I hear the car door slam as I do every Friday night and run to my bedroom window. I see Paul walking to the front porch, his usual confident stride leaving me breathless. He looks stunning in his casual black cotton slacks and pressed collared white shirt. His blond hair is tousled in its typical fashion and his piercing blue eyes are brilliant in the front porch light. I sit at my windowsill watching my father open the door and shake Paul's hand before they disappear into the house.
Paul never complains about waiting on me before a date, which is good considering I am still in the process of getting dressed. I walk to my closet and grab the clothes I had set aside for tonight and begin to dress excitedly.
I thought I would feel some sort of disappointment about tonight, but the truth is I am too excited to be disappointed about anything. I know tonight will be hard on us both and behind the excitement I can feel the tears of pain hollowing away at my heart.
Paul and I have been going steady for three years and since he gave me his class ring last summer, we have been inseparable. He is the only boy Mama would ever approve of, but that's not saying much since his Daddy makes just about as much as mine. We both come from a long line of Cotton. Our Great-Granddaddies brought the cotton gin to our hometown of Savannah Georgia in 1854, our parents still own it to this day. I think Daddy owns more shares than Mr. Peters so it explains why Mama chose to marry Daddy.
Mama was a natural beauty queen, winning Miss Georgia in 1941. She had an abundant selection of men to choose from, but chose Daddy simply out of greed. She has the same greedy attitude when it comes to her youngest daughter's future and was quite pleased when I announced that Paul and I were going steady. Daddy could care less, he just wants his little girl to be happy and that's why he put his foot down with Mama about my plans after High School.
I've always known that I would never need an education. Girls', these days, only goal is to secure a good husband and start a family. I honestly thought the stigma of the fifties would vanish by now, but here it is, 1962 and women are still expected to be homemakers. I have no desire to start a family any time soon nor do I wish to attend some boring college where I can learn to either become a teacher or nurse.
I came up with the idea my junior year and Daddy's eyes lit up when I told him I wanted to travel to Europe and study abroad. He'd always wanted to travel, but Mama kept him home working so he could continue to add to our family fortune. He doesn't care what I study, as long as I live my dream. I don't have a specific subject of study in mind, but I figure it can be something off the wall such as art or philosophy. These are not common fields for women and I knew mama would sulk over my decision which makes me even more excited about leaving next week.
I walk over to my vanity and brush my hair one last time. The natural wave in my hair hangs down just over my breast and I secure it with a bobby pin around the top of my head to make sure unruly hairs don't escape. I applied a small mount of make up to emphasize my yellow cotton dress that hangs down just past my knees. It has already begun to get hot here in Georgia and I know Paul and I are going to spend a lot of time at Lookout Point tonight, so I figure cotton will keep me cool. I give myself one more look in the mirror.
I look….nice, I sigh.
I have never been beautiful or sexy like the woman you see on the big screen. My sister is the epitome of beauty. She has blonde wavy hair that hangs in all the right spots and beautiful rose-colored lips. Her curvy figure looks wonderful in all types of clothing and her eyes are a piercing blue.
Me on the other hand, I can't turn heads unless I walk down the street naked. I have never had a problem with my breast, we Trunket women are gifted in that area, but my body is too skinny and my hair a dull wavy brown. My hazel eyes are dull in comparison to my sisters and I have full lips, but have never figured out the right shade of lipstick to accentuate them so I stick with plain old lip balm.
I am ordinary. I am nothing spectacular, just plain and simple.
I pull out my lip balm and apply a small layer before turning away from my vanity and head towards the stairs.
I run down the stairs in anticipation and catch myself on the landing rail. I have never been graceful like other socialites. I can trip on thin air if I am not careful. My refinement teacher always told Mama I was a lost cause and to never expect to find me elegant. Mama of course was devastated by my teacher's observation, but it didn't bother me that people never saw me as graceful. It doesn't fit my personality.
Paul is standing by the front door talking to daddy just as he does every Friday night when he picks me up for our weekend date. He looks even more stunning in the entryway light. His golden blond hair is a sexy mess and his blue eyes meet mine as he hears me approach. I have always known that I love the man, but seeing him talk to daddy, knowing this is the last time I will see him like this, makes my heart hurt. I have a hard timekeeping the lump in my throat at bay as the realization of tonight comes crashing down on me. I now comprehend that this is our last date. Paul is off to Harvard in the fall and I leave for Europe in less than a week.
Paul smiles brilliantly at me and I try to reciprocate, but I am lost in his eyes and in my saddened thoughts, the urge to cry is even stronger. The overwhelming feeling of this emotion makes me dizzy and I catch the side of the hand rail just in time to see Paul race towards me.
"Eileen, are you ok?" I hear in a distant tunnel of voices
I know I passed out and I can hear what is going on around me, but I can't respond. My body is lifted up, being carried off, but I have no clue as to who is carrying me or where we are going. I feel a soft pillow below me and immediately recognize the soft comforter of my bed.
I have never handled stress very well, always passing out at the most inconvenient moments. I had never passed out in front of Paul before and as I start to feel my hands and feet, I pray that I will pass out again, this time from embarrassment. After realizing my body will not respond on demand, it is time to face my humiliation. I open my eyes, but all I can see is a blurry mess. I realize my tear ducts have failed me, shedding a few unwanted tears from my emotional state.
I cry in my head, from my body's failure to cooperate. I struggle to blink a few times before I can focus on anything. Daddy and Paul are leaning over me with concerned looks on their faces.
"Honey, you ok? You gave me quite a scare." Daddy says in his stern southern voice.
He has the true accent of a southern gentleman. Once one of the most desirable bachelors in town, Daddy was known as quite a catch, but from years of working outdoors and eating too much of Ambrosia's fried chicken, life started to take a toll on his looks. His once handsome face wears the signs of outdoor life. His brows are permanently wrinkled from squinting in the sun and his face is a leathered tan. He has a plump belly that reminds me of Santa Claus and has always worn a suit no matter if he is home or working. He always says "A mans gotta look his best cause you never know when it's your time to go and damn it, I wanna meet my maker in style."
I silently chuckle from my memory and sit up as I wipe the traitor tears from my face. I immediately grab my head and struggle with the pain of a headache before I can respond to Daddy's question.
"I'm ok Daddy, I just, well I think I am overwhelmed with all the activity going on right now, you know, with graduation and then leaving the country, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare ya." I try to sound convincing so I use my softest most sincere voice. I think I succeed because he smiles his compassionate smile and pats me on my shoulder.
I don't want to add that I am now having second thoughts about going to Europe and want more than anything to follow Paul to Harvard.
Wow how can I change my mind so quickly?
Paul grabs my hand and gives me a squeeze.
"We can stay here tonight if you're not feeling well; I can call and cancel our reservations at the restaurant." Paul whispers so only I can hear.
His smile is breathtaking, but he has a look of relief in his eyes as if he really wouldn't mind staying home instead of facing what's to come.
"No, I'm fine, really. I just got excited and was unable to control my emotions."
As much as I dreaded our impending break up, I can't let us escape the inevitable talk.
"Ok Hun, just take your time and feel better. We won't leave until I am sure you won't pass out on me again." Paul says with a wolfish grin. I know he wouldn't mind if I did pass out again, it gives him a reason to touch me in our strict no touch relationship, and the amusement in his eyes makes me grin.
I take a few minutes before I stand up, ready to go. I give Daddy a kiss on the cheek and tell him thanks before I walk down the stairs and retrieve my cardigan.
Paul holds my arm as if I will fall at any minute, but I don't mind. I have craved his touch the last three years and we have done nothing more than kiss a few times since we started going steady. My body welcomes every touch and reacts each time with an audible pounding from my chest.
Paul leads me to the door and looks back at Daddy.
"Don't worry about a thing Mr. Trunket, I will have Eileen home by curfew."
Daddy scratches his head then smiles.
"Oh Paul, you're like family, just have her home whenever you two are finished with your date."
That is… odd.
Daddy knows that Paul is a respectful young man and would never dream of taking advantage of his daughter, but he has never told us we could stay out past curfew. He must know this is going to be a hard night for the both of us and will take some time.
I shake my head in disbelief and head out the door.