Saturday, April 5, 2008

Boyfriends Can Be Handy to Have Around

I was only eleven years old and in the sixth grade when my two next younger sisters caught wind of my flirty ways at recess and excitedly announced the news to Mom that day after school.
“Debbie has a boyfriend!” they tattled, “She’s going with Steve!”

Mom was shocked at the news and questioned the nature of my relationship with the supposed suitor Steve.

I assured her it was no big deal, while my sisters stood behind me shaking their heads in disagreement. I explained that I did not ask him to go with me, but that one of my friends suggested it to one of his friends. Then they got him to agree to go with me and then confronted me with the proposal. Naturally, I agreed. It was cool to go with someone.

Mom was still more than cautious about the announcement.

“Does this mean you’re going to kiss him?” Jackie asked loudly.

Mom gasped.

“Gross!” I shouted in reply, trying to assure them all, especially Mom, that was not part of the plan.

After a few weeks of nothing between Steve and me, as in no phone calls, no notes, no hanging out together at recess, he broke up with me. While my friends were ready to launch a hate campaign against him, before assisting me in finding my next beau, I was not too upset. And so the going together with some random classmate continued off and on throughout my sixth grade year.

The summer before seventh grade, I was going with Doug. And the relationship was upped a notch. Mostly we played around at the community pool where he and his friends would throw my friends and me into the pool. He was a little taller and definitely stronger than the other boys in our grade, and I had noticed. When an injury kept me homebound for a time, he brought me a gold necklace with a heart pendant and we spent hours sitting on my front porch as my sisters and baby brother ran around us. Mom’s concern undoubtedly increased with this advancement in the "going together" definition.

As usual, summer loves rarely last past September, and Doug and I were no different. But he was quickly replaced when Jeff wrote a note to Becky ,to give to me, to ask me to go with him. And so once again, I was no longer single.

By this point my Mom and Dad were still trying to chart a course in the new territory of boyfriends they had been thrown into several years earlier than they had ever anticipated. Always leery and worrying about me, they asked incessant questions.

However, as far as I could tell, going together meant Jeff and I would say, “Hi” to each other when we passed in the hallways at school. He never called my home, but before his family left for Christmas Break and their ensuing trip to Colorado, we did exchange Christmas gifts. He gave me another necklace - my collection was growing - and I gave him a plastic skiing Smurf.

One spring day I was walking around town with my Dad when I saw Jeff approaching from the opposite direction on the sidewalk with his Dad. My heart started to pound. We always acknowledged each other in the school hallway, but in public in front of our fathers? I did not know what to do, so I let him take the lead. As we got closer he started to look at the store fronts so, I looked out at the street. And so we passed without even looking at each other, let alone speaking.

“Hey, wasn’t that that Jeff kid,” my dad wondered after they passed by.

“Shhhhh, Dad. He’ll hear you,” I cautioned.

After that Dad in jest told Mom I could go with any boy I wanted to because it clearly meant we spoke to each other less than we would a typical classmate. Jeff and I continued to go together for the entire school year and into the summer. However, unlike Doug the summer before, Jeff never visited my house and I rarely saw him at the pool.

That July, as a 4-H member I entered the Cherry Pie Baking Contest, one of the traditional festivities for the Fremont County Fair. On my appointed time I walked into the assigned fair building with tables lined in white paper, manure smells wafting the air. With my flour, shortening, rolling pin and other equipment lined up on the table, I prepared by masterpiece. I did well. While I did not win Grand Champion or 1st place, I did place a respectable second.

The next day, after the judging was complete, we went to the grandstands and stood in the dirt where sheep had been parading only hours earlier and holding our pies, we waited for them to be auctioned off. All proceeds were destined to our 4-H group.

Most pies were bid on by family members - in-laws fighting it out to be the top bidder. Many pies went for well over $100, especially if the participants had placed in the contest. As a transplant to Iowa, we did not have any family nearby, and I knew my parents would be unable to afford a competitive bid on my pie. And Dad reasoned if he wanted one of my pies he could ask me to bake one anytime - in a clean kitchen - with no sheep or pigs nearby.

Needless to say, I was more than concerned that my pie might not even sell at all. My fears were initially confirmed when I stepped forward, and the auctioneer announced the bidding. Since mine was a second place pie, he started at fifty dollars. With no takers, he dropped to forty-five, forty, thirty-five, and then thirty. Finally at $25 a local women’s group offered a bid on my pie. Going once, going twice, and then suddenly a man in the shadows of the back raised his hand and placed a bid for $115! Going once, twice and then thrice, my pie sold for a very respectable price.
Although I did not understand the lack of incremental bidding at the time, I didn’t care either. My father, however, was more then curious and after doing a bit of research found an answer to the mystery bidder.

“Linda,” he warned my mom, “This going together might be more of a concern than we originally thought. Jeff’s dad is the one the bought Debbie’s pie.”

Hmmmm…that was news. I guessed that next time I saw them in town I had at least better say, “Hello.”


  1. i can't stop chuckling at your tale. the thought of making a pie while at the fair with all those animal smells, then standing out in the stadium with a little sheep dung on your shoes, peddling your wares . . . too funny.

    i'm sure that your dad had his hands full with five beautiful daughters, even if things did start off a bit slow. poor man.

    ah, the sixth and seventh grade romances. i only hope that my kids' experiences will be so innocent.

  2. What a very cool story! I love it. I found myself wondering, though, as I never participated in 4-H: How did they taste your pie to judge it and then sell the pie? Did they sell it with a slice missing? How does that work?

    I'm impressed by the fact that your "steady's" dad bought the pie. I guess he really liked you!

    Peace - D

  3. Aww what a sweet guy. I can only imagine what the conversation was like between Jeff and his dad after you passed each other on the street that day. Great story.

  4. Michal,

    You are so right, though they seemed complex and confusing at the time, those first crushes...had I only known then what I know now...

  5. Momma,

    Good observation! Every pie was sold sans one slice.

  6. Hilary,

    Yes, Jeff was sweet, but his dad was the sweetest for buying my pie!

  7. Debbie, you have The Gift. And I'm guessing your pies are very upper-crust!!

    And will you tell us how you met DH?

  8. David,

    Hmmmm.... That might be an interesting post.

  9. Okay don't leave me hanging long did the Jeff thing last, did he end up beint the ONE, or was yet another Pie Baking contest? Dish, girl...David sent me over here for the ENTIRE story,

  10. Sandi,

    No, Jeff was not THE ONE. I think it was over by the time we moved on to High School. It was all very innocent. He wasn't even my first kiss, that came a couple years later.

  11. Wow how VERY useful he proved to be! What a lovely guy his dad is! He must have had a soft spot for you. Or maybe badgered by his son...

    Great story. Over from David's.

  12. I'm still laughing about the plastic skiing smurf!!!


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