Sunday, December 17, 2006

Pam 1

Some time ago, UK radio and TV presenter, Opal Bonfante, asked me to write the back stories of the wonderful women who have broken my heart. Reluctant at first, because of the effort required, I did the two Kellies, so far. Now, after a suitable rest, I feel up to doing the prequel story of Pam 1.
When I was 16, I was in my Senior year at the prestigious private school, Woodmere Academy. In the spring of 1976, during my final semester, a party was held at the school, one evening. I vaguely remember it being a Saturday, or something like that. I had been having a rough time in the girlfriend department, for a couple of years. I had a brief fling with a girl in my neighborhood, the summer of 1975, but other than that, I had been single. I had grown used to going to movies alone, or hanging out with my neighborhood friends. I turned up at this party alone.
While there, I noticed a girl I had never seen before. She didn't attend our school. When a song came on that I liked a lot, I plucked up the courage to ask her to dance. To my relief, she accepted. She was short, 5' 3" tall, with a light complexion and medium brown hair. She had a gentle face, with delicate lips, and brown eyes. She turned out to be the cousin of Alona, one of the girls who attended my school. Her name was Pamela Lyn Jones and she lived in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. We spent the rest of the evening together and before the party ended, I had gotten her phone number.
When I went home, I was on cloud nine. At some point, I called her. I used to feel very uncomfortable calling girls on the phone for the first time. "What if someone else in her family answered?" I would worry. I managed it, somehow and ended up making a date to come see her, one Saturday. Although I had my Junior Drivers License, at the time, I didn't own a car yet and New York State Junior Licenses weren't valid within the five counties of New York City. My Grandmother's sister, my Great Aunt, Ann, who lived in the same household as I did, agreed to drive me to Pam's house. The plan was that she would drop me at Pam's, then go visit one of her friends, who lived in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. When I was ready to go home, she would return and pick me up.
When I arrived at Pam's, on the day, I was informed that she could only spend a brief time with me, as she had made plans to go out. I was confused by this, because I had made plans with her. Why would she make other plans, when she was expecting me? She said that she was used to guys promising to get together, then not showing up, so she made plans, expecting that I might be like them and no-show. Pam's mother seemed thrilled with my red cheeks, much to my embarrassment. After a phone conversation with my Aunt, it turned out that she would be late picking me up. Someone had stolen the battery out of her car, while she was visiting her friend. Such was Bed-Stuy, in those days. Eventually, she came for me and I went home.
Talking to Alona, at school, she said that Pam wasn't used to "nice guys," like me. Alona thought that explained her odd behavior. Not easily put off, I started seeing her. My Aunt wasn't going to be able to drive me all the time, so I started going to see Pam via public transportation. From my house, it took two buses and two subway trains, to get there. It would take between three and four hours, each way. I remember one of our early dates, we went to see "Taxi Driver," at the Tilden Theater, in Brooklyn. After the film, Pam kept imitating the scene where Robert De Niro looks in the mirror and says, "you talkin' to me?" She kept saying this, over and over, then bursting into giggles. I loved her playfulness.
I don't remember when I first kissed her (hey, it was 31 years ago!), but I do remember our most memorable kiss. We had made plans to go see a big concert, at Yankee, or Shea Stadium, I can't remember which, now. A number of groups were on the bill, including the Jacksons. After traveling almost four hours to her house, when I arrived, she informed me that she was not going. The cost of two concert tickets was a lot for me, at 16. Especially given that I didn't have a job. Pam told me she was sick and couldn't go, but urged me to go on my own. I weighed my options, but didn't particularly fancy going on my own. Instead, I decided to spend the afternoon with her, at her house. She played Peter Frampton's album, "Frampton Comes Alive." She gave me some cheesecake to eat and, up till that point, I didn't like cheesecake. I couldn't bring myself to refuse it and ate it. It tasted pretty good and I have eaten cheesecake ever since. Whatever she was sick with, it didn't stop us from kissing. Her lips were gentle and soft, with the bottom lip cushiony and wet. They slightly clinged to mine as we separated. It was near to the beginning of July and people were starting to light off fireworks. I remember sitting on the couch with her, kissing her, that afternoon, and hearing the sound of fireworks exploding in the background. That memory has stuck with me ever since. I don't think I will ever forget it, unless I get Alzheimer's. It turned out that it was a good thing we didn't go to the concert as there was a riot there and many people were injured. When her parents got home, her father almost blew his stack. He didn't like the idea of me and her being alone, in the house, especially in her room. I think he was suspicious that we were shagging, but we hadn't been. He made some rule that, henceforth, we were only allowed in the living room, when no one else was home. Her mother just cooed something about my rosy red cheeks.
I soon realized that I was in love with Pam. She was the first girl I can say I was truly in love with. I asked her to be my date to my Senior Prom. The Prom was a big deal in a teenager's social life, in America. My Grandmother bought me a new, three piece suit, especially for the Prom. My mother had gotten a new car the year before. I asked my mother if I could borrow her car to drive to the Prom. She refused my request, saying I could drive my Grandmother's car. My grand's car was old, dented, and smelly. I didn't want to pick up my date on such a special night, in that. My Aunt came to my rescue and said I could use her car. It was newer and cleaner than my Grandmother's, but not as nice as my mother's. It would have to do, though.
When I arrived at Pam's, she wasn't ready. I waited for her for what seemed like ages. I had bought her a corsage, as was tradition. Eventually, she was ready. She looked lovely. She told me she had almost decided not to go, because she was arguing with her mother. How not going would get back at her mother, I never figured out. To me, it would just have hurt me. We arrived fashionably late. The Prom was held at the Inwood Country Club, in the Five Towns area of Nassau County, where the school was located. We ate a formal dinner and hit the dance floor. Later in the evening, we ended up sitting in the car, making out. We got into some pretty heavy "petting." Pam asked me if I wanted to have "intercourse." Of course I did. She said she did too, but she wanted us both to have "protection," first. I had a condom, but she wanted to be on the pill to, or something, so we went no further.
In the autumn, I went away to start school at Syracuse University. Pam was a year behind me in school, so she was starting her Senior year at Tilden High School, in Brooklyn. I didn't yet own a car and Syracuse was over 200 miles away from Brooklyn. I wrote her love letters and even wrote a poem for her. Pam invited me to go to Thanksgiving dinner with her family. This was a big deal, for me. Up till then, I had never not had Thanksgiving dinner with my family. I would either go with my Aunt and Grandmother, to her other sister's, house, or we would have dinner at our house. Now, I was being invited to spend this ultimate family holiday with a different family. I was in love, so I accepted. I went to Pam's house, in Brooklyn and from there, her father drove us, along with her mother, to her grandparent's, in the Bronx. I felt honored to be included in their family gathering and enjoyed the evening.
During a visit home, from university, Pam and I made plans to go see a concert, with her cousin, Alona, plus Renata, and Vivian, all of whom had been classmates of mine, at Woodmere Academy. We went to see Parliament/Funkadelic, along with Bootsy's Rubber Band, at the Nassau Coliseum and I drove. At first, one would think that being the only guy out with four women would be heavenly. Things aren't always that simple. Vivian knew some members of one of the bands and managed to shout to them at the side of the stage. They told her which hotel the bands were staying at and got us invited to go there, after the concert. We ended up at the bar of a moderate sized hotel, near the Coliseum. The bar was fairly quiet and the band and friends sort of took over the place. After a while, I observed Pam talking with one of the band members. Without saying anything to me, she went upstairs with him and stayed for ages. I was seething inside and assumed they were having sex. What was particularly galling was that I still hadn't had sex with her, myself. I sat at the table with the other girls, for what seemed like an extremely long time. I think the others were a bit embarrassed about the situation. Eventually, Pam came down again, by herself. She offered no explanation for where she'd been, or what she'd been doing. I drove everyone home and we didn't speak much, the rest of the night.
In the spring of 1977, about one year on from when I first met her,Pam broke up with me. I never did get to have sex with her. In the fall of 77, she started at the University of Pittsburgh. Years later, I ran into Alona at a high school reunion. I heard that Pam had gotten married and divorced, since I had seen her. Supposedly, she was back in New York. I went by her old family home and rang the bell. Her father answered the door, but he didn't remember me. I explained that I was an old boyfriend and asked him to tell her that I had asked about her. I never heard from her, after that and don't even know if he passed on my message. I am convinced that if her mother had answered, she would have remember me and my red cheeks. A number of years later, in the 1990s, I tried going by the house again. The person who answered this time said the Jones family had moved away. She didn't have a forwarding address. Next year will be thirty years since I have seen Pam. I called her Pam 1, years later, to differentiate her from subsequent Pams I have met. She was the first Pam in my life. I have never forgotten the girl who got me to eat cheesecake, who was my Prom date, and who caused me to hear fireworks, when I kissed her. The girl who helped me to discover love, for the first time.


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