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Cheryl P…my Teenaged Dream Girl
Unlike most students that went to Kingman High School, who either walked, rode the bus or who had their own transportation, I made my grand entrance like an elementary school child….by having my Mom drop me off at the curb. And as I limped away from her car, leaning on my cane, for physical, and perhaps even a bit of emotional support, I entered into a brave new world.
The world I had just left behind, the one I knew and cherished was the one where I knew practically all of the kids in school, and knew they looked forward to seeing me return in the Fall, usually ambling along with my well-worn aluminum crutches, sporting shiny new, stiches, bruises, contusions or casts. To them, I was not simply another handicapped anomaly, but a kid with a lot of summer stories to tell.
In that old world, my life was spent taking weekend family dirt-bike trips to the vast California deserts, where we could ride our bikes all day long and never cross the same paths. Alternating with weekend trips to Newport Beach, to play in the waves and to watch the budding girls in bathing suits….and to bring home terrible sunburns that pained me for days and scarred and damaged my skin for life.
In my new world, I found that there were two large, and distinct groups. One, made up of cowboys with stained lips and torn jeans, who chewed tobacco products, drove beat-up pickup trucks (or aspired to do so) and drank cheap beer. The second group was comprised of quiet and unassuming dark-skinned Indians, who clearly disliked the cowboys, kept their distances from the rest of us, and who I assumed, chewed home-grown peyote buttons for both sacred family rituals and sport.
Even though I was clearly from a much lower caste, and had a mismatched mindset from the cowboys, they eventually accepted me into their group. But the Indians, who no doubt had ancestors that participated in the slaughter of Custer, and who took his long blond-haired scalp at the Battle of Little Big Horn, always seemed to get a little twitchy and kept reaching for their tomahawks when I visited them in their corner of the KHS world.
Although I never got the idea that anyone in that group of rowdy cowboys was particularly smart, or had any interest in math, physics or science, one of us needed to demonstrate some higher calling in life…and as a 17 year old, with no formal training, discovered what chemistry was all about when I saw Cheryl P standing in the hallway!
Although I did not even know her name at the time, I was sure that she had been sent down from the heavens, to help accommodate my transition from a shy, crippled, 17 year-old Californian, to a, not quite so shy, semi-crippled, 17 year old, Arizonian, and nothing could have helped my conversion any better than this angelic looking, sweet and petite, 15 year old girl.
When I left school that day, I still didn’t know her name, but she had certainly left a lasting visual impression on me and that night I dreamed she was my girlfriend.
When I went to school the next day, I waited for her to show up at her locker, and when she did, the last vestiges of my shy nature dropped away, never to return, and like a snake sheading its skin, I took the first, bold step into my brave new world and went over and told her, “I don’t even know your name, but I had a dream about you last night!”
When I said that, her eyebrows went up, and I cautiously waited, hoping that she would not snap open her purse, and like most teenaged California girls I knew, pull out a handy little Ruger, Glock or Sig Sauer and shoot me in the heart.
But instead of shooting me, she blushed and coyly asked,” What was your dream?” Still, being a little gun shy, I only smiled and walked away, back to the “Cowboy Corner” refuge. Although she asked me the same question a few more times throughout the day, I never answered.
The next day, as I grew bolder, I left the Cowboy Corner lifestyle behind, and went and introduced myself to her and told her my dream.
It wasn’t long after that, that the two of us became an inseparable pair and often during school lunches, she would get on the back of my Yamaha 360, and we would ride in front of the school, popping wheelies to show off.
But like all good dreams, it was destined to end, and after 4 months or so, her parents, fearing we were getting to serious, made us break up.
And although life resumed and I went on to find another, “Older and wiser, but no less wary, Kingman, World Class Girl,” (who will always remain nameless!!) both, Cheryl, my teenaged dream girl, and I, will always be in debt to her blockheaded Dad, and attractive Mom, who forced us to move on with life.
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