It was high school and I just liked how these guys were put together. I loved the way they leaned against their lockers, walked holding their books to the sides of their bodies, and how their ties hung loosely under their buttoned down collars. Seeing upperclassmen for the first time was breathtaking after having spent eight years with the same ten to twelve boys at one of the smallest Parochial schools in Pennsylvania, St. Boniface.
Greensburg Central Catholic High School was forty odd miles from Pittsburgh and sat perched on a high hill surrounded by farms on three sides. The back of the school faced a rocky drop-off overlooking Route 30.
The girls wore uniforms of gray blazers and red plaid skirts from Troutmans, knee high socks, and long sleeved oxford blouses. Guys wore coats, dress pants and ties. You started off your freshman year with your newly starched outfit of a pleated skirt, ironed blouse, and stiff gray wool jacket but by your junior year your skirt lost its’ shape, your three school blouses became softer in feel and muted in color, and your blazer hung on your more shapely body like a friendly sweater. This outfit was expensive to buy for my family and I realized early on that even if I were to outgrow it, I was expected to nurture it along for four years. The cuffs that peeked out during ninth grade grew to an entire cuff width by graduation. And as a poorer student bussed to the more affluent Greensburg district, I also realized within minutes that this uniform was the great neutralizer of wealth for a very limited closet.
I spent most of my non-class time laughing and talking primarily with my friend, Arlene Boyle. My view for four years of high school was of the back of her head. Her long straight brown hair brushed my books daily since we sat alphabetically from homeroom to the final bell of the day. But she became my best friend when she unexpectantly stood up to chastise a guy in our class for making fun of another student. Our teacher was out of the room and Arlene was fearless in her remarks. I was mesmerized by her gutsy move for fairness and kindness.
But, like maybe ninety percent of my classmates, I spent too much time feeling invisible as I watched the popular couples walking down the long corridors or eating together in the cafeteria. These couples seemed to effortlessly emerge between the cheerleaders and the football or basketball players and did not, to my knowledge, materialize between any members of our small art club.
I had a total of three dates in high school. My first date was with an excruciatingly quiet guy named Dave, who after a movie parked his car a mile and a half up the road from my parent’s house. We sat in his car parked between piles of trash and old tires. I kept asking him why we were parked in the dark and he finally just drove me home.
Arlene was responsible for arranging my second date. His name was Huey and it was my Junior prom. His request for my presence to this much anticipated event was the first and last words to come out of his mouth. The evening began with his family dog peeing on my new dotted Swiss gown, continued with the pink paint (mom’s idea) chipping off my shoes during the promenade into the gymnasium and with my slip ripping on the heel of my shoe (threw the slip in the trash). When I attempted to stand up after an insane silent meal my long dress caught onto the leg of my chair. To his credit, though, Huey gallantly caught me by my arm as I began to fall to the floor. The evening finally ended on a more positive note when two of my brothers, Jeff and Kevin, picked Huey up by his arms and threw him off the side porch. He had been waiting, I believe, for a kiss goodnight and that bit was just not going to happen.
I actually asked a guy to my senior prom. He was about 6’ 4” and insanely handsome with sandy colored hair. He worked in the clothing store next to where I sold shoes part-time after school at the Mall. He had a beautiful smile and was just plain nice. Strangely, I don’t remember his name or much about this date.
My real story, though, is about Walt Komorosky. He was the most popular football player at Central and was tall, a Senior, dark haired and had the body of a fine tuned athlete. Although I always said hi to Walt, I spent most of our weekly mass watching him from across the gymnasium floor. Arlene and I regularly talked about Walt and in short, I spent an unnatural amount of time fantasizing about that guy.
When he walked up to me one day between classes, he asked me out on a date. I said “Oh…come on….me…oh…come on Walt…are you kidding”? He didn’t answer and walked away.
Years later I ran into Walt and we were having quite a warm and enthusiastic conversation about our lives since high school. But you could see that he was working up to a serious question. He said he had to ask me something. “Why didn’t you go out with me when I asked you”? I was surprised and shocked by his expression and his question. I said “you were just too handsome to ask someone like me out.” That was, sadly, the last time I spoke to Walt.
I was talking with my husband, Mark, about the few dates I had in high school and he matter-of-factly said “ That was three more dates than I had”.