The Short Stories of Edward R. Doughty

The Measure

As he walked up the circular driveway to the English Tudor he was as nervous as he thought he could get. He had carefully combed his hair after putting on his best aftershave, which cost 35 dollars a bottle. He wore his new Navy sports jacket and nicely pressed slacks. But all preparations aside, he felt like an idiot. This was his first "real date". He and Susie were going to the 7th grade Canteen Dance in the school gym. He had asked Susie to the dance two weeks ago and he was actually surprised when she said yes. Susie was as cute as the proverbial button. She was about four inches shorter than him, with short brown hair, slight freckles and small but noticeable breasts on her small figure. In short, she was quite attractive.

Now he was standing in front of the large double doors. He rang the bell. Ten seconds later Mr. Fairbanks opened the door. "You must be Jimmy", the tall man said. "Yes, Sir, --- I'm here to take Susie to the dance", Jimmy stammered slightly. "She'll be down in a minute, Jimmy", said Mr. Fairbanks, "Have a seat." Jimmy sat on the large sofa as Mr. Fairbanks excused himself and walked into the kitchen. A minute later Susie came down the stairs looking beautiful. "Hi, Jimmy --- do I need a coat?" It was early October but a bit on the chilly side. "Yeah, I think you better have a light jacket or something." With that Susie opened the hall closet and put on a pale green jacket. Mt. Fairbanks appeared again and said, "You kids have a good time!" Both the "kids" said their goodbyes and departed.

Galveston Grade School was only five blocks away and the two young people walked and talked on the way to the dance. Now that they were actually together Jimmy wasn't quite as nervous. "I like your aftershave, Jimmy." "Thanks. I like your dress". Maybe this was going to be an okay night. Six minutes later they arrived at the dance. The gym had been decorated with green and white balloons --- the school colors. A CD player was playing a slow song and 7 or 8 couples were already dancing. The rest of the kids were milling around or sitting on the long green benches on either side of the gym. Two card tables had been set up at one end of the gym and two mothers were selling cokes in cans. Jimmy and Susie saw Frank and Betty and waved hello to them across the gym. Frank was Jimmy's best friend and Betty was a good friend of Susie's.

The slow song came to an end and a fast song began. All the kids had had dance lessons this year in gym class so Jimmy and Susie began the latest fast dance. After two fast dances they went over to the coke table and Jimmy bought two cokes. They chatted with Frank and Betty for awhile as they sipped their cokes thru straws. After awhile another slow dance came on and Jimmy asked Susie if she wanted to dance. The two of them walked to the center of the dance floor and Susie took Jimmy's hand as they walked. As they began to slow dance Jimmy pulled Susie a little closer and she didn't seem to mind. "God, she felt warm", he thought. "You dance very well", said Susie. "Thanks --- so do you". "Jimmy --- why did you ask me to this dance instead of one of the other girls?" "To be honest with you, Susie --- I think you're the cutest girl in the class and I like you a lot". "Oh, wow --- I'm going to get a big head if you keep saying things like that!" "No, you won't." "Well, I hope not --- I never want to become some snob." "You won't --- I can just tell".

After what seemed like a very short period of time the two and a half hour dance came to a close. The CD player played "Goodnight Sweetheart" for the last dance and almost everyone got up to dance to it. Then it was time to walk Susie home. As they walked those five blocks Jimmy asked, "Would you like to go to the movies with me some time?" "Yes, Jimmy --- I'd like that very much". About a block from Susie's house there was a small park area with two park benches. Susie said, "Do you want to sit and rest here for a couple of minutes?" "Sure." So the two sat on the nearest bench and Jimmy put his arm around Susie's shoulder. They talked of school, friends and their town. Finally Jimmy leaned over and slowly kissed Susie on the lips. She put her arms around him and kissed back. It was terrific! Then the neatest and most surprising thing happened! As they kissed he felt Susie's tongue slip into his mouth. He touched her tongue with his and they held each other tightly. It didn't seem very chilly anymore. Later that night Jimmy would dream of Susie and that special kiss.

Like most young men Jimmy would grow up and go on to experience all kinds of sex with a variety of different girls --- and then with a variety of different women. He would experience some very passionate evenings and nights and he would learn to love at least five different women until he finally chose one to be his wife. But even at age 63 he would still look back and remember that surprising first French kiss he experienced with Susie Fairbanks. As it would be, that kiss would be the kiss by which all future kisses would be measured.

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