Dating was always a challenge for my friends and me back in our teenage years. Our fairly small town did not offer a great deal of variety for such activities.
Some of my high school friends practically lived at the skating rink. They got so good at skating they could do it backwards. They did tricky moves and mastered the art of dancing while rolling. My experience with the sport started when I got skates for Christmas when I was seven. It was a sidewalk activity and, in my neighborhood, we had to travel a bit to find hard surfaces. Consequently, I never got really good at skating. I mean, I could stay vertical, but I was no speed demon, nor could I skate backwards. I only went to the skating rink where my gifted friends hung out on occasion. I just skated around and around, nothing fancy, while these rolling wonders showed off and got all the girls for the skate dances.
Another activity in my town I never got too good at was miniature golf. I thought of the course as a symbol for life. You have a starting point and you must skillfully overcome obstacles to succeed. Some of the obstacles were fun, like the wrapped-around truck tire. But some were perplexing, like the elusive clown’s mouth. Sometimes that demonic dude would swallow your golf ball and sometimes he would puke it right back at you. Like life, you know. You think you are making progress and then you run into some clown who makes it difficult for you.
The best place to take a date during the summer, though, was the watermelon shed. It was adjacent to the miniature golf course and the mom and pop operation offered generous slices of ice-cold watermelon for a quarter. You could fill yourself and your date up on this seasonal delicacy for a buck.
The movies were another matter. One had to be very careful as to the content of these entertainment venues. If it was a war movie, and there were a lot of those when I was in high school, my date would hate it. If it was a romantic film, I would hate it. The best bet was comedy. Movies involving Ma and Pa Kettle, or Abbot and Costello were a hoot and contained discussable subject matter. “Did you like it when Pa got confused about the modern appliances?” Or, “How about when Lou Costello controlled Frankenstein by putting his tie over his nose?”
The most fun I had, though, was when our church youth leaders took our “Young People Department” down to the river and built a fire for a wiener and marshmallow roast. These leaders were savvy enough to let folks pair off and spend time on the edges of the firelight. Life on the edge has been the modus operandi for many ever since.