I was 19 years old and I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I graduated from a private Christian school and I had the summer to think about my future. I was working at the golf course, cleaning golf carts. It was a simple job, full of interesting personalities. I had to run to work to clock in. I borrowed my parent’s car to attend community college and my only friend was the neighborhood boy with a traumatic brain injury down the street. On the weekends, I’d go over to his house to watch football games. My friend’s mom was Jewish and she changed religions each year. It was Catholicism, then Christianity, and finally Buddhism. She was a special education teacher with three daughters. Her husband was a machinist.

“Bob, when are you going to put in the new deck?” Judy asked.

“As soon as Richard is free.” Richard was Bob’s brother. “I’ll just need to buy 48 cans of Budweiser and we’ll be set for Saturday.”

They worked on that deck from morning until sunset, operating power tools and drinking beer. They enjoyed working together, making sawdust, and giving my friend a hard time.

“You know what the boy did yesterday?” Bob asked.

“No,” I said.

“He washed the cars. I paid him 20 dollars. Then he put the bill under a rock in the middle of the street. Kenny came by and picked it up. Then Christopher ran into the street accusing him of being a thief. Wanted to call the police on him. Came screaming into my office saying ‘I got ‘im dad… I got ‘im dad.'”

Christopher looked sheepishly at both of us when his dad told the story. “Hey…Hey…,” he laughed.

His sisters were all older than he was. They went to college and majored in pre-law, sociology, and education. They dated black guys and had hot tub parties on their deck.

I walked over from my parent’s house to say “Hi.”

“Hey Andy, how’s it hanging?” Sarah asked.

“Pretty good,” I said. I didn’t know what it meant and they laughed.

They were in their swimsuits drinking beer while Bob worked on their cars.

“Do you get out very much and go to parties?” Bob asked.

“Not really,” I said.

“Then what do you do, then?”

“I’m in college and I work full time.”

“You got to live a little. Have a beer.”

“No thanks, I don’t drink.”

“Bob, I think he’s a Mormon,” Judy said.

“I’m not a Mormon.”

“That’s okay, in time, you’ll find that all religions are true.”

“I’m not so sure about that,” I said.

I was a hardline Christian trying to do the right thing. Our pastor went through mid-life crisis to build Harley-Davidsons in Mississippi and before he left, I knew something was off. He was reading the philosophers and loved to talk about them during Sunday morning bible studies.

His pupils were teenagers, forced to be there by their parents, the elders of the church. Bobby was into drugs. When the pastor talked about Armageddon, he started wigging out. Pastor Mark switched topics to bible curriculum and existential philosophy.

“You’re preaching false doctrine,” I said.

“What?” Mark challenged.

“You need to get back into scripture and read your bible.” His bald head turned red, with purple splotches around his ears.

“How dare you.”

I smiled inside. When I challenged authority, everybody liked it.

There were these twin girls in class. One was pretty and the other athletic. One was missing teeth and the other, boobs. They both got implants. The athletic one lost weight and got double Ds and the pretty one got false teeth. I was attracted to both, but the athletic one wanted to do something about it. I didn’t have a clue.

She asked my mom if she could fly on a plane with me to Mississippi.

“Andy doesn’t fly.”

Then she started attending the same college. She took classes I was taking and I kept ignoring her because I didn’t know how to talk to women. Finally, I realized I needed to do something about it. She wouldn’t leave me alone.

“Would you like to go on a date?” I asked.

“I thought you’d never ask.” I got her phone number, but I was really anxious. I was terrified of getting lost. I only knew one route to the movie theater and if I took the wrong turn, I might have a panic attack.

On the way there, I nearly lost my nerves.

“Just get us back on the road and everything will be fine,” she said.

I took the right turn and we made it to the movie on time. The man taking our tickets checked her out; everybody was checking her out. I was thinking about how I was going to get home. My nerves were shot. Periodically, she slipped her hand up my leg during the film. Finally, I kissed her.

“Would you like to drive us home?” I asked.

She laughed. “You’re such a jokester.” I was serious. I wasn’t sure I was going to make it back. We got in the car and made it home. She kissed me. “You’re so cute,” she said. I walked upstairs and laid on the family-room floor.

“Never again,” I said. “Dating is too much excitement.” I checked my blood pressure. It was over 200. That was our first and last date and I still think about it fondly, years later.

One thought on “Coming of Age

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