New Years is a time for new beginnings. It also causes me to reflect on old beginnings. How many things have you done that left an indelible impression when you did them for the first time?
My mother took me to meet the kindergarten teacher at PS 77 in New York City. The teacher’s name was Mrs. Green. I told her I knew my ABC’s, could count to 100 and write my name, so she didn’t need to teach me a thing. She told me to go sit down. Maybe Mrs. Green did teach me a few things, but I remember two things she didn’t teach me. Mrs. Green tried, but was unable to teach me to take a nap (a skill I had lost long before arriving at kindergarten) and she tried but was unable to teach me how to skip. Yes, that’s right, I flunked skipping in kindergarten, but I made up for it with a vengeance in college.
Graduating from high school is supposed to be one of life’s milestone events. I remember very little about that day and most of my memories revolve around the girl I was dating at the time. I can even describe what she wore that day, but not what I wore. I remember a lot more about graduating from college. I got a BA and an MPA the same day. My sister got her MLS the same day I acquired my two degrees.
It was a cold, overcast day when my first driver’s license came in the mail. The family car was parked in front of the house and I had to go from Syosset NY to Plainview NY. With my newly minted driver’s license in my pocket, I walked. The car wasn’t properly insured for me to drive it. I had grey hair when I took my road test. I was in dress rehearsals for a high school play. The road test examiner asked me how old I was (17) but didn’t ask me to explain the grey hair, so I didn’t.
I remember the first car I owned. I know where I got it and roughly when, but I don’t remember driving it for the first time. It must have been when I took it for a test drive, before I bought it.
My first airplane ride was from Tompkins County Airport in Ithaca NY to La Guardia in Queens. The plane bounced three times when it landed.
I don’t remember my first kiss with my first girlfriend. I know who she was. Her name was and probably still is Barbara and she lived across the street from my Godmother on Lorraine Ave., in Union, New Jersey. I don’t remember why we broke up though and I think that’s strange.
I do remember life’s other big break ups. If my second girlfriend ever thinks about our break up, I’m sorry. I was an inexperienced jerk. I am a much more experienced jerk today.
I remember taking a pretty girl named Judy on a date. It was my first date with her but not my first date. She shook my hand when I took her home. I hadn’t even tried to kiss her, but she shook my hand! She was the only girl I ever dated who did that. I didn’t ask Judy out again.
I don’t remember the first two times I met my wife, but she does. She was not favorably impressed. But, after many years together, I got her to stop teasing me about the first time. I didn’t pay attention to my wife that time because we were introduced at the end of my senior year in high school by the sophomore girl I was dating at the time. Sophomore, as you probably know, has Greek roots and basically means wise fool. I didn’t try to “better-deal” my date at the time. I wouldn’t try to “better-deal” my wife today either. Frankly, I couldn’t possibly “better-deal” my wife.
I remember the third time we met–the first time I noticed. I recall thinking at the time that subsequent meetings would be an extremely good idea. I was right about that.
Here’s the strangest thing. I don’t remember the first time I kissed a girl, I remember the one girl I dated but didn’t kiss though. I only remember the first time I kissed one girl: my wife! She was 17 at the time which is why I say girl and not woman. I asked her once what I did to change her mind from being miffed at me for ignoring her in the past to dating me, kissing me and spending the rest of her life with me. She doesn’t remember.