Friday, October 14, 2011
Oh What a Night!
When it's time to leave, we all pile in my dad's car with my brother and his friends. Us younger girls trying to act cool in front of the older guys. No seat belts were required back then so we squished in, all six of us in a small sedan. Young bodies touching, boys and girls, thrilling and terrifying at the same time.
The excitement builds during the half hour drive out of town. We giggle and fidget in anticipation. Dreams and fantasies of what might happen tonight....what adventures await.
We finally arrive! We all scramble out of the car, straighten our clothes, and rush inside, hearts racing. We have to pay and rent our skates, and oh it took so long to get those skates on. Hurry so we can get out there! The loud music beckons us onto the skate floor.
Clap for the Wolfman is playing as we enter the rink, going with the flow of traffic, picking up speed, around and around the wooden oval shaped floor. The sound of metal wheels on wood synchronizes with the beat of the music. My friends and I hold hands in a chain, trying not to break apart as we round the corners.
Then I see him....and my heart flies up in my chest. It's him, Mark Northridge, the love of my young girl life. My brother's best friend's brother. Our families are friends. I've had my heart set on him since the moment I first saw him in the elementary school hallway. His shoulder length blonde hair that hung over one eye, his flashing blue eyes and his lopsided grin stole my heart almost immediately.
I'd had a crush on him for years. We were friends but did he feel more for me than that? He was so quiet and shy, I couldn't be sure of anything. He was always kind to me and seemed to enjoy my company.... I always held out hope.
I catch his eye and he shyly waves. I smile and I'm sure I add a little more flair and style to my skating form as I continue around the rink. Eric Clapton is singing "I shot the sheriff...." as my friends and I talk and giggle as we skate. My eyes never lose sight of Mark.
The night flows on. Races, games and couples skate have come and gone as the DJ has kept us entertained. We take a few soda and snack breaks, sitting in the dark watching the other skaters and averting our eyes to the older teenage couples making out in dark corners.
It's almost time to go and my heart is feeling heavy as my dream of skating the couples dance with Mark did not come to pass.
Then it's the last song of the night and it's girls' choice. Girls' choice? My heart starts racing as I wonder, "Should I ask him? What if he says 'No?' Do I possibly have the nerve?" And then I hear Frankie Vallie crooning "Oh what a night... late December back in '63..." and it's my most favorite song in the whole world and I feel my body get up off the bench, and I am floating over to Mark where he is sitting, and I hear myself asking him if he would like to skate with me, and then I hear him say "Yes" and we are on the skating floor and then.....he smiles at me and takes my hand in his.....and it's not just a friendly hand holding...he slowly and deliberately intertwines his fingers with mine! And I swear my little heart is going to pop right out of my chest at that very moment. I can hardly breathe as we skate slowly together, hand-in-hand. And I never want that song to end.
To this day, whenever I hear any of those songs from that long ago year of Friday nights at the roller rink, all those pre-teen memories and feelings come flooding back and I am transported back in time -- to a time of innocence and coming of age. And that song by The Four Seasons will always hold a special place in my heart. A reminder of that one magical evening when I was Mark's special girl for three minutes at the skating rink. "I remember, what a night..."
Is there a special night in your memory?