i was at rutgers in the mid-sixties and used to go to belmar seventh avenue beach. their boardwalk had these wonderful white buildings that looked liked either a ship had docked or a ufo had landed. they were aseptic bathrooms? little round port hole windows aerated the men’s and women’s rooms. the windows were always open. sometimes the doors too. i discovered during the summer of my general discontent (viet nam & racism was around) that those pure white bathrooms on the boardwalk at belmar made for perfect changing rooms. no bath houses or locker rooms( for me) that charged money which i didn’t have.
one summer saturday night i had a blind date with a girl from deal. my mother said deal township meant the girl’s father probably had money. that’s good my mother said. she also said falling in love with a rich girl was just as easy as poor. she also preached sun burns were healthy and sent me to the grocery store twice a week for a half pound of breakstone’s butter. that was healthy too. i didn’t care about the girl lecture she was giving me. i could never tell her my beliefs even back then, that we’re all just people. differences didn’t matter. she’d never understand. i rushed out of my newark house that morning and met my weequahic and rutgers friends on seventh avenue beach. i baked in the sun all day wanting to look like actor victor mature for my blind date. at 6pm i changed in the white boardwalk bathroom for a 7pm date. a minor problem. i rushed that morning so furiously that i wasn’t paying attention grabbing a shoe and a sneaker; fortunately one right and left. i looked in the boardwalk bathroom mirror. i was dark like victor. belmar mirrors never had grafitti. i always wanted to create but i was a good boy. all i had to put on my feet was a right sneaker and a left shoe and i was going to deal to a fancy house and girl.
i prayed on the way that the parents were out for dinner. i wasn’t in the mood or correct feet attire to meet the parents. there was a shiny black cadillac in the driveway; a bad portentous omen. the father with white hair and moustache and smoking jacket greeted me at the door. i noticed his eyes immediately focused on my feet. i was silent. he invited me into the study; a bad place to be with a sneaker and a shoe on. first question he asked me. “what do your parents do young man?” i replied, “my father is a shoe salesman in elizabeth.” i actually thought it was funny, coincidental. he didn’t. “and what are you studying.” i felt like embellishing and misrepresenting. “i’m in pre-med at rutgers.” it was really pre-pharmacy but what’s the difference as otter said. “and where are you going tonight.” “oh, to see this new movie, ‘sound of music’.” “just be back by midnight. good night young man.” the father must’ve intercepted her on the circular staircase and warned her about my feet and to be aloof. she was a pretty girl (first impression) but beauty is only surface stuff. when captain von trapp (played by christopher plummer. i met his daughter, amanda, 15 years ago at a banquet. her first impression of me was that i looked like a smoker and she asked me for a cigarette. i started to preach to her. she walked away) was singing ‘edelweiss’ near the end of the movie, i had an epiphany. one of my first. i had been victimized by the age old bugaboo (thanks mr nixon) of first impressions. the father looked at my feet and thought i was a street urchin, not worthy of his daughter. not worthy of sitting in his study. and i thought ‘the sound of music’ would’ve been enough sentiment for a second date. she said, “thanks for a nice night, but please don’t call me. it’s my father.” a few years later she took her own life.
that summer i had two more jersey shore blind dates. one from oakhurst. and another from deal reluctantly. i took them both to see ‘sound of music.’ they were both one night stands. my second impression now, decades later: the movie didn’t work for me. there was a recent re-union of the cast of ‘sound of music.’ julie andrews is now sixty-nine. all the von trapp movie kids are grown-up. so am i. i’m so grown up, i’m a blogger now. next week a little story about a jersey shore mayor who’s responsible for 10 blocks by 20 blocks and a few jettys and who taught me another chilly lesson about life.
if you’ve got 65 seconds please check book trailer @ youtube