Saturday, April 21, 2012

Prom Night!

   Countless proms are taking place around the county tonight and I am taken back to my high school days.  And the fact that the only prom I ever attended was my senior year.  It was also my first date with Rick.  I didn't know it then, but he would become my date for the rest of my life.

   Why didn't I go to any other proms?  Because there weren't any at my high school.  Another big why?  We made a different choice for ourselves.  I still remember the meeting my Junior year.  It was a joint meeting with the Senior class.  We asked them if they would rather have the money for their class trip to the Ozarks or have us throw them a prom. (Back then, the Junior class raised the money and put on the prom, the Senior class put on the Banquet).  Anyway, the vote didn't take long at all.  There was no prom, just a banquet.

     I didn't have a date for the banquet, so I went with a group of friends.  We were a mixed group, probably about six of us.  I did feel bad that I didn't have a boyfriend because only people dating went as a couple.  But there were lots of us in the same boat, so we went together and had a great evening.  I can't remember the food, but I remember the entertainment.  A senior girl, Shelly, sang "Puppy Love."  She was amazing, but that's all I  recall, except the dishes were fancy.  The memories were made afterwards.  No, we didn't have post prom.  Our group decided to go to a movie.  "The Godfather" had been released and everyone was going.  But my mother had forbidden me to see it.  Yes, I was eighteen, but I still lived at home and what my parents decreed was law.  I found a pay phone, fed it a quarter dime and called home. 

   "Mom, the group is going to the movie, 'The Godfather' and I don't have a different ride home.  I don't know what to do.  I know you forbid me to go see this.  What should I do?"

   I don't remember her exact words, but in essence she told me it was okay.  She didn't like it but what she did like was the fact that I called and asked her instead of going and hiding it from her.  I shared with my group her reaction.  They decided not to go, I think mostly out of respect for my mother.  Instead we found a shop at the mall that had pin ball machines of every description.  We had a blast, and I gained new respect for my mother and for my friends.

   When it was my turn to be a Senior and the Junior class gave us the same choice we had given the previous year.. We had the same conclusion.  You see, we had to earn all of the money for our trip ourselves and if the class hadn't worked hard enough we had two choices:  1.  No trip.  2.  Cough up our own cash by babysitting, working for local farmers, etc. Parents were non existent when it came to prom, class trips, etc.  Not only did they not get involved, but they did not pay for it either.  So to have a chunk of money handed over to us was very attractive.  We didn't even have a banquet that year.  We did have Senior Skip Day, but that is another blog.

  So the only prom I had was a first date with a guy I had met only two weeks before.  And that is a story I must tell.

   On April 29, 1973 I needed a ride for a church activity in a town two hours away.  I felt it was super important to get to it.  I called our parish's associate pastor and asked him for a ride.
"Sorry, Mona, but my car is full."  After he heard the extreme disappointment in my voice he added, "You might call Rick Rottinghaus, I think he has room.  He is taking Rick K and Don K, but his car would have a spot for you."
"I don't know him!"
"You know Don K and Rick K.  It will be okay."

   And so it was set.  I had my ride.  The first half of the trip I sat in the back seat, my nose buried in the book, 'In Cold Blood' by Truman Capote.  On the way home, Don K and Rick R jumped in the back seat which forced me in the front bucket seat of Rick R's 1968 Rally Sport Camero. Four hours in a car with Rick R.  We got to know each other.  I found out it was his eighteen birthday on the return trip, so  I proceeded to sing "Happy Birthday" about every five miles. Could I have been any more annoying?  Sure.  We stopped at a diner somewhere for a hamburger and he handed the clerk at the cash register a five dollar bill.  As he reached out for his change (yes - change!) I quickly cupped my hand above his so it landed in mine.  I did give it back to him, but laughed the entire time.  As we pulled into my driveway, the guys in the back seat egged Rick on.
"Who ya takin' to the prom, Rick?"
"I was thinkin' of asking Mona Kies." Rick replied.

I was embarrassed as he turned to me,
"So do you - want to go to the prom with me?"
"Let me check my calendar."  as I dug in my purse for my pocket agenda.  "Yes, I can go, but I won't wear a dress."
"Fine, I don't care, then I don't have to buy you flowers."
"I don't really care about flowers, anyway."
"Okay, then. we'll go - I don't buy flowers, you don't wear a dress."

From the back seat I heard,
"Oh Mona, do you want to go to the prom?"  "Just a minute, let me check my calender." in high squeaky voices, followed by laughter.

Rick and I went to the prom, May 12, 1973 and had a great time.  Before he let me out of his car later that evening, he asked me out for the following week for a movie.  I accepted, but left my hairbrush in his car accidentally. (I still hear about this as a ploy. It was an honest mistake, really!)

Some time during the following week he called.
"I decided I don't want to take you to a movie Saturday night."
Long, long pause followed by my reaction. "mmm, oh..."
"I want to take you to a birthday party for my sister."
"Okay." I answered with bewilderment.

We did go to the birthday party.  We walked into a stranger's home and he proceeded to leave me in the front room with his mother, sister and countless other women.  I knew no one in the room and he joined the men in the basement.

We made it through our second date and both of us revealed our true colors at the very beginning of our relationship.   When we said our vows two years later, we had some kind of inkling what 'for better, for worse' might mean.


Friday, April 20, 2012

The Hulk

Scissors, Cookies, Quilts

I began a new online writing course this week.  I have decided to share my homework as I complete it.

Lesson One had me look at a special object in my life and write the memory it evoked.  So as not to tarnish the lesson, I asked Rick, my husband, to retrieve anything he chose from my display of treasured antique sewing items.  I call the display my tribute to my heritage.  It holds two wedding gowns crafted by my maternal grandmother, along with photos of the brides.  One is her own dress, 1914, the other is my great paternal aunt's wedding gown, 1915.  Other objects are scissors, the bonnet worn by my mother on her baptismal day, sewing notions, sewing basket, and a 1915 sewing magazine!  Rick chose an pair of my Great Aunt Mary's buttonhole scissors.  I was allowed up to 200 words to write my reflection.  I hope you enjoy it.

     My fingers caress the smooth metal of the antique sewing scissors and I am once again that little girl visiting my great aunt, Mary.  The uneven squares of concrete sidewalk greet me as I skip my way to the faded wooden steps leading into her home.  The slanted board floor of the porch peeks from beneath worn woolen carpet.  I open a heavy, chocolate oak door, pausing a moment to peer beyond the lace framing the glass.  Aunt Mary, in her floral house dress and contrasting apron, welcomes me with the offer of oatmeal walnut cookies and a glass of ice cold milk. 
     I glance around.  I see a bed covered by an heirloom quilt, the worn oak floor and scattered rag rugs.  Her treadle sewing machine sits amidst piles with scraps of color.  Her hours are spent creating quilts.  Each one is a gift, sewn by pumping the pedal. Kaleidoscope blocks create the finished top, quilted with warm flannel and tied with shimmery cotton yarn.  Each new child in her life is presented a quilt sewn with love.  Extras are donated to a local nursing home.  “For the old folks,” she quips, with eyes that are witness to eighty-five years.