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If you’re not over 60, this story will make no sense at all to you.
I admit it: I’m a geezer. But it wasn’t always this way. There was a time when I was young, a time when I could do anything. A long time ago, so long ago that I have almost forgotten what it was like. Almost.
When I was a little kid, my friends and I would get involved in all sorts of escapades. We’d roam the streets, looking for excitement. When the water department tore up the streets to put in a new storm drain, they left the huge (to young eyes) concrete pipes in the street, awaiting installation. We’d climb in them, slap the sides and marvel at the echoes, use them for forts, and do what all kids with an ounce of imagination did. And when the pipes were finally installed and the roads were paved over again, we found that we could get into the system by climbing down through the drains in the street. The bars blocking the drains were just far enough apart for a small, really stupid kid to wiggle past. We’d climb down the ladder and, giggling the whole way, walk down the pipes, exploring. Every now and then, we’d hear a noise that we were convinced was someone flushing a toilet. We’d laugh, of course, not knowing that the storm drains drained only the roads and had nothing to do with the sewer system. In our exploration, we discovered that the storm drain lead out to a concrete bed by the airport. We’d climb out and look at the vista that was the airport. We’d run around, chasing rabbits and breaking the little lights that showed where the landing strips and connecting roads were. Once, we used some wire to tie a tumbleweed to a tree, running the wire across the road that lead to a radar station, giggling at the thought of some driver being surprised when he drove past the tumbleweed, only to see it mysteriously slam into the side of his car.
In short, we were assholes.
Eventually, we grew up a little, but not much. When we got to junior high school, as it was called back then, we’d walk to school early in the morning and talk about things. It seemed like the right age to talk about sex, so that’s what we did most of the time.
“I saw someone doing a 69,” Billy said.
“A 69?” I asked.
“Yeah, a 69,” he said. “You know what this is, right?”
“Of course I do,” I said, rolling my eyes. I was pretty sure he didn’t believe me, but he didn’t press the point. I’m guessing he didn’t know either.
We talked about all sorts of things, trying to figure out the mystery. The shop classes were where most of the talk happened, perhaps because of the type of kid who took shop classes. Radio was the kid who brought in The Book. I got only a quick look and saw a picture of a woman on her knees, and a guy with a hard on standing in front of her. Radio said it was a blow job. I didn’t see how blowing on a guy’s dick from that distance would do much, but I accepted his word on it. He was Radio, after all, and knew stuff.
Once we had an assembly where the fire department showed us the dangers of pipe bombs. The assembly was successful, since nothing could induce a kid more to build one than to see what they could do. While we were watching the fireman put a single drop of gasoline into a pipe with a spark plug in it and fire off the plug (with a really great explosion), I was getting annoyed because someone was putting a foot on the back of my chair. Finally I got fed up enough to push on the foot. I reached back and pushed the foot off my chair. I felt stockings. This was junior high school, we were about twelve years old, and I felt stockings. I turned around to look at the girl who was rude enough to put a foot on my chair and the prettiest girl I had ever seen said, “Oh, you’re cute.” That was a very effective defense.
I’d have to say I didn’t learn much of any use by the time I got to high school. There were girls around, but I was pretty shy and really dense. I remember one girl talking to me in class one day, saying things that I figured out were flirtatious. The problem was, I didn’t figure it out for several years. She was a cheerleader, really smart (straight A’s, I think), and interested in me. She was so smart, in fact, that she figured out I wasn’t interested in her, so she left me alone. She was wrong, but I couldn’t explain to her that I was socially awkward and would have no idea what to do on a date. I still think about her sometimes, wondering about the path I chose, even if the choice wasn’t entirely mine.
One summer, I took art and auto shop in summer school. Both were a lot of fun. Auto shop was really cool because you got to tinker with engines and stuff. Most of the kids taking auto shop were the sort who couldn’t make it academically but were good with their hands. I found out later that many of them could make pretty good livings, as long as they were honest and did their best to do a good job. Of course, most of them weren’t that honest and didn’t have that much integrity.
Art class was different. The kids in that class were brighter and more inventive. casino oyna One of the kids was a beautiful girl I had trouble looking at, let alone talking to. But eventually I managed to talk to her, at least a little bit. I walked her out to her car one day, after class. She drove off in a Lincoln Continental, her father’s car. Her father was a surgeon and they lived in a very expensive part of town. Later in the school year, I discovered her locker was right outside my calculus class. Sometimes I would wait for her, holding out until the last moment, hoping she would show up. Once or twice, she did and I would say hi. I wanted to take her to the movies, but I couldn’t work up the nerve. I think about her, too, sometimes, wondering again about the path I took.
In junior high school, when I took physics, the teacher showed me a linear accelerator that one of his students made. It was a plastic tube with bands of metal foil along it. The teacher said the student would run hydrogen through the tube to cut down on air resistance, then apply an alternating voltage on the bands to accelerate particles down the tube. I don’t know if it really worked, but it stimulated my interest, so I started reading up on it. It was pretty interesting to me. That was my dive into the sciences. When I got to high school, I discovered one year that there were kids taking a chemistry class after school. I thought it was interesting, so I joined. The teacher was one of those cool guys who hadn’t gotten disillusioned yet. We learned all sorts of advanced things and it was fun. It was only after a couple of months that I found out the rest of the kids were taking the class because they wanted to compete with other kids in some sort of chemistry competition. I was taking the class because it was fun, but I was the only one. I took the test at the end of the class and did okay, but I was disappointed. The teacher pointed out that I scored in the top 20% of the kids who took the test and the kids who took the test were probably the top 10% of all the kids in school. I felt better after he explained that.
In my last year of high school, we were taking all sorts of tests and I had no idea what they were for. I did the best I could, but they all seemed pointless to me. One test, I found out later, was for placement in the local university. I did pretty well on it, as did my best friend and a girl who was pretty smart. The three of us were given an opportunity to go to the university and take classes there, leaving high school early when we needed to. We decided getting out of school early on some days was a great deal, so we took it. We all decided to take a class on mathematical logic in the philosophy department. A funny old man was teaching logic to the three of us and about two hundred other kids. I and my friends got A’s in the class and maybe learned a few things. I found out many years later that the funny old man who was teaching the class was a world-famous logician. Pearls before swine.
When we were seniors in high school, we had to write something for the yearbook. Each of us had to write about our plans, in twenty five words or less. By the end of my free education, I had clearly gotten interested in the sciences, but I really enjoyed the shop classes I took. For the yearbook, I explained that my plan was to become a physicist or an auto mechanic. I liked them both. I ended up becoming a physicist, but I think about that sometimes and wonder what would have happened if I had chosen differently.
Since I was already taking classes at the university, I was told I could just keep going there, if I wanted. I said “sure” and never bothered taking the SAT or applying to any colleges. I avoided what most others found to be an excruciating experience. Just luck, of course, but I was grateful, once I figured out how lucky I was.
In college, I continued my shy ways and didn’t date much. I was working while going to school, holding down a job that was almost full time. That was a bad idea, but I didn’t realize it at the time. I didn’t have many extra hours for girls, even if I wanted to explore them. I did, sort of, but was too afraid to branch out. I think about that sometimes and wonder what I missed. But you never miss what you didn’t have to begin with, so I guess it all worked out.
Eventually, the real world descended. I got a job doing engineering work and had a lot of fun. They were paying me to play with cool electronic equipment; I would have done it for free. The pressure let up a bit and I found that I had time to do other things for a change. I decided to take a figure skating class; I have no idea why this appealed to me, but it did. In the class, I was one of two boys; this was clearly a girl sort of thing to do. I did okay in the class and got to talk to a few of the girls. One was a pretty good skater. She had a nice figure, even if she was a bit short. She had been married and had a young son. She mentioned once that her ex had a business where he sold what was essentially a glorified oscilloscope. I was stunned slot oyna she knew what an oscilloscope was. I was interested in her, but not sure about the kid. I didn’t know if I wanted kids at that point and was pretty sure I didn’t want someone else’s kid. Here I was, sizing up the marriage potential and I hadn’t even taken her out on a date. In fact, I never did. I saw her in the figure skating class, talking to someone she later told me was “just a friend,” and decided I couldn’t take the competition. About a month after the skating class ended, she dropped by my office and asked why I hadn’t called. I lied and told her I had been really busy. I think about her sometimes and wonder how things would have been different.
After a while, though, I decided maybe it was time to get serious about dating and maybe find someone I could share my life with. This was before the Internet let people discover the dregs of society on their own, so I took advantage of the ads in a magazine. I paid some small sum to put out an ad with a couple of lines describing me to a T and waited for responses. I was competing with only a couple of hundred other people looking for mates, so I figured it should go well. I went out with a few of the women who answered the ad, but it seemed that they were desperate or undesirable, sometimes both. It was really kind of sad for everyone involved. I never really hooked up with anyone and nobody got laid. Maybe just as well.
At my work, we were paired up with people, two to an office. I had some officemates I liked, and some I only tolerated. Nobody was horrible, though. One officemate was a really smart guy and we got along very well. Dan knew a lot of things and got frustrated when others weren’t smart enough to follow what he was saying. I knew exactly how he felt. Eventually, he invited me over to his house to see his place and meet his wife. She was slightly plump but had a wicked wit; I really liked her. Dan and I would shoot pool at his house and laugh about the boneheads we worked with. It was a good time, until I got the phone call.
Dan had left the company to become a consultant, so I kind of lost touch with him. Cindy, his wife, called me one day at the office and told me Dan was dead; he had committed suicide. That shocked me, but when I thought about it, it made sense. Dan was too smart for his own good and found the rest of the world exhaustingly dull. Imagine living in a world where everyone had an IQ of 60; that was the world Dan lived in. So, while Cindy was at one of her bridge competitions, Dan took a shotgun, sat down, leaned his mouth over the barrel, and pulled the trigger. He left a note to Cindy telling her how much he loved her and urged her not to go into the garage.
I went to Dan’s funeral and to the wake. Everyone was moping around, as you’d expect, but it didn’t make sense to me. I knew Dan was gone, and I was sorry about that, but he was already gone from my life anyway, since he had left the company. I was lucky to know him as long as I did. I wish I had had more time with him, but various decisions conspired to prevent that. I was still lucky to get what I got, though. Everyone was so depressed and depressing that I decided funerals weren’t my thing and I never went to another one, even when my parents died. People thought that was pretty strange, but I never told them how ghoulish I thought they were, looking at a dead body and stuffing themselves with food afterwards.
Cindy turned to me after Dan died. I wasn’t smart enough to know you should avoid newly-widowed women. An old guy explained it to me much later. Cindy was looking for a replacement for Dan and I fit the bill. Actually, I think pretty much any guy would have fit the bill. We tried having sex once, but I just wasn’t into her. It was a disaster and we agreed it was best if we not continue.
One of my officemates, Gail, was a very nice girl from the east coast. She was pretty, although I wasn’t interested in her, and we got along well. I took to reading the Durants’ The Story of Civilization and would regale her each morning with what I had learned the previous night. She feigned interest very well. I was reading about the Reformation, so there was all sorts of intrigue to tell her about. I wasn’t really a history buff, but I liked a good story as well as the next guy. She seemed to like it, too.
At one point, when we were having lunch together, she asked me if I was interested in dating. I fumbled the issue, blurting out some nonsense about not fully understanding my feelings, but she figured out what I was saying and found someone else. We were still friends, though, and she still listened to me talk about what was going on in my life. I mentioned to her that I had season tickets to the Philharmonic and had taken some women there, but not for a while.
“Maggie would love to go to some concerts,” Gail said. Maggie was one of her gym friends and Gail had mentioned her several times.
I sighed. “I guess maybe I should give it a try. I’m tired of going alone. Why don’t canlı casino siteleri you have her call me?” I gave Gail my home phone number and forgot about it. I wasn’t interested enough to call Maggie myself, but if she took the initiative, I would at least entertain the notion.
Weeks went by and I never got a call. That was fine by me. I had work to do and I didn’t do well with the ladies, so it was stress I didn’t need.
“Hasn’t Maggie called yet?” asked Gail.
“Nope,” I answered. “I know the phone works because I get calls all the time, but it’s from these damn telemarketers; they hang up when they get the machine.” I always waited for the person to say something before I answered the phone; there’s no point in picking up the phone just to say you’re not interested and have some dolt on the other end try to convince you your life isn’t complete without new aluminum siding.
One evening, while I was halfway through a book on space warfare, the phone rang. This in itself was not unusual, but this time someone left a message.
“Hi,” the voice said, “My name is Maggie and…”
I picked up right away. “Hello,” I said, “this is Sam. I’m here. How are you?”
“Fine,” Maggie said. “I’m surprised I caught you. You never seem to be home. I’ve called several times.”
Oh. “Hmm, well, I don’t answer my phone until I know who’s calling. I get a lot of telemarketers and it’s easier to just ignore the calls,” I said. “Sorry I didn’t pick up sooner.”
“That’s okay,” she said. “It’s just that I hate answering machines. I can never figure out what to say, so I’ve been hanging up when the machine comes on.”
“I can see how that wouldn’t work well with my technique for avoiding telemarketers.” I could hear her smile.
We chatted for a while, about Gail, our common friend, and about our jobs. I found out she works as a marketing consultant and she found out I was an engineer. I decided to tell her a joke.
“This guy writes to an advice column and says he’s met a really nice girl but is not sure what he should say about his family. His younger brother works for Microsoft. His parents are both in jail for a Ponzi scheme they ran, bilking people for millions of dollars. His older brother is an alcoholic who beats his wife. His sister is running drugs for a cartel in Columbia. The guy was worried about how his new girlfriend would respond to his family and was asking the columnist if he should tell her about the brother who works for Microsoft.” I waited for the laughter.
She gave me a polite laugh and said, “Engineers aren’t real good with jokes, are they?”
I laughed. “No, they suck at telling jokes. In fact, the only time I’m funny is when I’m being serious. I wanted you to know what you were in for. So, knowing what you know now, should we go out?”
“Yeah,” she said, “I think I can handle you. There’s a party this weekend. A friend at work is throwing it. Want to come?”
“Sounds great,” I said. “That way, I won’t know anyone who’s there, including you. How about if I pick you up for dinner instead. 7:30 okay?”
“Sure,” she said. “I look forward to it.” She gave me her address and phone number, then said good bye.
I have to admit I was nervous, but it was just dinner, so how bad could it be? I made reservations at one of the best restaurants in town and waited for the day to come.
The evening of the date, I drove up to her house and made sure I was exactly on time. I was sure that’s what she would expect from me. I waited until my watch said 7:30, then I knocked on the door.
What opened the door was a vision, to say the least. A trim figure, black hair that curled at the shoulders, and lips an inviting red that said “kiss me.” I didn’t, not right away, but I wanted to.
“Come on in,” Maggie said. “Say hello to my parents.”
What? I haven’t even taken this woman out to dinner and she wants me to meet her parents? I walked in anyway and said hello. I glanced down at my watch and said, “We need to get going. With traffic, we’ll just make it.” She nodded, said good bye to her parents, I mumbled something about it being nice to meet them, then we climbed into the car and headed off.
“This is a pretty good restaurant,” I said, “if you like good food.”
“Good food is on the list of things I like,” she said with a smile. “What kind?”
“Italian,” I said. “My family’s Italian, so I’m kind of used to it. I hope that’s okay.”
“Sounds great,” she said. Then she paused. “This isn’t one of those Mafia places, is it?”
“No,” I smiled, “my uncle sold that place, so we go to this other restaurant now. It’s clean. As far as I know.” She smiled back at me.
We chatted along the way, mostly about nothing, but we started talking about people we had been out with before. This was a bad idea. She mentioned this one guy, a Frenchman, who wanted anal sex. Somehow, this didn’t seem like a reasonable topic for a first date. In any case, she explained that she wasn’t interested in that sort of thing. Truth in advertising, I guess. I started blabbing about how if there was something I was doing that she didn’t like, she could just tell me so and I’d stop. I’m not one to push people around, in spite of what others think of me.
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