Frazier – Some Enchanted Evening
Some Enchanted Evening A short story by William A. Frazier
One of the direst problems besetting boy-kind in the days before the internet was: “How does a painfully shy guy hook up with a popular, attractive girl without messing his pants in the process?” Of course, in today’s internet era, one simply goes online anonymously (select “login as invisible”), one’s ego protected by a false identity (screen-name, must be cool, memorable and preferably a little edgy), surfs the babe sites (teenagers often use “face book”), exchanges witty repartee (now called “chat”, which can be gleaned from other chatrooms), and, typing contractions completely devoid of vowels, wins over the affection of said babe, perhaps sealing the deal by sending 12 X @)-‘-,-->---- (roses). After sufficient information has been exchanged and a simulacrum of trust built online, an RT (real time) first date is accomplished in relative comfort, all possible issues worked out ahead of time on line. All of this was of course unavailable to my peers and I in 1963. The first date as a right of passage ranks right up there with passing your driver’s test on the first try, buying your first condom, smoking your first joint and discovering that your testicles didn’t explode if you indulged in a little “do-it-yourself” action rather than waiting for nocturnal emission to take care of the problem. Now there’s a phrase:
Frazier – Some Enchanted Evening “nocturnal emission”. It sounds like something that a chemical company does under cover of darkness for the purpose of avoiding detection by federal inspectors. Leslie Bradford, an attractive, petite blonde, starred in all the musical plays presented by our rural high school. This was in the pre-Andrew Lloyd Weber days and included such classics as South Pacific, Carousel, The Music Man and, of course, everybody’s favorite, Sound of Music. In the latter epic, Maria, the naughty nun, is sent from the convent to find her true path as concubine of Captain von Trapp and governess of the von Trapp children: Nuns chorus:
How do you solve a problem like Maria?
How can I ask Leslie for a date?
Leslie was a natural for the role of Liesel, the oldest and ripest of the unruly and unloved von Trapp children: Leslie (as Liesel singing to Rolf): I am sixteen, going on seventeen. I need someone older and wiser, showing me what to do..…oooh. Me (wistfully replacing Rolf, the snotty little Hitler youth who, we know, is only after Liesel’s “edelweiss”):
I am seventeen, going on eighteen, I- I’ll take care-air of you.
At the conclusion of the song, when Rolf dips Liesel to plant a hot wet one on her perfect ruby lips, it required all of my self control to avoid leaping from my seat in the orchestra pit and screaming “Get your filthy Nazi hands off Leslie you goddamned pervert sonofabitch!”
Frazier – Some Enchanted Evening Shyness, not lack of voice, prevented me from trying out for the leading man roles. Oh how I longed to sing opposite Leslie in those shows, letting Rodgers and Hammerstein, the geniuses of Broadway speak my burgeoning love for Leslie. Oh to be Emile de Becque to her Nellie Forbush, Captain von Trapp to her Maria. Playing trumpet in the orchestra pit kept me in the play, but I died a thousand deaths every time Ronnie Simpkins, the perennial leading man, kissed Leslie on stage. I was always Ronnie’s understudy, which created a dilemma in itself. If Ronnie accidentally dropped dead or choked on a fish bone, I would have to actually appear on stage and sing before an audience of expectant parents and cruelly critical peers. On the other hand, I would get to kiss Leslie, but that would guarantee that I would forget all of my lines, embarrass myself horribly and no doubt drop dead. As we all know from police procedurals, when one drops dead, one, of necessity, messes one’s pants, a mortifying state of affairs. A few tortured weeks after Leslie escaped Rolf and his band of Nazis by fleeing over the Alps with Maria, Captain von Trapp and the other von Trapp children for the third and last time (two evenings and a matinee), I couldn’t stand it any more. After a few sleepless nights spent in rehearsal and rewrites, I sought out Leslie and popped the question: “Would you, uh, you know, like to uh… go to… uh, well, you know… a movie… uh …or… something?” Leslie, a twinkle of uncertain origin in her eye, said “sure.” “Gee. Really? Okay then,” I replied, having forgotten the A stuff and even the B stuff that I had rehearsed for this unlikeliest turn of events.
Frazier – Some Enchanted Evening A gut-wrenching week from Hell followed as I tried to anticipate every moment of the date, devise clever bits of dialog, head off any possible problem, wash the car…twice. This was my first real, going it alone, date with a girl. I had no idea of what to expect. How far might Leslie be willing to go? How far might she expect me to go? Would I get to first base, second base? Where were those bases located? How would I recognize them? What the hell would I do if I got there? Back in those dark ages, no class in school, no internet web site or chat room armed us with answers to those questions. Even worse, the four oldest children in my family were comprised of myself and three girls. My only brush with sex education at home had been on a Sunday when I was in the ninth grade. The Chief (a.k.a. my father) cast a surly glance over the assembled crowd at the dinner table. His gaze came to rest upon my mother. “Maggie, I think it’s about time you had a word with the older ones.” My mother gave a barely perceptible nod of her head. That night after the younger kids were in bed, during the Ed Sullivan Show, Mom sat me and my three sisters down and told us in as little detail as possible about monthly bleeding (a.k.a. the curse), the use of sanitary napkins (don’t clog the toilet) and the dire consequences of having sex (if my sisters ever had sex they would get pregnant and their lives would be over). This latter admonition actually turned out to be true for one of them. She was sent off to a nice Seventh Day Adventist College because my parents could tell that she was the one most likely to beget inappropriately. She indeed begot within her first semester at the fine religious college, was cast into the outer darkness and it was all down hill from there. After this pep talk, I was doubly glad not to have been born female, but none of the handy
Frazier – Some Enchanted Evening info about sanitary napkins was of much use to me. By this time, I had been guiltily whacking off under the covers for quite a while without the use of sanitary napkins. Thus it was no great surprise that I approached my date with Leslie, my first, and probably only, chance at true happiness, with mixed emotions and no real game plan. The warm summer evening hummed with anticipation, at least on my part. I arrived at the farm where Leslie lived right on time. Actually, I was early the first three times I passed her farmhouse waiting for the stroke of six PM. This insidious tendency to be early for every appointment clings to me like albatross shit, having been handed down through my grandfather’s collection of Prussian genes. As I turned the car around slowly in front of the barn to avoid getting too much dust on the shiny hubcaps, Leslie bounced down the porch steps in a lime green tube top, white shorts rolled into those cute little cuffs (thus qualifying as “short-shorts”) and delicate sandals. The perfect nails of her fingers and toes were a glossy pink, pearlescent like the innermost sanctum of the nautilus shell. Her blond mane caught and held the lateday Summer sun. She glowed the way only a sun-gilded, blonde teenager can. She also seemed genuinely glad to see me, a situation I hadn’t considered. “Gosh! You look great Leslie,” I managed to exhale. Her smile nearly blinded me as I tried to assimilate her loveliness. I took a snapshot in my mind to keep this perfect moment. “Gee, thanks. Do you like my new nail polish? It’s called “seashell pink”. I have the lipstick to match, but I didn’t have a chance to put it on yet. Do you mind?” “Uh, no …sure…fine,” I stammered. “Okay. Don’t leave yet. The driveway’s so rough I’ll end up with a pink nose.”
Frazier – Some Enchanted Evening So I watched and enjoyed as Leslie applied her lipstick using the rearview mirror. In those days cars didn’t have a “vanity mirror” on the back of the visor. I couldn’t take my eyes off her lips as she mugged her way through the process. Surely kissing those lips would be the most sublime act known to man. “There,” she proclaimed, twisting the pink bullet back into its golden cartridge. “What do you think,” she asked, pouting her lips in my direction. “I…I….” I stammered. “I…I…” As I searched desperately for the perfect compliment, my eyes wandered from her eyes to her lips to her breasts nestled in the soft knit of her tube top. “I think they’re beautiful.” I announced with conviction. Leslie smiled, took my ungainly paw in her graceful hand and said, “I’m glad you think so. We can go now.” After that, things moved along just swell. The drive over to Newark, Delaware, the closest town with a movie theater, lasted a blissful thirty minutes. We conversed, about what, I couldn’t tell you. I just remember it as the most interesting conversation ever. The burgers could have been filet mignon, the milkshakes, Chateauneuf du Pape. I believe we saw a movie of which I have no recollection. All of that was just fine. As the end of the movie approached, I began to get a bit nervous. Everybody knows the true measure of a successful date has nothing to do with the thickness of the milkshakes or the quality of the movie. I was, of course, anticipating the aftermath, the crucial denouement, that would forever categorize the momentous first date as a success or failure. Emile de Becque said it best (Yes, I understudied Ronnie in South Pacific too):
Frazier – Some Enchanted Evening Some enchanted evening, when you find your true love, When you feel her call you across a crowded room Then fly to her side, and make her your own…OR… All through your life you will live all alone (dumb-ass)! I, naturally enough, was wondering if Leslie (as Nellie Forbush) would: Wash that man right out of (her) hair, and Send (me) on my way. We strolled from the theater into the liquid warmth of the summer night, my sweaty hand refusing to relinquish its grip on hers. On the longer than thirty minute drive back to her house, I drove left-handed as she shifted the floor-mounted stick of the ’61 Plymouth Valiant in perfect synchronization with my distracted and somewhat clumsy clutch-work. My right arm all the while was useless, completely numb due to lack of circulation in its unnatural position, hovering lightly on her bare shoulders. The finger tips of my right hand, operating with a mind of their own, traced her clavicle. I drove as slowly as possible, but all too soon, we were coasting into the driveway of her parents’ farm. I switched off the headlights before their beams hit the house, and rolled to a stop in the turnaround by the barn. I knew that the defining moment of my embryonic relationship with Leslie had come. Trying to control my trembling hand, I let my left index finger gently coax her face towards me. I drowned in her huge green eyes. Our lips brushed softly, perfection incarnate, all within reach, every detail still sharp and clear forty years later. Then, as her lips opened, our kiss evolving into something hot and moist and full of promise, Leslie farted…not loudly…just the daintiest of farts. I pretended with all my might that I hadn’t noticed. She knew differently.
Frazier – Some Enchanted Evening In that long ago time, before cable TV, before the Animal House movies, before women won the right to go braless and fart within earshot of men, a fart on a date, especially a first date, simply wasn’t proper, particularly at this apocalyptic moment of a first kiss. Initially I stupidly took it as a sign that, despite my lack of practice, I must be one hell of a kisser to induce such a sudden lack of control. Leslie, mortified by her gastrointestinal betrayal, bade me a hasty good night, groped for the door handle and slid gracefully out of the Plymouth. In a vain grab for her wrist, I managed to impale myself on the gearshift and could only watch in frustration as she ran into the darkness toward the house. As she disappeared into the night, my mind took one last picture of Leslie. It’s a short movie clip, complete with sound track. I have carried it with me for these past forty years. In it I see Leslie’s snug white short-shorts, disembodied of her comely form by the darkness, bobbing up the porch steps. I hear the shot-like report of the screen door slamming on its spring, a fart amplified a thousand times.