Dorothy Boatz's Memories

 

"You won't believe this, but - -"

by

Dorothy Boatz

 

"The First Date"

Bob and I have suffered through all the phases relatedto raising a family of seven. We have been proud, pleased, elated and smug;we have endured shock, after-shock, discouragement, disappointment, humiliation,horror, emotional upsets and the what-is-this-younger-generation-coming-to-blues,but there is absolutely nothing that requires more patience, tact and fortitudethan the "Boy-friend" phase.

Our first encounter with the dreaded "first date"came on with the suddenness of a toothache. One day our daughter Mary wasrising her tricycle, losing her front teeth and getting spanked for sittingin a mud-puddle, and the next day she had blossomed into an attractive highschool junior, old enough to venture out on her own and away from her parents'watchful and critical supervision. All too soon she came home from schoolwith the breathless announcement that she had a date for the school danceTONIGHT.

She had a "million things to do" before eighto'clock when HE would arrive, the first and most important thing being toORGANIZE THE TROOPS. And so it was "Beth, will you press my dress;Mom, will you please keep Jerry and Susan out of the way, don't let Mickand Dave fight, have the kitchen cleaned up, dishes done and pout away,floor swept, wear a clean apron, have your hair combed, don't let Dad goto sleep on the davenport, tell him to keep his shoes on, be nice to Mikewhen he comes, don't ask any dumb questions and don't let the kids watchus when we leave."

I was a completely programmed Bionic Mother with eighto'clock arrived and Mike's knock at the door brought everyone into theirprescribed positions. I opened the door, graciously admitted Mike, waitedfor the introduction that didn't come, asked no dumb questions; Bob woreshoes, Mick and Dave temporarily abandoned their favorite recreation, Jerryand Susan were not in evidence, the kitchen was painfully clean and unnatural,and I wore a clean apron. Mike and Mary were allowed to make their relieveddeparture, unencumbered with an audience or advice - and the ordeal wasover!

We had all played our parts to perfection, worthy of AcademyAwards, and now all that remained was for us to pace the floor, watch theclock and worry until midnight - the time set for their return.

So began and ended the first date ritual - soon to be followedby a succession of other dates and similar regimented programs of behavior,fixed smiles, clean aprons and angelic brothers and sisters. Keeping Bobin an upright position was the most difficult part of the whole operation.Gradually, as her dates became more frequent and less of a novelty, we wereallowed to relax. Bob's shoes came off, my apron acquired the lived-in lookand Jerry and Susan were allowed to come out of hiding. Mick and Dave resumedtheir battle stations and life became more bearable - until the advent ofRoger, the one who was destined to be her husband.

Mary planned the "Engagement Dinner" to be heldat our house, an event intended to bring the two families together for theirfirst meeting. Suddenly the house was all wrong, the walls needed painting,the davenport was lumpy, the chairs were outdated, the rug needed cleaning,the drapes were the wrong color - and our stainless steel "silverware"DIDN'T MATCH.

Beth, Beth's current boyfriend, Jerry, Susan, Roger, Mary,Mom, Dad and whoever happened to have the misfortune of visiting us theday before the big event, were pressed into service, and the tired old housebegan to take on new life and a more presentable appearance.

It was the "first date" all over again. We allassumed our positions, stood at attention, the clean apron came out of storage,necks and ears were washed, hair was combed, Bob wore shoes, Jerry and Susanwere old enough to be seen, if not heard, and the plastic tablecloth wasreplaced with a cloth one - but there was a difference! Frank and Charlotteturned out to be "our kind of people." They were easy to meet,comfortable to be with and evening was a complete success, especially whenCharlotte admitted that she, too, had silverware that 'DIDN'T MATCH."otte admitted that she, too, had silverware that 'DIDN'T MATCH."