It’s funny how now that I’m older, I don’t mind having warm weather in November. But back when I was a kid, I would have been panicking by now. Why? Because there HAD to be ice on the ponds for the Thanksgiving and Christmas school vacations.
When I was in junior high, the most popular winter hangout was Dorrs Pond on Manchester’s North End. On Friday nights, my friend Janet and I, our ice skates slung over our shoulders, would walk all the way from the West Side over to Dorrs Pond to go skating. The cool thing about skating there was it had a nice big hut with a fireplace and plenty of hot cocoa inside. And music was played over a loudspeaker so skaters could glide along to the songs.
But to be honest, the whole purpose of skating at Dorrs Pond wasn’t actually to skate. The real reason why junior-high kids gathered there on Friday nights and during school vacations was to meet members of the opposite sex. And back then, there was a strict protocol that had to be followed for the all-important “meeting.”
There was a certain section of the ice, a well-lit area of the pond in front of the hut, where the girls would skate in groups, while the boys circled them like vultures. Every few minutes, one of the boys would skate over to the girl of his choice, snatch her hat from her head and skate off with it…down to the dark, woodsy end of the pond. At this point, the girl was supposed to chase the boy so she could get her hat back. Thus, a meeting would ensue. And if the guy was really brave, he might even try to steal a kiss in the dark by using the old, “I’ll trade you your hat for a kiss,” blackmail trick.
Well, Janet and I usually skated until we were so chilled, we nearly lost all feeling in our legs, yet we never got our hats snatched. We even tried wearing hats that begged to be stolen, like fake rabbit-fur Cossack hats and multi-colored striped stocking caps with huge pompoms on them.
I think part of our problem was that it wasn’t easy to look attractive to members of the opposite sex when we were dressed in bulky ski-pants, three sweaters, long underwear, two pairs of socks, huge mittens and jackets so big and thick, a woman who was about to give birth to triplets could have worn one and no one would have suspected she was pregnant.
The guys, on the other hand, wouldn’t have been caught dead in anything warm. They had to look “cool” at all times, even if it meant turning blue, so most of them wore jeans or chinos and lightweight barracuda jackets.
Then, one Friday night…it finally happened. Janet and I, frozen, tired and red-cheeked, with our noses running, vowed to skate only one more time around the lighted part of the pond, and then head home. Suddenly, out of nowhere, we felt our hats being yanked off our heads. After we got over the initial shock, we raced after the two thieves.
They introduced themselves as Bob and Norm, two guys from the Pinardville area. Bob was short with a really bad complexion. Norm was tall, painfully thin, blonde and so pale, he looked as if he had never seen sunlight. Janet and I didn’t care. We figured that any guys who had the good taste to steal our hats couldn’t be all that bad.
We skated with Bob and Norm for a while, then agreed to meet them at Dorrs the next Friday night for an evening of couples’ skating. All the way home that night, Janet and I gleefully sang two popular songs of that era that perfectly fit our situation: “I Want to be Bobby’s Girl” and “Norman, Ooh-ooh, Ooh-ooh” (I may have left out one or two “oohs” there).
Anyway, the novelty of Bob and Norm wore off pretty quickly. They turned out to be really immature…and pesty. Janet didn’t have a phone, so she gave Bob my phone number. Whenever he wanted to talk to her, which was about 25 times a day during school vacation, he would call me and I would have to run across the street to get her. And when Janet wasn’t available, he would bend my ear for an hour. Norm, on the other hand, was shy. He called often, but said only two or three sentences per call.
And the first time we actually saw them in the daylight, Janet and I realized they had looked a lot better at the dark end of Dorrs Pond. Norm was even more ghostly looking in the light, and Bob’s teeth were in pretty bad need of a dentist. And naturally, Janet and I, being normal, superficial pre-teens, wanted our boyfriends to look like Ricky Nelson and Troy Donahue.
So we stopped going to Dorrs Pond for a while, and whenever Bob or Norm called, I made my mom say I wasn’t there. Eventually, the boys took the hint.
Years later, I was working as a newspaper correspondent and was covering a story about a new construction project. As I was standing there interviewing the project manager, one of the workers, clad in a tank top, snug jeans and work boots walked over to us. He was tall and blonde, very muscular, had a gorgeous tan, and flashed a gleaming white smile at me. No kidding, the guy could have posed for the centerfold in “Construction Hunks Monthly.”
“Hi, Sally!” the hunk greeted me.
I just stared blankly at him, my mouth hanging open.
“It’s me, Norm!” he said. “You remember me and Bob…Dorrs Pond?”
Now that I think about it, maybe I should go grind the rust off my ice skates and take up skating again.
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HELP GIVE A DOG OR CAT A MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Every year at this time, I offer signed copies my books, There’s a Tick in my Underwear!, Heed the Predictor or Conceal the Predictor, that you can order directly from me for $10 each (the price includes shipping), with a portion of the proceeds being donated to the Manchester Animal Shelter – the shelter where I adopted my dog, Eden. To order, send $10 to me at PO Box 585, Suncook, NH 03275-0585. I’ll even personally autograph it to anyone you’d like, if you specify his or her name (please print clearly). You also can pay me through my Paypal account (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you want to use a credit or debit card. Thank you in advance! The animals and I really appreciate it!
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