Saturday, September 29, 2012

From The Pen Of Joshua Lawrence Breslin-From The "Ancient Dreams, Dreamed" Sketches -"Markin's Big Date"

Click on the headline to link to a YouTube film clip of Eddie Cochran performing Sittin’ in the Balcony to add a zest to this sketch.

Sittin' In The Balcony Recorded by Eddie Cochran Written by John D. Loudermilk

                         D7 G I'm just a sittin' in the balcony just a watching the movie D7 G Or maybe it's a symphony I wouldn't know D7 G I don't care about the symphonies just a cymbal and a timpani D7 G I'm just a sitting in the balcony on the very last row C G I'll hold your hand and I'll kiss you too A7 D7 The feature's over but we're not through G D7 G Just a sittin' in the balcony holding hands in the balcony D7 G Just a sittin' in the balcony on the very last row C G We may stop loving to watch bugs bunny A7 D7 But he can't take the place of my honey G D7 G Just a sittin' in the balcony just a smooching in the balcony D7 G Just a sittin' in the balcony on the very last row C G D7 G Just a hugging and a kissing with my baby in the very last row

You never knew what kind of story Peter Paul Markin my old yellow brick road compadre going back to the1960s was going to come up with back in those California “on the bus” searching for the great American West night days as we roamed up and down that state on Captain Crunch’s merry prankster bus. One day (night, more likely) he might be all high politics and want to talk about what was wrong with various slogans put forth on the workers’ government question at the Fourth Congress of the Communist International in 1922. The next day (or maybe that same night if we had hit the right kind of “high” for the occasion) he might just draw back to recall some childhood or teenage angst story. When he went into that mode it usually meant he wanted to discuss some forlorn “chick” that got away in those woe begotten days, or ones that didn’t and he wished they had.

This one though is about one that didn’t get away but didn’t work out either. Amazingly, thinking about it later after he told me this story, I noticed how many such no win tales he kept locked in that mind of his. For this one Peter Paul (I am under the equivalent of a court order not to use his nickname, his childhood stuck to adulthood nickname Pee-Pee when writing about him) reached way back to his elementary school days down at the Adamsville Housing Authority apartments (the “projects” in his terms) where he came of age. And where he “discovered” girls, although not without the usual ten tons of trauma, angst and alienation.

Of course the ins and outs of the boy-girl thing have eluded every guy from ten to ten times ten since girls were invented so his story is not one that I found so bizarre. Just the particulars of his dilemma. See, for a guy who thought nothing of spouting off those facts about the trials and tribulations of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International Peter Paul was (and is) an extremely shy guy. And was back in the back the day time he was talking about, maybe more so. His thing was always to kind of overwhelm the girls with about ten thousand arcane facts on about eleven thousand different things that he had read about.

Well, we all have our ways of relating to the world, and the opposite sex (or the same-sex these days as far as preferences go). Personally I always thought he was crazy to do that routine when I saw him in action later when we were on the road. But some girls (and women more than I would have figured) were easily impressed by such odd-ball foolishness. My thing, personally, was just to say pretty things about them and take my chances like most normal guys.

Enter Belinda, Belinda Boylston, a blonde-haired stick (local Adamsville corner boy short-hand for girls who had not gotten a figure yet but who, well, who had some other charms only immature teen boys would notice) who had just that year (1958) moved into the new middle-class single family colonial-style houses up the street build for those, unlike Peter Paul’s family, moving up in the golden age of American post- World War II prosperity. She had entered the school in October and so was not aware like all the other girls in his class of his special “skills.” And not knowing that she one day, maybe the second or third day of class, gave him a smile, a thin Mona Lisa smile. He blushed, blushed seven shades of red the lightest being blood red. Done. Gone. Finished.

After that in class Peter Paul poured it on especially when he noticed that she was paying attention when he answered a question, or just started to ramble on. (Jesus, I know that one.) But how was he going to get to talk to her. That is where Billie Bradley, the king hell king of the young teen Adamsville corner boy night came to the rescue. Or rather his sister, Celina, who was a year ahead of the boys, did. She corralled Belinda one day at lunch and just came right out with it. Did she like Peter Paul, or not? Of course came the since time immemorial- let him ask me himself. And with that our tale ends.

Not end ends but ends for the few weeks that it took Peter Paul to get up the courage to talk to Belinda. And only under threat that Billie Bradley was going to take a run after her himself. Well the long and short of it was that Belinda had not been coquettish (although she could be that) when she gave her answer to Celina but was pretty shy herself. She had planned to have her new friend, Maude, Maude Riley, ask Peter Paul if he liked her but Celina got there first.

And so, finally, like some false-fated lovers out of some Greek tragedy (or Hollywood B script) they talked and she agreed to go on a “date.” with one Peter Paul Markin that next Saturday. Now this twelve year old “date” business is not (or was not) like a real date that older teens and we adults have but is strictly around the block stuff. First off it was strictly day time, strictly going to the movies or the beach (in summer) and strictly a few hours, no more. And with no car to drive them to the movies (nobody then, even shy nobodies, and I hope not now either, wanted to be chauffeured by some old foggy parents when they only had that precious few hours to make an impression) they took the bus to the Stand Theater in Adamsville Square for the Saturday matinee double-feature.

Peter Paul dressed in his best shirt and pants and his hair combed picked up Belinda at her house. Belinda looked nice too in her just slightly filling out cashmere sweater all the rage in those days. After the obligatory hi and goodbye (and parental list of dos and don’ts) they headed to the bus stop. Here is a funny part, or I thought it was funny. After leaving the Boylston house they were like two magpies talking about a storm like they had known each other forever. And every once in a while as he was talking she gave Peter Paul that fatal (to him) Mona Lisa smile.

Finally they got to the Square and headed for the theater. Peter Paul said the rest of the afternoon was a little hazy. They entered the theater although he confessed that on a stack of seven bibles he could not remember the movies being played that day. Maybe Peggy Sue Meets Godzilla he though, something like that. And here is why things were a little hazy. Now parents and old foggies when they go to the movie theater are looking for the best seats to view the film. Twelve year olds then (and maybe now too for all I know) on their first “date” had a different decision to make. Orchestra seats or balcony? The answer meant an ordinary old foggy-type date or holding hands, and lips, upstairs. Peter Paul shyly asked Belinda where she wanted to sit. She gave him that thin Mona Lisa smile and pointed upstairs.

I wish I could give a postscript that Peter Paul and Belinda lived happily ever after, or until something else came along. However in this wicked old world some things just can’t work out, work out for twelve and thirteen year olds. Peter Paul and Belinda were an “item” for the rest of the school year, or most of it. Then Belinda’s father got a promotion that required a transfer to another part of the state. Such is life. But he still remembers that Mona Lisa smile as she, unable to talk she was so shy at that moment, pointed to those stairs.

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