The Silver Queen - Part One
The simple answer to a complex question, “So what do you do?” is to talk about your career. For 38 years I was proud to tell folks I was a School Psychologist, and how I worked with special needs children, their teachers, their parents, and the administrators in charge of programming. When I retired in 2012, I became a “Writer.” I say writer, because beside the fact that I have had three books published and written numerous articles and LTE’s, which would earn me the title of “Author”, I write every day. So I like to consider myself a writer. Thing about associating with a writer, is you don’t want to upset them. Remember, the pen is mightier than the sword, and a good writer can “Cut someone down to size” with a few swipes of his pen or keyboard as it were. So at risk of getting kicked off the Schreiber 1967 Facebook Page, here, is my story. Or one part of it anyway.
Fifty-three years ago, I was a seventh grade student at C.P.Weber Junior High. Annointed or Afflicted - your call - with small stature and a big mouth that got me in trouble on a regular basis. Still does, but to a much lesser extent. I probably weighed in at 90 pounds dripping wet, so when I marched across the dance floor at a sock hop to ask a certain young lady to dance, she firmly rejected me and turned her back. I did the “walk of shame” back to my buddies some giggling, others waiting to put their arm around my sagging shoulders. Middle school can be a cruel host.
The summer between 7thand 8thgrade I made the usual trek away from Long Island’s heat and humidity to the coolness of the Connecticut Berkshires. My family owned a cottage on a lake. Ms. Ida Dubois, a math teacher at Weber had a cottage right next door to ours. One she purchased from my great aunt. I was pulled aside one day by Ms. Dubois, who told me that a friend of hers, Mildred Holt, was bringing her niece up for week. I might know her since she was in the same grade as me at Weber. Guess who? The same young damsel who soundly slammed the door in my little face.
As it turned out, away from school, we actually became friends. We went out on the lake in my motor boat, and swam, and went on walks, and talked, and really had a great time. I was so relieved that she had the chance to get to know me outside the rigid social hierarchy of the middle school, and hopeful that I might finally have earned my golden ticket. Well anyone who knows adolescents, knows the rest of this story. Back at school in 8thgrade, another dance, I proudly walk across the dance floor, and am greeted by the same steel door slammed in my face. I learned a very hard lesson that day, that the peer pressure was stronger than any friendship she may have bestowed on a mere peasant such as myself. (To be continued)
The Silver Queen Part II
Fast forward 53 years and I see the name of the maid of honor on the list of organizers for the Schreiber reunion. With some trepidation I reached out, with a “You might not remember me, but…” focusing on the lake experience and leaving the rest to the history books. Never heard back.
I walk into the hotel, and find that the two of the organizers, two “blondes” are at the registration desk. I remember them, having huge crushes on them back in the day. They were very friendly and we chatted some. As expected, adults, who have experienced LIFE, with all its trials and tribulations have grown and matured well past the vagaries of middle school and high school. At reunions, and I have attended a bunch, you find “kids” you never talked to, “nerds” even, who are now physicians, and attorneys, and researchers, and heads of major universities. They were all grown up with accomplishments, and lives, and stories, they were comrades now, on equal footing. We agreed that the “losers” don’t usually show up, but those with careers, and spouses, and kids and grandkids now, do.
So here I am at the reception, talking with my homeroom teacher for three years (sadly he did NOT remember me), and I turn to my right, and who should be standing right beside me but HER. I will call her the “Silver Queen” for the brilliant color of her tresses, and to save her SOME embarrassment. She knows who she is. I looked down, for now I was finally taller than her, and seeing her nametag called her name out loud. I held my nametag with my 14 year old black and white yearbook photo and introduced myself to her and…she turned her back and walked away.
My stomach tightened into a knot, and for the first time in decades, I felt like I was in middle school again. OMG!. I spotted another familiar face and walked over to talk with him. He was in the middle of a divorce, his much younger second wife having walked out less than three months ago, so I found myself fully engaged in his circumstances. The night ended well, and I found many friendly and familiar faces with stories to share.
It was the last event. A dinner and dance. I and absolutely no intention to dance. But dinner, and more heartfelt conversation? Oh yes. Social Hour on the outdoor patio, and dinner served, the DJ turned on the music. Our music from the 1960’s. I finished my dessert and walked over to watch. Everybody was having a wonderful time, with the dance floor filled. The Silver Queen was out there shaking a leg or two, having a great time. Why did I feel like I was back in middle school, standing with my back against the wall? I’m 67 years old, a professional, a psychologist, married for 34 years to a wonderful accomplished woman, yet I feel like I am 14 again, watching everyone else have fun while I stand alone, watching. Just watching.
Now then, my first date ever, was with a young lady who was just the nicest, sweetest girl I knew. My mom drove me to her house where I walked up to her front door, introduced myself to her parents, and walked her to my mom’s car opening the door for her then walking around to get in the other side. We went to the dance, and we danced. We even entered the Twist Contest…and WON! She could dance!
Turned out, she was also one of the organizers of this reunion and when she saw my name, messaged me about me being her dance partner. I excitedly replied filling in the details of our “date” and winning dance combination. When I first saw her in the lobby of the hotel, her face lit up, and boy did we hug. She introduced me to her husband, a fine gentleman who deserved his first class wife.
So here I am at the dance, and Carol (her real name) Carol’s husband walks over, and asks me if I was just enjoying being a wall flower. Boy was he reading my mind. I shared my story about the Silver Queen without pointing her out, or identifying her by name. He listened and told me, “Frank…. some people just never change.” Then it happened. His wife Carol is heading my way, inviting me to the dance floor. The DJ is playing, “Do the Twist!” and OMG we are out there dancing again. We danced through that one and another and another and, “One more?” and then others joined in for a circle dance. It was all over. My self-pity and my longing , gone, as I joined the revelers on the dance floor. I danced more that night with Carol and others, more than I have in years. It was a great evening. And as I watched the Silver Queen dancing with her pals, I thought , you know, people age and grow up and grow old, but some people… never change. They never learn how to be kind. And that, is sad for them.