firstdate-holdinghandsEveryone remembers their first date.  It’s a special experience that you never forget.  Like your first real kiss.  Or your first car.  Or your first computer.

My first date was with Angela Smith.  We were both fifteen and went to different schools.  That’s how I got the date, she didn’t know I was a nerd.

We met in MYF (Methodist Youth Fellowship), the youth group at our church.  Her parents had just started attending the church in our neighborhood and to her, I was just another guy.  She didn’t know any better.

(NOTE:  Let me break in a second here.  From reading my blog, if you actually do with any regularity, you’ve no doubt seen nothing remotely religious.  If anything, I’ve written satirical pieces on organized religion because at some point in my senior year of high school, I quit organized religion forever.  I didn’t change as a person, I just no longer allowed hypocrites to dictate to me how they thought I should lead my life.  Before you blast me, not all people who follow organized religion are hypocrites.  Let’s get back to the story …)
Angela had kinky blonde hair, clear eyes and a sweet little smile.  She loved to laugh and I was instantly drawn to her.

We first held hands in the ocean.  The MYF took a trip to Myrtle Beach and stayed in a complete dump.  The carpet was ratty, the furniture was marred and the water was slow and lukewarm.  It was perfect.

One day all of us went to the beach and when we were in the ocean, we held hands in a large circle for a prayer.  I positioned myself next to Angela but now that I think back, maybe she positioned herself next to me also.

The MYF counselor, a young guy who was getting his seminary degree from Duke, said the prayer and we broke the circle.  That is, all but two of us.  Even as I remember that day twenty-one years ago, I can’t fathom the bravado I developed that kept my fingers entwined with hers.

I was as shy as a nerd could get.  I couldn’t talk to pretty girls.  I couldn’t flirt with them, not even clumsily.  I couldn’t even look at one in the eyes without breaking a sweat.

Yet there we were, in the ocean, holding hands.  Angela Smith and I, Mr. Chubby Nerd.

I don’t remember what we talked about or even that we talked.  I don’t even know that we looked at each other while we floated in that heavenly Atlantic Ocean.  It didn’t matter.  We were holding hands and my heart was probably beating so loud I couldn’t have heard anything anyway.

I’ve tried my best to remember how long we stayed this way or if we emerged onto the beach still holding hands.  I can’t.  The truth is, the memory is dominated by the mere fact that we held hands.  That’s all I can remember.

That day, the shy nerd officially died.  The consummate “playa” was born into his unworthy husk.

Or not.

Actually, I was still a shy nerd who hadn’t scored his first “real” kiss.  At least, not until the four hour van-ride back home.  (Hi-five)

There, hunched down in the back seat of a crowded van, Angela and I shared the first of many clandestine kisses.  There was nothing sexual going on, we merely explored the tender urges in our hormone-infested bodies.  Our lips were drawn together like fireflies in the night.  Or more like Krazy Glue and fingertips.

But still, this wasn’t our first real date.

ImageTwo weeks later, my mom dropped us off at the movies.  I don’t even remember if we went out to eat first, I just remember the movie.  It was cool with my mom because I found out later that our parents had gone to school together back when schools weren’t referred to as campuses, when grades 1-12 were all in the same building.  Think Leave It To Beaver.

So my first real date, with the young and beautiful Angela Smith, was a movie date to see “Dirty Dancing.”  Even now, the songs by Bill Medley and Eric Carmen evoke memories of her young face and soft hands.  And yes, by the reference you can deduce we held hands all movie long.

We were too young to understand all the sexual nuances of the movie but we were infatuated with each other, nothing else mattered.  The movie was simply a vessel, a reason to be together.  An excuse to be with someone attracted to you as much as you were to them.

As we held hands during the movie, electricity pulsed unbidden between us.  And as we learned that you don’t mess with Baby and secretly wondered if Patrick Swayze was gay, we experienced something sacred and solemn.  A first date.