Two weeks ago, Judy Panter became my girlfriend, but she isn't my girlfriend any longer. To tell the truth, we're not even friends any longer. I'll explain. Last Friday, after I walked her home from school, she asked me, "Are you going to the matinee at the Rapids tomorrow?" The Rapids is the Rapids Theater owned by Tom Paulos, the Greek, who also owns the Sugar Bowl Café, where high school Greasers hang out. Greasers are guys who wear duck ass hairdos, all greasy and shiny and combed on the sides all the way to the back where the sides meet, which looks like a duck's behind.
"I sure am," I told her. "One of the double features has my favorite cowboy in it.""Who's that?"
"I don't like him. He smokes cigars and uses a bull whip, doesn't he?"
"He does. That's why I like him. He's not a Goody Two Shoes like his twin brother who wears a white shirt, white trousers, white hat, rides a white horse, and doesn't smoke at all. I like Lash because he's dressed in black, wears a black hat, rides a black horse, favors a black bullwhip with black handle over a pistol, plus he smokes stogies all the time."
"That makes him a bad guy, Gordon Hoffman," said Judy. "I don't like bad guys."
"Lash is not bad. Besides, I prefer to be called Gordy."
"Well, anyway, I'm not going to argue with you. I'll meet you tomorrow at the theater," she said, looking at me kind of funny. I should've known something was up then and there when she said she'd meet me at the theater, not in the theater. I've got to tell you, Diary, most boys and girls in Howe School meet inside the theater. That way, we pay for our own tickets. Not Judy. She waited in front of the theater for me. And when I approached the ticket booth lady, Judy stood at my side. "You're going to pay for my ticket, right?"
I figured she was treating me like "Going-Steady" high school guys who pay for their girlfriends' tickets. However, Judy not only expected me to pay for her twelve-cent movie ticket but stopped at the candy counter and ordered a bag of popcorn that costs a nickel. I bought a box of Tootsie Rolls for myself. I had to cough up all the money. And after we took our seats, Judy chomped half the bag of the popcorn, turned to me, and said, "The salt in this makes me thirsty. Could you go and get me an Orange Crush?"
She didn't even say, "Please." So, I stayed seated, hoping she had at least a dime on her that she'd plunk into my sweaty palm. Then, after waiting for a long time, she said, "Aren't you going to get me that drink?" I got up and bought her a dime Orange Crush. Thankfully, she didn't tell me later to return to the candy counter for a Hershey bar with nuts. I also bought myself a Sugar Daddy, a hard caramel sucker that takes forever to lick down to nothing.
During the Lash Larue movie, I tried to put an arm around Judy's shoulder but I had to stretch too much it hurt. The reason: She's taller. That didn't work out at all. No matter, Lash gave the bad guys a hard time, and I fully enjoyed the movie.
"It's better to meet girls inside the theater," warned my friend Bobby Kell, a year older than I.
"I agree," I said. "It took me the entire next morning, delivering Sunday papers all over town to cover the money I spent. And besides, who does she think she is, telling me I can't join the Navy seven long years from now?"
"She told you that?"
"What'd you tell her?"
"I said she was just like my mother."
"And what did she say to that?"
"She said, 'Gordon, you know your mother's right. Mothers always are'."
"She called you Gordon and said mothers always are always right? She said that?"
"Yeah, and I told her, 'Is joining the Navy a long, long time from now really a problem'? 'It isn't a long time,' Judy returned. 'It's only seven years'."
"And I told her, 'Seven years? Jeez, if you subtract seven years from our eleven, that would make us both four-years-old.' She just stood there and said nothing."
"Nothing?" exclaimed Bobby who chuckled. "Cat must've got her tongue, huh?"
"Yeah, I figured either she was mad or taking an extra-long time to think of an answer. Finally, she said, 'I hadn't thought of that'."
"So, I asked her, 'Is it okay, then, if I still want to join the Navy'?"
"Did she say 'No'?"
"That’s exactly what she said."
"So, I said to her, 'Do you think you're being fair by telling me what I can or can't do years from now'?"
"Yes, if you want to be my boyfriend. Girls know these things better than boys."
"She said that?" exclaimed Bobby. "I don't believe it."
"Well, you'd better, and when we reached the front of her house, I was so upset I turned right around and took off for our house."
"Just like that"?
"Just like that. And then she yelled, ‘Gordon Hoffman, where are you going?' I stopped and turned to her and yelled, 'It's Gordy, and I'm going to my house, that's where'."
"Then what?" said Bobby.
"She crossed her arms and stomped her boots on the sidewalk. I looked back two times, maybe three, but I kept on walking."
"You're lucky you dumped her."
"I guess, but it would be nice to have a girlfriend."
"Oh, just because," is the only answer I could come up with.
Bobby and I had our man-to-man conversation as we pulled our sleds to the Old Grove hill. My sled is almost a brand spanking-new Flexible Flyer with an American bald eagle on top, Model 60 H. I got it for Christmas. In past winters, I either sat on a piece of cardboard I got from Peters and Martin grocery store or "borrowed" Doc III's sled with two cracked slats on top. If my oldest brother caught me with his sled, he'd slug me hard on the shoulder. And boy, did that ever hurt.
Bobby had already eyeballed the new sled and said, "Santa Claus was really good to you this year."
"It wasn't from Santa. I got it from my parents."
"I was spoofing."
"I just wanted to make sure you were."
I want you to know another thing, Diary. Both the people who claim they're my parents stopped telling me Christmas presents come from Santa Claus who supposedly rides his sleigh through the sky on Christmas Eve. His sleigh is pulled by nine reindeer, including Rudolph leading the way with his red nose. Gene Autry sings the Rudolph song. So, to a lot of kids, that makes the story true. Crazy Annie and Little Pete still believe in Santa. Older kids know better. Because we're a lot smarter.
So, Diary, now you know how Judy and I became friends no longer. As old people say, "That's the way the cookie crumbles."