Today, a third episode of A Summer to Be Remembered by Bob Mitchell: My First Passionate Kiss. Enjoy your day, Yareah friends. Art is Everywhere!
Episode 1 Episode 2
Through a fellow bellhop, Larry Flood, I met Jim DeHaven—high school buddies from Ocean Grove. I’d never met anyone like Jim, the finest pianist I had ever encountered up to this point in my life. He sang like a pro, too. We immediately became fast friends. He taught me a number of operatic tenor-baritone duets; he was the first person to recognize my voice as tenor. Jim was an accomplished baritone, far more so than I could imagine of anyone our age. He had a polished sound like Mr. Worthington’s. Unlike mine, Jim’s voice had a baritone sound!
To coach me he would come to the hotel, or I to his house, and we would sing, and then talk about the future. Some nights we’d join Larry and go bar-hopping with fake IDs. Larry got one for me somehow. After a night of drinking, we three, or just Jim and I would stumble out to the boardwalk and sing ourselves hoarse to the pounding surf.
We passed the summer that way: drinking; chasing girls; Jim giving impromptu concerts at the hotel; taking voice lessons with the soprano soloist at the Auditorium; dating the lovely misses staying or working at the hotel; and more drinking and singing our heads off. I was pretty good-looking and still in reasonably good shape from all the running and biking I did in high school.
For the first time in my life I was on my own and could do what I liked—within the strictures of the law, my bellhop job, my Christian upbringing, and common sense, of course. I felt as if I were in one of Elvis’ beach party movies. My afternoons off were spent on the beach flirting with waitresses from the hotel—or, for a week or so, one exquisitely lovely hotel guest who was there for the week with her grandmother.
We met on the elevator, which was one of my jobs. It was an old elevator requiring an operator. I loved this job because it was easier than lugging heavy baggage, and I got to meet people. (Downside: no tips.) Anyway, the attraction between us was immediate. The same afternoon on her way to the beach, she stopped to talk (flirt) with me. I could see the concern in her grandmother’s eyes. She knew she had her hands full with this granddaughter! I admit, I was smitten and flirted right back in my own bumbling way. I wonder if my naivety and uncertainty around girls heightened her attraction to me.
After she came back from the beach I was really glad to see her again. I smiled as she got on. Her smile was nothing less than radiant. We began talking as though we were old friends, picking up from when we last parted. When we got to her floor, she asked if I could take her down again.
“Why?” I asked looking at her quizzically.
“I just want to talk to you some more,” she said, cocking her head to one side and looking up at me with those sparkling blue eyes.
Oh… Oh! Okay. I closed the door and cranked the lever to “Down.” When we got to the first floor she remained in the car. Others got on. She smiled coyly at me and moved to the back to make room. The party got off on the second floor. Hers was the fourth.
She moved closer as she asked me, “So tell me about yourself, Bob.”
I told her about my singing aspirations and that I was even taking lessons this summer.
“Can I come to a lesson?”
We were almost to the fourth floor. I stopped the elevator just shy of it. She smiled as she cocked her head to one side, taking a step toward me, “Why did you stop the elevator?” touching my shoulder with her finger.
“Well, ah, ah, well, if you want to come to a lesson I’ll have to ask…” I was going to say “my teacher,” but realized that would be so very un-cool, so I blurted over myself, “I’ll have to explain to you how to get there.” By this time she was standing so close we were touching.
“Where are your lessons?” again with those inquiring blues.
I blushed and turned away as if to check on the elevator. I felt warm all over. “At the Methodist Church,” I said over my shoulder. “Know where it is?” She shook her head demurely. “Then I’ll have to explain.”
Suddenly the elevator buzzer crashed in on our little tête-a-tête. I pushed the lever to complete the trip to her floor. As she got off I asked her to wait while I delivered the other passengers.
Frankly I did not expect her to, but she did. She not only waited, but she came to my lesson the next day. We met down stairs and walked to the church together. Much to my surprise she took my hand. No girl had ever done that before. At first I blushed, but when I looked into her smiling eyes, I was captivated, and gladder than glad to be holding her warm, soft hand. When we got to the church, Bette Benjamin, the soprano soloist at the Great Auditorium and my summer teacher, wasn’t there. For a moment we stood looking into the room with the piano where my lessons took place. Beth was looking at the piano and I, at her. On a sudden impulse I stepped behind her, lifting her light brown tresses off her neck, and bent down and kissed her soft neck. Without a word, in one motion she turned around facing me, threw her arms around my neck and pulled me into my first passionate kiss.