You’d think your freshman year in high school is sufficiently burdened that unnecessaryones wouldn’t be foisted upon you. Well, you didn’t go to my high school. Of all the goll-darnthings, on registration day I found out I had to take ball room dance—with girls.It isn’t that I hadn’t been to junior high dances. I had; even danced a few with one or more of myfavorite girls. It was the idea of the very proposition.It was clear that not only would I be required to take ball room dance, but that a lady teacher wouldbe telling me how to hold a girl in my arms. What made matters worse is that dance class would beheld in the girls’ gym! Now, come on; what self-respecting high school freshman’s ego can survive such anopening salvo? Thank God for one thing: I was assigned the prettiest dance partner in the wholeclass. Not only that, she would be mine three days a week from the beginning of September untilthe Christmas break. Holy Jesus! Her name was Rebecca Rockmanovich; and, she didn’t want to be called Becky either.It had to be Rebecca. Brownish hair; beautiful hazel eyes and a complexion any thirteen year oldgirl would die for. It was her height that garnered her assignment into my arms. It’s the same asmine. Oh, by the way; my name is Ritchie Jackson. I wasn’t a popular kid in high school; justan average guy with average friends. I was kind of a scrawny and unassuming. For me to score thelikes of Rebecca Rockmanovich as a dance partner for the entire semester was pure luck.
There were actually two lady P.E. teachers in charge of teaching the school’s incomingfreshmen the basics of ballroom dance. One was tall with such big tits you’d think she was going tofall over any minute; like the proverbial Leaning Tower. Her name was Miss Brickland. She wasalso the stricter of the two “coaches.” Can a guy call a female P.E. teacher “Coach”? Well, maybeonly freshmen guys are required to do so. The other teacher was average height, average build, and very attractive. Most guys inclass wished she was their dance partner. Yours truly excluded, of course; after all, I’d already beenblessed with the assignment of accompanying the aspiring Miss Rockmanovich through her moves.The pretty coach’s name was Mrs. Robinson. That’s right, damn it, she was married. On learningthat fact, there was a collective groan from the swaggering freshmen; the ones whose peckers justshrunk to less than two inches on receipt of that dream-busting incremental information. Through all this, I did have to admit one thing. The girls’ gym had a beautiful hardwoodfloor. Its slats were even and the boards were polished to a high gloss. The boy’s gym floorshowed wear against the rough and tumble of manly aggression. After all, this is Flatbush MountainHigh School; the home of the Kodiak Bears. It didn’t take long for Rebecca and me to meet; up close and personal, that is. On thefirst day of dance class, we were told to line up with our assigned dance partner. That was big tits’first command. She didn’t suggest or ask nice and polite like. Rather, she barked the order. Noone dared to delay obedience complete and unequivocal.
Boys were instructed to line up on the west court line, facing east. That was a referenceto the west boundary line of the girls’ basketball court, which filled most of the gym. Girls wereinstructed to face their partner and to stand at a distance of two feet. The only space thenseparating the fair and beautiful Rebecca Rockmanovich from Ritchie Jackson could be covered inone step! Miss Brickland barked again, “Gentlemen, you will not assault these ladies with youradolescent inquisitiveness. You will touch these ladies only upon being instructed to do so andonly in the manner so instructed. Do I make myself perfectly clear? If anyone disobeys thisinstruction you will be sent to the Dean of Boys’ Office and placed on after-school detention.” After Miss Brickland’s threat against every male in the girls’ gym that first day, Rebeccaand I got down to business. Mrs. Robinson took the helm and instructed the boys, “Gentlemen,approach your dance partner and hold your left arm up at a 90 degree angle and hold your lefthand open at a 45 degree angle toward your partner. Ladies, approach your partner and put yourright hand in his left hand. Gentlemen, the idea is to allow her hand to rest comfortably in yours.Gently wrap your fingers around hers. Next, Gentlemen, take your right arm and reach up underyour partner’s left arm and find her left shoulder blade. Hold her at the bottom of her leftshoulder blade with your right hand cupped. Ladies, take your left hand and place it on yourpartner’s upper right arm with your thumb pointing toward his right shoulder.” “Geez,” I thought to myself, “does she ever take a breath?” The instructions ensued.
“This position, Ladies and Gentlemen, is referred to as a closed dance frame,” continuedMrs. Robinson. Fortunately, we had to hold this position for a few minutes while the two coachestraversed the 30 or so couples now frozen together to ensure their closed dance frame followed theinstructions. I looked at Rebecca; she looked at me. She didn’t seem nervous; she smiled. Icontinued counting my lucky stars for this moment. Chances are the likes of RebeccaRockmanovich would never allow the likes of Ritchie Jackson to ever reach such a position outsidethe mandate of freshmen dance class. Thankfully, it was the attractive Mrs. Robinson who arrived to check out whetherRebecca and I measured up. She raised my left arm a little saying, “Just relax your hand a little andlet hers rest there.” Two women, both enticingly attractive, in such close proximity. Could it getany better? I knew I would be the first to arrive at dance class and the last to leave. After a few more minutes, Miss Brickland bellowed, “Ladies and gentlemen, the firstballroom dance you will learn is called the Fox Trot. The step count is two slow steps forwardcommencing on the gentlemen’s left step, then two quick steps taken at a slight 45 degree angle tothe gentlemen’s left and the ladies’ right, again commencing on the gentlemen’s left step.” We practiced the Fox Trot the rest of the class. Rebecca was not only pretty, but she wasfragrant. Moreover, she was the dance class’s fashion diva. All those things made my head spineach time I held her in my arms, three times a week.
It got to the point, though; I just had to know what it was like being close to her. I meanreally close. The devil made me think to myself, “Ritchie, if you inched in on that closed danceframe . . .” I used my peripheral vision to locate the tyrannical Ms. Brickland. She was at the far endof the girl’s gym helping my friend, Wayne Jennings. His dance partner was Elizabeth Coolidge,popularly known as Liz. Ms. Brickland seemed to be reading Wayne the riot act. “Atta boy,Wayne,” I considered from a safe distance, “keep her busy.” I then glanced around for the attractive one. She was four couples over from Rebeccaand me. Slow, slow, quick, quick, slow, slow, and smash. “Oops,” I said to Rebecca as I caressedher breasts with my chest, “sorry.” She briefly smiled; but then reinforced the proper distance by pushing me off, if ever soslightly. Slow, Slow, quick, quick; the Fox Trot continued. I again looked around again to be sure I wasn’t caught. Neither teacher was making abeeline for the scene of the crime. So, I figured I got away with that one; at least as far as theteachers were concerned. However, a sudden sense of guilt then came over me. Who was I totake advantage of the innocence entrusted to my care? What a schmuck! It was clear Miss Rockmanovich forgave me. I say as much because whenever the danceframe collapsed, seemingly on its own motion, she transparently warmed all over. Moreover,whenever I could get her to look in my eyes, it seemed to make her face glow; become defined by aradiance. Such observations tend to stick with you for a long time. That’s the way RebeccaRockmanovich touched Ritchie Jackson our freshman year at Flatbush Mountain High School.
Ah, but don’t let me mislead you about freshmen at Flatbush Mountain High School.We are not always sentimental. Rather, we tend to view ourselves as born under the same sign asour mascots: The Kodiak Bears. After all, on arriving among the high school’s corridors, we haveto write a unique signature on the school’s heritage. As guys will be guys, when my friends and me gathered in the lunch room we talkedabout our dance partners. I always got asked a lot of questions about Rebecca. But after Icondemned myself for copping a feel, I was unwilling to speak to intimate matters. I just tossed in afew words about non-existent conversation, like what homework was causing her difficulties,whether she planned to go to the Friday night football game, and so forth. My tidbits proveduninteresting to the inquisitive; and, that’s the way I wanted to keep it. Every time I held Rebecca in my arms after having avoided the lunch crowd gossip I feltvindicated in protecting her. It gave me the right and privilege to enjoy the warmth she emanatedand glowing she radiated. Yes, indeed, I was entitled. Contrary to my thoughts at the beginning of September, I no longer wanted the semesterto quickly proceed. Time can be cruel under such circumstances. It always accelerates when youwant it to endure; and crawl when you want it discounted. Rebecca gave me a new cause foravoiding the end of the year. But, the clock has a mind of its own; September turned into Octoberand before you knew it, we were heading into the middle of the month. During the second week of October, my friend Wayne Jennings gave me a birthday partyinvitation from his emerging girlfriend, Liz Coolidge. She was turning 14 on October 17th, aSaturday evening. Thankfully, her party would not conflict with the Friday night football game.
I asked, “Who else is coming?” “Well, Ritchie, Liz said she wanted to invite kids from our dance class,” he explained,“because she wants her birthday party to be a dance party.” “Who else from our dance class is coming?” I wanted to pound the information out ofhis smart aleck mouth. He knew damned well what I wanted to know. He was playing it slow justto make me suffer. I would give him another five seconds to confess; then I intended to give him ashiner. “All right, Ritchie, calm down,” he reconsidered my now clenched fists, “she’s coming,she’s coming.” “Who’s coming?” I demanded. “Rebecca’s coming,” he sweated out that final tidbit. The he added, “And about tenother people from our dance class.” Saturday, October 17th was a week from tomorrow. God, now I wanted time to hurryagain. I swore I would have to have a talk with the time keeping gods and goddesses: slow or fast?They seemed to get it all mixed up. Father Time hastened the three dance classes leading into Liz’s fourteenth birthday party.He was supposed to get busy with the rest of the week, too. But, when I wasn’t in dance class withRebecca it seemed time crawled toward the weekend. Saturday night finally arrived. Liz’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Coolidge, were thechaperones. When you’re in high school it seems knowing your friends’ parents by their first nameis like a leak of classified information.
The party was fun. There were snacks and sodas; and a birthday cake for Liz. Rebeccawas there, too. But, it seemed the girls kept more to mingling among themselves; which translatesthe boys did the same, in case you’re incapable of brilliant reasoning. Deductively, I had littleconversation or eye contact with Rebecca. My Mother had taken me shopping for Liz’s birthday present. Mother picked out amirror, brush, and comb set for her. Liz seemed to like it. Wayne spent his allowance for the nextthree years and bought her a pair of roller skates. Of course, she said, “Wayne, this is great, youshouldn’t have!” A kiss on the cheek was his reward. Wayne blushed. Father time was in charge of the clock at the party, too. I could tell. The party seemedto be speeding its way to conclusion. As time approached 9 o’clock, many kids had left; leavingthree boys and three girls. Wayne, Steve Lipschwitz, and I accounted for the stags in the room.Liz, Rebecca, and Patty Cashman totaled the doe population. Liz’s parents were engulfed in The Dean Martin show, leaving the six of us in the familyroom, pretty much without supervision. I say as much because it wasn’t long after it got down tothree boys and three girls that Liz, with a buoyant excitement, announced, “It’s my birthday so I getto decide what game we will play.” “We’re going to play spin the bottle,” she announced holding up an empty NeHi Grapesoda bottle. “Spin the bottle?” I quietly enquired of myself.
“Here are the rules,” the bold Liz Coolidge proclaimed, “we draw numbers out of myGirl Scout beret, then we sit boy, girl, boy, girl, boy, girl in a circle. Whoever draws the numberone spins the bottle first. If it’s a boy, then he has to kiss the girl the bottle stops the closest to; if it’sa girl she has to kiss the closest boy.” There was a collective gasp. I looked at Rebecca. Her face looked shocked. But, it wastoo late. Liz was already commanding everyone draw a number. I complied; so did Rebecca, aswell as everyone else. Liz took the last number; so I suspected the game might be rigged. Surely,she wanted to start things off by kissing Wayne; why else would she be so eager to promote thisevent? You can’t believe the shock that came over me. After all had assumed a cross-leggedposition on the floor, I unraveled my lottery number: 1. I wanted to keep it a secret.But, Liz demanded, “Okay everyone, who has number 1?”Silence and more silence; I was embarrassed. Finally, I uttered, “I do.” And I surrendered thedeed to the investigating Liz. “Ritchie!” she announced, “Congratulations! Spin the Bottle!” I put so much torque on that spin I didn’t want it to stop until it was time to go home. Iwould either have to kiss Liz, Patty, or Rebecca. That means the odds were 2:3 against Rebecca.The bottle kept wobbling its spin on the family room tiled floor. Finally, it looked like it wasleaning toward Patty Cashman when it committed its final burst of energy to land on RebeccaRockmanovich; squarely pointing dead center of her perfectly folded legs. She looked at the bottleas if to say, “How dare you?”
Liz didn’t waste a moment: “All right! Ritchie and Rebecca have to stand up in themiddle of the circle until Ritchie kisses Rebecca---on the lips!” The whole time Liz was bearing down on Rebecca and me with her unwaveringinstructions, I was looking at Rebecca’s face. She was incredulous. Apparently, she must havebeen peer pressured into this moment. She was more shocked than any of my escapades to brushup against her in dance class. She mesmerized yours truly. I could no more take my eyes off her as I contemplatedhow to structure my approach to kiss her lips. Having held Rebecca in my arms on numerousoccasions to affect proper frame, my instinct to reach out to her, to comfort her in my arms cameas natural as she allowed it to be in dance class.I noticed tears welling up in her eyes. I didn’t want her to suffer; I wanted her to know this was myfirst time too. Isn’t it funny how destiny declared this moment; a respective first kiss by one of theopposite sex who wasn’t also related? I would be her first kiss; she would be mine. Maybe thismoment would last our lives, maybe it would fade. Only by Father Time’s invention wouldRebecca and I know the outcome. Drawing the number one proved to be an incredible responsibility. By now, her tearscascaded Rebecca’s cheeks. At this moment I transcended a boy’s rite to passage. I reached up,first, with my right hand and then my left. I carefully touched the beauty of Rebecca’s face toremove the trail of water; quietly condemning its confession. Her eyes closed and her lips held thehint of a soft quiver.
I somehow managed to keep my eyes open as I leaned forward, watching my lips comecloser to hers. Concomitantly, the chants, “Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!” came to a hush; as if everyone elsehad disappeared from the room. I could see the details of her lips, the intricate folds defining a texture sure to be thenight’s soft soliloquy. Finally, I accepted responsibility for both Rebecca Rockmanovich andRitchie Jackson. Our lips met, signing destiny into existence; a loving memory now licensed. The End