Judgment & Survival
© 2015 By Jack Bogut
Gene Raymond had an old four-door sedan with a three speed manual transmission with reverse and second gear gone, important because that meant he had to crawl up the mountains between Dillon and Anaconda, Montana in low gear. And he had to be careful going down the other side because doing something stupid or dangerous in a car almost always involves reverse.
That combination of things was good news for me. It meant he couldn’t fight his Golden Gloves opponent, shower, get dressed, and drive back before I got Chrissy home. But first, how I got this opportunity (or into this pickle).
Chrissy Kelly was easily the most beautiful girl in Beaverhead County High School. She was not only pretty but friendly, kind and approachable to everyone. In fact, Chrissy seemed unaware of her looks and not “stuck up” as we called some of her peers. She was also “overdeveloped for her age” and a much admired example of human construction. That’s why many of us stuttered in her presence and had complexions that only a dermatologist could love.
After skating, I got Chrissy to the door and panic set in. I knew I had to make a move at the door but didn’t have a clue how to go about it. Of course I’d seen movies and had listened to some of my more sophisticated peers tell about their experiences, never dreaming for a moment they were lying or faking firsthand knowledge. Basically, I thought I knew enough to get by until I got to the door. That’s when panic started to take over conscious thought and threatened bodily functions. I had no idea how to begin.
Do you look at the target, zero in, and after you make contact, close your eyes? Or can you leave your eyes open? If you do, what it she looks back at you? I settled on closing my eyes and hunting for the target.
Now, about your breath: Do you take a deep one and hold it while you blindly hunt for the target? Or do you get a firm liplock and then hold it? And if it’s a long one, are you allowed to breathe through your nose?
There’s also a positioning problem: she has to go one way and you have to go another so that you can meet and make that magical X under your noses.
I had some disasters later on in my romantic career-Claudette McClelland looked up at the moon, smiled and said, “Thanks for a great time …” and because I went in both deaf and blind, I got all those teeth. In a panic I said, “Sorry …” and backed off with my eyes still closed to come in again. That’s when I got her nose. She said when I tried to focus on where I’d landed, my eyes were severely crossed. That’s why she laughed in delight and I melted away in rejection.
But none of that happened with Chrissy Nelson. She went left; I went right; and we met in a perfect “X” right under our noses. It was awesome! And I didn’t have to worry about how long to hold it. Her Dad had been lurking just inside the door and whipped the porch light on to end the event. As nearly as I can recall, he shouted something at me as I ran down the lane toward the highway. A direct quote escapes me but I think it had something to do with my size and ancestry.
The rest of that weekend is a blur in my memory. It must have been a good one because I arrived at school Monday in a euphoric fog. I was hanging ten-toes off the board on the crest of an emotional wave that would never hit the beach when it all came to an end in the Boys Room. I was washing my hands when Geno came in and saw me. He leaned against the door and squeezed all the air out of the cylinder in a tortured wheeze as he scanned under the partitions for feet. There were none. No one there but the two of us.
“Hey, Bogut, I heard you took Chrissy to
Saturday night!” Dillmont Park
And I responded with a very sincere, “Don’t worry about it Geno. I was just there; a friend, kind of a fill-in for you, a chaperone! As a matter of fact, I’d be glad to sub for you and watch out for Chrissy anytime you’re out of town. Just let me know, OK?”
“Really?” He said, as if he had been painted into a corner and wasn’t sure how to get out without sticking to the floor. (Not the brightest bulb on the tree but he was decorative.) And that was the end of it.
Judgment and survival.