we passed in the hall. Phyllis came up and hugged me (giving me a first-hand sample of the anatomical blessedness of her upper torso). And, Jaye spoke sweetly and kindly to me just like always – as we exchanged friendly glances in the band room during first period.

Since that day, this writer has dated many girls and has enjoyed many romantic experiences. Also, this writer has now been married for almost thirty years to an incredible woman. Again, God has more than held up His end of the bargain.

But, the Good Lord knows - as does this writer - that even though there have been a lifetime of second chances granted in response to that night’s prayer, there will never be another night like that night.

And, more importantly, there will never be another Jaye.

If this writer ever really did finally become a man, or if he has ever been one at all in any sense…Or, if ever he was able to reach that coveted level of dateable “personhood” during those timeless high school days, he wants you to know, Jaye, that you were THE one above all others who helped make it so. You gave him courage and hope. The fact that you said, “yes,” in that school library on that fateful day helped a frightened, immature boy believe that he one day could be the person of someone else’s dreams – just as you were to him on that wonderful night in 1971.

Until his dying day, he will always be grateful to you for these things.

And, too, he will always remember that first date. It could not have been more special to him, both then and now.

Thank you, Jaye.

Finally, this writer has wrestled off and on through these many years with one single, lingering, burning, question. In concluding this account of, “our night,” Mrs. Anna Laura “Jaye” Hamilton Jackson, I must now ask it of you.

Do your legs still sweat whenever you wear those boots?

- David Decker