Dating was something that did not mean going out much. It meant being a couple, going to parties, walking her home, an occasional movie date and sometimes making out. The old West Side provided many opportunities from Rudley’s diner like atmosphere on the way home from JHS 44, to the Woolworth’s counter and movie theaters all over the place: Loew’s, Beacon, New Yorker, Thalia and many more. This post briefly explores some of my adolescent failures. They were once embarrassing; now they’re amusing.
We moved through our classmates in elementary school, well I didn’t during fifth grade and sixth grade going steadily with one girl as explained in an earlier post. We certainly moved through junior high too. At William J. O’Shea Junior High School 44 we were afforded new opportunities as that school was fed by several elementary schools bringing news girls and boys together. As far as I knew there were few if any “fast” girls in my classes. And if truth be told, I would not have known what to do.
There was no such thing as sex education in those days. As progressive as the West Side was, we were left to grope our way through relationships.
It wasn’t like we didn’t know the difference between boys and girls. Those of us with older sisters knew a little more than those with male siblings. I can still tell you the name of the first girl to wear a bra in elementary school. And bra strap snapping was all the rage at some point in junior high school.
I know there was some sexual exploration between boys. This was relatively innocent and very secretive exploration of our bodily capabilities.
I engaged in a lot of post office and spin the bottle, kissing was the thing, but I failed to engage in anything more because of rejection as noted in the previous post or my naiveté.
I recall a couple of “fast” girls I did not know what to do with. They will remain un-named but it was my innocence that left my virginity in tact beyond many of my friends.
I think it was my senior year at Stuyvesant when a young woman took me to her east side apartment with no one else home and offered me everything. I was a total failure, having no clue.
And there was another girl at another time, home alone and not knowing how to get my hands where I wanted them.
Summers were interesting as my friend Jon has pointed out. There was no paucity of girls who wanted to be girlfriends. I must have been something because the younger girls with crushes were numerous. With them, of course, nothing happened. In fact nothing serious happened with my peers either. I was what I was, at the least unknowing innocent.
The trip from the West Side to Yonkers was made for numerous summers. The day camp, now a housing development, was an escape from the school year routine of park play in Riverside Park and the parties in typically large West Side apartments.
Every girl I can recall was amongst the prettiest, summer or school. By late in high school I regretted not having responded to a less attractive junior high girl who was mad about me. Regretted because by then I had better understanding of relationship potential with someone who cared.
I had a college friend in those hippy, free love days, who would say, when introduced to a girl “Hi, I want to ball you”. It didn’t work often but it did work. This was not my approach or my ultimate way to success.
I think that teenagers these days are very different from the way I was but I suspect that there are plenty of Kennys still around. Some wondering what they are missing and some not.