My First-First Date!

Location of my first-first date!
Pier in Brewerton, NY

This past Friday evening brought back a ton of memories when my youngest son went on his first-first date. I had my first-first date much earlier in life. And unlike my sons, when I went on mine, I was not old enough to drive. Heck, my dad had to drive us because we were only in elementary school. I’ll bet that neither Paulette nor my Dad even thought of this monumental event as a date.

This past Friday afternoon my wife and I got together with Devin to have a picnic before the big event. I had been coaching him all week and now this poor kid was so nervous that he could hardly eat. In fact, his nerves were so worked up that he could barely recall her response after asking her out!

I remember that feeling. It happened regularly. Butterflies worked up my stomach every time I was around Paulette. All I had to do was think of her and I was a mess and I wasn’t even ten years old. In case you haven’t made the connection, Frankie has a crush on Pretty Paulette in The Adventures of Frankie 😉 😉

My real life Paulette lived right around the corner. If I stood at the side door of our house where I grew up, I could just make out her front porch. The image I have of her is something like a supermodel, only shorter. Could that be my personal poetic license? Or perhaps just the passage of more than four decades? I’m pretty sure that she had dark hair with lots of curls. Not like Shirley Temple’s, but more like Merida from the animated film Brave. Come to think of it, I remember Paulette’s personality to be wild, kind’a like Merida. Besides, I can’t picture myself being all knotted up over someone as precocious as Shirley Temple.

As a parent of a wonderful, polite young man I found myself excited about Devin’s first-first date. I knew that he would have fun and treat that girl right. The plan was for them to meet at an ice cream shop close to their high school. If all went well then he would join her at the Friday night high school football game. That would be big, because Devin is not a sports fan, at all, not even a little!

On my first-first date I took Paulette fishing on the Oneida River in Brewerton, NY. We sat on the old concrete pier next to the Route 11 bridge. Typical Central New York weather; it was drizzling and cool. The only other thing I remember from that day more than forty years ago was that we had hot chocolate somewhere with my Dad. He was my hero, rescuing me from a disastrous first-first date!

It wasn’t long after that Paulette moved away. I’m not sure exactly what happened, she was just gone. Then a few years later on a hot summer afternoon she showed up at my front door, back in town for a few weeks to visit her dad. This time she really was looking like a supermodel (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it). Each day we got together for a few hours to talk, and talk, and talk. Her parents had divorced with her mom in Kentucky and father renting a house on the other end of our neighborhood. We never saw each other after that. Not sure if that’s good or bad. But she will always be a supermodel, at least in my memories.

Devin must have done well Friday evening because he has a second date lined up for Monday. To my surprise (not really) when I asked him how the date was, he said that it was good. I couldn’t help myself so I continued my line of questioning, “At a football game?” His response was cool, “Yeah, it was fun, and she held my hand.” Now I have to work on him to feel comfortable enough to bring her around so I can meet her. I guess he didn’t need me to be his hero, or to be involved with his first-first date in any way. Perhaps I am a good dad after all. Or maybe he’s just embarrassed by his dad? Nah, couldn’t be!!!!

Paulette visited Baldwinsville in 1976. I remember this because Paul McCartney’s “Listen To What The Man Said” had just come out. To this day I think of that girl and my first-first date whenever that song comes on the radio. In honor of that memory, There will be a chapter titled “First-First Date” in the up coming “Pretty Paulette” book.

Peter Berry

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