Back then there were no such things as ten penny mix-ups! So how was a young man to treat his young lady? A sherbet dip.
Dawn used to call on me sharp, every morning so that we could walk to school together; she would rattle the gate, only just popping her head through and she knew I’d be waiting expectantly – then we’d meander, holding hands as far as we dared before reaching school. She was a skinny little thing with the prettiest of faces, and a smile, not perfect but with little, quirky characteristics that appealed to my not-yet-grasped concept of love… Her hands were tiny, even in my small hands and she carried the enrapturing scent of soapy cleanliness.
If we weren’t holding hands then we’d be enthusiastically demolishing our sherbet treats! Not much of a breakfast but then we’d already have had our muesli… The walk to school wasn’t a long one but the thought of a little kiss at the end held more promise than the sweetest of dreams; innocent, and sweet – probably sherbet residue. A kiss that would be well thought-out and riddled with dizzy anticipation, before we parted and flew, a swift scamper away to our respective groups of friends, tummy jumping and full of the red-faced shyness that you’ve all felt at some point…
For weeks, we had dancing lessons in preparation for the school Christmas dance – the whole school. And it was because of our throwing together by teachers pairing-off kids that we developed our relationship. Depending on who you’d been partnered with gave great ammunition for either envy or opportunity to humiliate! Well, some of us weren’t exactly a catch and admittedly I’ve never been an oil painting – much the same as a few others. But after so many lessons we all seemed to be settled with a ‘usual’ partner. Even poor Skunk!
Lessons would begin immediately after assembly in the hall – before the Lord’s Prayer, we’d have more often than not sung, Lord of the Dance – and rehashed the words as we sung, “I am the Lord of the damp settee…!” You know what I mean…
Dance day came and I hovered around the window, expecting the gate to rattle and that little angelic face to appear…it didn’t. Disappointed I made for the street and made off for school – no sherbet today. Once at school it was clear that Dawn wasn’t coming – perhaps a cold or a poorly tummy had kept her away. Nevertheless, assembly came and went and the day commenced. The Christmas dance would be in the afternoon and after a session of thanks and praise, in the hall, we all enjoyed party games and food! Still disappointed and not really thinking about who I’d dance with, that decision was made for me. There were a few absences that day – it being the last day before the Christmas holiday, it wasn’t unusual; I mean all that usually happened was that we kids took in a toy for the morning and basically school was no more a seat of learning but an extended indoor playground – we really only had one thought and that was to get rid of the day and look forward to Christmas.
Come the dance, I hopped and strode, leapt and swung – with Skunk!
Although aromatically challenged, Skunk was good!