When I was in my late teens, I had a major crush on a young man in my church. I lived with his parents when I was nineteen. They had good–looking sons, but I considered Ernie to be drop dead gorgeous. My feelings were shared by a lot of the girls at church. They got stirred up when he walked by, but we thought it was a shame that he wasn't particular about getting dressed up. Maybe he dressed that way so that females would not be too overwhelmed by his fabulous looks. Tall, dark–haired and dimpled, Ernie certainly looked like a potential knight in shining armour, but I prayed and asked the Lord that, if Ernie wasn't the right person for me, he would never ask me for a date. And he never did.
I was amused when I heard a story of how a young girl who was new to the church was alarmed when she saw a middle–aged woman approach Ernie during the part of the service where we all greeted each other. People often hugged, but it was always men to men as brothers, and women to women as sisters. This lady, however, apparently thought to avail herself of a liberty with Ernie, and she kissed him right smack on the lips!
Cindy went around for some weeks brooding about this blatant familiarity that the woman had taken with handsome Ernie until she finally unburdened her soul to another girl. The other girl asked her what the woman looked like. Cindy told her and the other girl burst out laughing. She said, "That was his mother!" It had truly been a holy kiss, as described in the Bible. The resemblance between Ernie and his mother was quite strong, but Ernie was so handsome that Cindy had immediately concluded that the kiss had been made on the basis of physical attraction.
Steve, the youngest son in the family, still lived at home when I boarded with his parents. He was a couple years younger than myself and we got along really great (most of the time). Sometimes he got mad at me. One of those occasions was when I tried to help him with his homework, but laughed at a spelling mistake he made because it gave his sentence a humorous meaning. I laughed too long and too hard. He stomped away and didn't talk to me until I apologized.
One day as Steve and I sat in the living room, he said in a singsong voice, "I know who Lanny likes." I asked, "Who?" He said, "Ernie," drawing the name out with glee. I asked him casually, "What makes you think so?" He replied, "Because when Ernie is around, you swallow like this …" and then he imitated a gulp. I felt embarrassed that I was so transparent.
Ernie, however, never gave any indication that he knew of my attraction to his handsome appearance. I rarely talked to him, but I knew he was really smart. He went to night school and took Physics "just for fun". What!? In those days, just thinking about Physics and Chemistry gave me the shivers. I never flirted with Ernie or went out of my way to be around him. I was too shy and felt it beneath my dignity to chase a guy. I actually saw him more often when I lived with the other people I had boarded with than when I lived with his parents. Ernie sometimes went to their home meetings.
Ernie had a girlfriend in his youth whom he had been really hung up on, but they split up. Ironically, she ended up marrying a guy I used to date before I became a Christian. The closest I came to dating Ernie was a double date, and he was with someone else. This is how it came about.
Ernie brought a stranger to one of the many weddings that were held at Christian Centre. There were a lot of young people in our church and they were pairing up like fury. Ernie and his acquaintance sat across the table from where I was sitting with my friends.
I wasn't impressed with the stranger's short hair, as this was in the 1970's and I was quite a snob about what I thought was "cool". Jerry was dressed cleanly and neatly in a plaid, cotton shirt and denim jeans. He was deeply embarrassed when he saw that everybody was dressed up except for Ernie and himself. He had met Ernie on the freeway about an hour before when Ernie stopped to help him change his flat tire.
After the tire was changed, Ernie invited Jerry to the wedding, but Jerry protested that he wasn't dressed to go to a wedding. Ernie assured him that it would be all right. Jerry looked at how Ernie was dressed and assumed that it was a very casual affair. Ernie practically lived in his worn–out, brown, corduroy jacket and blue jeans at that time. We told Jerry that we understood how he could have come to that conclusion and charitably assured him that nobody was offended by how he was dressed.
Jerry was an American who served at a Navy missile base a short distance across the border. He had never been on a ship, though he was in the Navy. I thought that he was really square, but when he asked me for a date, I supposed I had better agree to it, or Ernie might think that I was a snob. Which I was, but I didn't want him to realize that because he might then never ask me for a date.
Much to my surprise, Ernie was with Jerry when he picked me up, and then we picked up Ernie's date. Her name was Cheryl; I thought that she was dopey. Actually, she was quite intelligent and had a good job, but I was wont to be critical of her laugh and thought that she was dumbing herself down a bit too much to avoid being considered "threatening" by insecure males. I was sort of jealous.
I was also in a lot of pain. I had just had some moles removed, one from my back and another from one of my big toes. When I was a kid, I sometimes waved my big toe under my siblings' noses and bragged about my beauty mark. My Mom told me that I had elegant feet and here was the proof of it. But the first time a doctor caught sight of that "beauty mark", he gasped and urged me to meet him at the hospital the next day. He said that he had three patients who were currently dying from cancer due to that same kind of mole. I also had one on my back that he felt should be removed and he did a beautiful job of it, being careful to not leave a big scar.
My date with Jerry was the day after my surgery. The stitches hurt and, though I was dressed nice, a big lump was evident under the shiny fabric of my red blouse where the bandage on my back stood out. My right shoe was too tight because of the bandage on my toe.
If this wasn't bad enough, as soon as I started to get ready for my date that evening, a cold virus leaped on me. It was like something suddenly started to claw at my throat and it was too painful to talk. Nonetheless, that evening I managed to enjoy my surroundings and lobster dinner in a measure. The guys took Cheryl and me to the King Neptune restaurant by the docks in New Westminster. It was considered a posh restaurant in its day, before it was torn down to make way for the Westminster Quay.
It was winter and the weather was chilly. I had to use the ladies' room because cold temperatures have that kind of effect on me. We had barely left the restaurant when I felt like I needed to use the ladies' room again, but by then we were in Jerry's car and headed for Little Mountain. It was Cheryl's idea.
Between my sore throat, pain from my surgery, and a desperate need to use a bathroom, I couldn't make any conversation. Worst of all was my aching bladder. I was so uncomfortable in my need for a bathroom that I could not even think, never mind verbalize any thoughts.
No, maybe it was my pride that was my biggest problem. Like many young girls in my day, I wanted to be idealized, especially by a young man whom I found very attractive. I didn't want Ernie to know that I was human and used such vulgar things as restrooms; at least not to need them very often. When glamorous actresses in movies said that they had to use a powder room, all they did in it was powder their nose or straighten the seams in their stockings while having some dialogue with another woman. You never heard a toilet flush in the background, though ladies came along to primp in the mirrors, and look haughtily at how the other women were dressed before flouncing out again. I was under the impression that superior women did not have a bladder.
I longed for us to stop at a gas station, but instead I had to endure the tour. Cheryl warmed to her role as tour guide, chattily keeping up patter as she directed Jerry up the mountain. Could it get worse? Yes, it could get worse and it did. When we parked, Cheryl directed me to roll down my window so that Jerry could see the view better. I stiffly sat there, getting more chilled and ever more desperate for a bathroom by the moment. It consumed my thoughts.
Could things get worse? Oh, yes. Ernie and Cheryl started smooching in the backseat. Jerry and I sat uncomfortably for a few moments. He was probably trying to figure out how to make some moves on me, but I had not given him the slightest bit of encouragement the whole evening.
I was sitting there going out of my mind with a bladder that was shrilly demanding to be emptied, my feet feeling like frozen blocks of ice, which contributed to making the call of nature ever more desperate, my throat feeling like it had a wild animal tearing at it, my body aching with flu, and perpetual, prickling sharp pain from my stitches capping it all off like a garnish.
After a few minutes that seemed far too long, I primly said, "Well, we better go. I need to get up early to go to church tomorrow." Jerry started the car and we started down the mountain. We took Cheryl home and Ernie went inside with her to say goodnight in another lip–lock. I took advantage of his absence to tightly tell Jerry that I needed to use a ladies' room.
Jerry wasn't quite the plebeian that I was with my notion of stopping at a gas station; he had class. When Ernie returned, he took us to Shakey's Pizza for "a cup of coffee". I ordered a cup of tea and headed right away for the bathroom. Then I returned and we all played out the charade that we had wanted to get something to drink. Afterwards, Jerry took Ernie home and then drove me home.
Jerry got a bit of a shock when, after he accompanied me to the back door, I turned and shook his hand while thanking him for the dinner. He was a nice guy, even if he was a square, but after a lady in my church prayed for me to be delivered from lust, I no longer thought that I owed it to anyone to kiss them because they had bought me a meal. Not that I had done it purely out of duty before.
My friend Bonnie had one time said to me passionately, "Oh, Lanny, save your kisses for the man that you marry!" I had thought, "Corn–ee! The best part of a date is the necking. I can hardly wait for it!" After I was delivered from lust, I could see that it really is foolish to be frivolous with my favours.
Worldly men told me that they thought that it was a waste to not let anyone take liberties with me, but I was sure that the man I married some day would not share their opinion. I certainly knew that Jesus did not consider it a waste to keep myself pure. Mind you, if I had been in better health and if Jerry had longer hair, it might not have been so easy to just shake his hand. But he was the first guy that I did that to, and it felt good to end a date properly that way.
The evening wasn't quite over, though. Maybe Jerry was really rattled to get only a handshake out of an expensive lobster dinner, but it could have been simply the fact that he tried to back down a long, steep hill that was covered with frozen snow. He slid into the ditch at the end of the driveway. I answered the knock at the door and woke up Bud at Jerry's request, to see if he could help him get out of the ditch. Bud gave me an uncharacteristically hostile look as he walked past to go outside. I cringed and thought, "It's not my fault! I wasn't driving the car!" I sneaked off to bed.
Jerry did not get his car out of the ditch until the next day. I think that Ernie came and got him, and took him back to his house for the night.
I went off to church the next morning, feeling much better after a night's sleep. When I got home later in the afternoon, Jerry's car was gone. I learned that after a tow truck got it out of the ditch, Jerry stayed for lunch and had a pleasant chat with Bud and Ruby and Steve and Ernie. Steve asked Jerry, "So what do you think of Lanny?" Jerry cautiously replied, "Well, she seems like a nice girl, but she doesn't talk much, does she?" Steve's eyes bugged out as he cried in astonishment, "What!? Motor–mouth!?" We had a really good laugh when I explained to Steve why I hadn't talked all evening.
I never saw Jerry again, but if I had it to do over, I would appreciate him more, but keep the farewell at the end of it the same. The years have served to reinforce my views that Bonnie was right when she said to save my kisses for the man I marry, except that now I think that they should be saved for after marriage rather than bestowed before the vows are said. What if the engagement is broken? I would hate to waste my kisses on someone who wasn't entitled to them after all.
Copyright © 2010, Lanny Townsend
Page modified by Lanny Townsend on May 13, 2010
Scripture references on this website are closely paraphrased from e–Sword's King James Bible.