So, I dated my fourth cousin Theresa while I was in high school, even fell in love with her. She was a year or two older, but so far more mature looking than the girls in my elementary school classes that I’d fallen for years before. I was so amazed the day I showed up to take her to a CCD dance (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine – for Catholic students not attending a Catholic high school). She was breathtakingly beautiful. The style at that time still included beehive hairdos, and I didn’t care for that, nor the glitter sprikled onto it before the hairspray hardened. Dancing with her close, besides the thumping of my heart and the burning heat everywhere her body made contact with mine, I also noticed how hard her hair was. I never understood that need to stiffen hair into a semi-permanent shape. Of course, when you are 14 or 15 and you have a beautiful woman in your arms, such things as glitter sticking to your face hardly matter. After that dance I had Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime running through my head for weeks, and always after that I think of Theresa when I hear that song. I was dumbfounded, of course, to have danced with such a beauty. We dated a little, once going to a swim social at the Knights of Columbus pool. There was music there, and the girls danced among themselves. I knew how to dance a little then of course, and was torn between wanting to dance with Theresa and my fear of being laughed at. The boys stayed in their corner, the girls in theirs. No one danced together, and I always regretted being such a coward. I lived in the past for years afterwards, regretting all of my actions, obsessing over everything I should have said or done.
Still, I saw Theresa more and more. I often stopped by her house on the way home. Like me, she was the oldest, and often in charge of the younger kids. Uusally her parents weren’t home yet. One time, after I’d been doing this for awhile, she led me by the hand upstairs into the bathroom so we could kiss. I thought it would be better to go into a bedroom, but she didn’t want to, maybe thinking I had more in mind. I was nervous. We put our arms around each other. I wanted to kiss her real bad, but there were those other kids running around, and some nearly Theresa’s age, so I didn’t want to get caught. Her father was really strict. I was so nervous that I can’t even remember if we managed to get a kiss in before someone knocked on the door. It was one of her sisters. The sister told her she was needed downstairs. Theresa left while I jumped behind the shower curtain. I thought the sister would leave, but since she started closing the door, I jumped and went, “Boo!” I left the house after that, embarrassed as all hell. Oddly enough, many years later, in my mid-20’s, I was involved in almost the exact scenario, but the other players were a married woman and her husband.
Sometimes my brother John would show up there. He knew where I was going. Of course, we had always been together before this, and it was not unusual to have him doing whatever I was doing. I did not, however, expect him to hit on Theresa, but that is what he did. He went so far as to try to get her to think I looked like Howdy Doody, the puppet from the children’s show years earlier. I did have the big ears and a goofy grin. However, Theresa told me about it, and I resented it ever after. I don’t think I have forgiven John since. I like him, and miss him, but I never forgot that betrayal. That is what puberty is all about, I guess. New friends push out old friends, especially if the new friends are female.
I was also still in the Boy Scouts back then, although both John and I had switched to the older, more sophisticated Explorer wing. As explorers, we would do things like visit a Nuclear Power plant or an aircraft carrier, fly in a small plane, or run the Boy Scout encampments. At one such encampment, we played poker long after the younger boys were put to bed. We had a lantern and could stay up, since we were basically in charge. No lights for the younger Scouts, and we enforced that. One of the other Explorer Scouts produced a bottle of Thunderbird (a bottle of the cheap whiskey was embedded in a post at the entrance to Camp Thunderbird). I didn’t want any, but it sure made me feel older to be part of such a group. One time, they had a party at one scout’s house. I decided to take Theresa. We’d been to another dance, this one at my high school, but didn’t date regularly. When I went to pick her up, her dad had warned me not to come home late, or he’d be waiting for me with a shotgun. That was a scary thought. We still hadn’t made out – but this was going to be the ideal chance. We danced to Louie, Louie, and other rock ‘n’ roll songs of the time. The song was reported to have hidden meanings, and even deliberately-slurred profanity. (The song was banned on many radio stations and in many places in the United States, including Indiana, where it was personally prohibited by the Governor. The FBI became involved in the controversy but concluded a 31-month investigation with a report that they were “unable to interpret any of the wording in the record.”)
During the party that night, Theresa disappeared. I was crushed. There were boys and girls going off together, and I’d seen her with Louis, whose house this was. Louis was a weird one, claiming to have an incurable disease that would kill him in a few years. I never found out if it was true, but he used it to impress girls that he was dying and accelerate the ‘game’ from base to base. I could have killed him when I saw him return from another part of the house with Theresa, with her hair and makeup messed up, but I was mad at her. I couldn’t believe she’d go off with Mr. Sleezy after the way we’d danced close and almost made out. It was very late by then, so I called my dad to pick us up to get Theresa home. She avoided my eyes, but I thought she’d been drinking. Her dad was at the door, but he didn’t say anything. I didn’t call her or go over after that. Maybe John did. I probably told him about it, or he heard from one of the other boys. He was the type to tell my mom, who would have called her cousin. Theresa actually called me. She apologized, but it sounded like a forced apology. I didn’t buy it. Never saw her again. I heard, not long after, that she had run off to Texas with an older guy. Years later, I heard she’d moved back to Maryland and had a horse farm.