Ever remember something from your past and say, “What was I thinking?” Unfortunately, I have many. One event that comes to mind happened on a Friday night in the spring of 1983.
Mom had just dropped me off behind the Cinema (In the pre-driving days, to retain your cool-kid status, you could never allow anyone to witness your parents dropping you off at the show. Parents had explicit instructions: drive around back, slow down enough for the kid to jump out, then quickly drive away. Don’t look back, no honking, and certainly no shouting, “I’ll be back in two hours”).
Mom drove fast, so luckily, with my kung fu training, I could maintain my balance whenever I sprang from the speeding car.
Despite the heat that evening, I strutted through the parking lot feeling very cool as the sound of Sammy Hagar’s “Your Love is Driving Me Crazy” blasted from opened-car windows. I waved to some friends then looped around the tan bricked-building.
My pulse quickening with each step, I passed the marquee, squeezed through the crowd, and—BAM—there she was, standing with a group of her friends, smiling at me.
My heart leapt to my throat.
Her name was Lola, the love of my eighth-grade year. She looked fantastic. Big hair, Flash Dance clothes, Madonna wristbands—wow!
Said hi to her, her friends, and then made my move for the big hug.
The timing was perfect. The moment we embraced, a car drove by playing “Hard to say I’m sorry” by Chicago, the ultimate love song of junior high.
Of course, thinking about it now, it was also the biggest break-up song.
A foreshadow of the evening.
“So, what are we seeing,” Lola asked. (In the city of Marshall, it never mattered what was showing. Friday night meant show night. However, on this night, the movie I’d been waiting for had arrived.
“Lone Wolf McQuade,” I said, barely able to contain my excitement.
“OK,” Lola said. “Who’s in it?”
I winced in pain and suddenly felt short of breath. Who’s Chuck Norris!
To say that I was a mere Chuck fan would be a colossal understatement.
Up to Lone Wolf, I’d seen every Norris film. I knew every title, every character, every line of dialogue; I could even mimic every fight scene.
I know. You’re thinking, sad-case-of-no-life, right?
Wrong. You’d be amazed at how many people I’ve helped over the years who needed some quick Chuck trivia.
Staring into to Lola’s stunning blue eyes, I regained my composure, smiled, and said, “You’ll like it.”
We bought the tickets, went inside, grabbed Cokes and popcorn, and found our seats. The theater was packed. I was smiling ear-to-ear. I was with the perfect girl about to watch the perfect movie.
The lights dimmed. The previews rolled.
I held her hand.
Foreigner’s, “Waiting for a girl like you,” played in my head.
The movie began.
Western music played while a grey wolf sprinted across a dusty prairie. Chuck’s name flashed on the screen.
I held my breath, counted to three, then eased my arm around Lola’s shoulders. She scooted closer. I could feel her heartbeat against my side. She smelled wonderful. I think she called the scent, Chloe.
Working up the nerve to kiss her, I moved closer, quickly chewing up my breath mint. The armrest bit into my ribs. You can do this, Jones.
My heart was racing. I pivoted in my seat when—what the heck!
There were like fifty bad guys shooting at Chuck.
With my eyes riveted on the screen, I snatched my arm from around her shoulders and gripped the seat in front of me. Come on, Chuck!
Chuck didn’t let me down.
He kicked a bad guys’s teeth out then blasted everyone else with a pair of Mac 10 submachine guns. Pure awesomeness!
Lola fidgeted in her seat.
Oh yeah, I’m on a date.
I settled back in my seat, smiled at her and whispered, “Sorry.”
After moments of awkwardness, I slid my arm around her again. I’d wait a while before I attempted another kiss.
As the movie played on, we moved closer together, almost cheek-to-cheek. We even shared a Coke, which I took as a sign that she’d forgiven me.
Time for the Big Move.
As fast as I could throw a snap-kick, I kissed Lola on the lips.
Wow! Her lips were soft and warm and they had the combination taste of watermelon lip-gloss, salty butter, and Coca Cola. A taste bud explosion. I definitely had to do that again. But this time . . . I was going for the French kiss.
Not to appear too eager, I decided to wait five minutes. I glanced at my Casio digital watch. The countdown had begun.
Minute four and a half, my heart was in my throat. My nervous system was near shutdown. I was tingling all over. Thirty seconds more was an eternity.
I closed my eyes and counted.
Twenty … Nineteen.
My ears roared from my rushing pulse. I’d never been so nervous.
Lola’s hand was on my thigh. (Actually, not. Her arm slipped off the armrest and her pinky-finger grazed my leg). I actually saw fireworks.
Ten … Nine.
I opened my eyes, turned toward her, but first, glanced at the screen.
Bad guys had buried Chuck.
But not just bury him. They buried him in his truck. I mean, who escapes that?
Freakin’ Chuck Norris, that’s who!
He drove his truck right out of that hole.
I was on my feet. “Go Chuck!”
Chuck killed everybody, saved the cops, then raced to find David Carradine, the main antagonist of the movie.
Still standing, I reached blindly behind me, plucked the Coke from Lola’s hands, and gulped it down. I was parched. The tension was overwhelming.
Finally, Carradine, showed up, faced Chuck. Oh yeah, it was on!
Carradine swung. Chuck ducked. I ducked.
Carradine, kicked. Chuck blocked and countered. I blocked and countered.
I was in the zone, one with Chuck.
Three minutes later, Chuck killed Carradine then blew up his house. The perfect movie ending.
The credits rolled. The lights came up. I was standing in a puddle of sweat.
I turned, reached for the Coke again. No one was there.
Lola was gone. Actually, the entire row was empty. An elderly couple in front of me (they were probably pushing thirty) asked if I was OK.
Outside, Lola was nowhere in sight.
Mom drove up. She had the windows down. Lynyrd Skynyrd boomed from the speakers. Mom was cool like that.
“Hey!” I hear behind me.
I turned, hoping it was Lola.
It was her friend. She handed me a note. It was folded into fours with smudged fingerprints on it, remnants of buttered popcorn.
I opened it. Read it standing next to the car.
Thanks for the popcorn and Coke. Not the movie!
I want to break up.
Awe man! I crumpled the note. How could she not like the movie?
Fortunately, years later, Lola forgave me. We even laughed about it. But I’d bet, to this day, she still hates the movie.