Monday, August 1, 2016
Hallway Monitor (Chick) Revised
(A High School vignette: Washington High School, 1965)
The girl, Gayle Johnson, was one of the freshman cheerleaders at Washington High School. A nice girl, always dressed for the times; she was a year younger than I, I was seventeen or eighteen at the time, a senior, and a hallway monitor during the lunch periods. It was the summer of ’65, you can call me Chick.
She was lean, but shapely, and feminine; smart looking; not real tall, shorter than she was taller, with big eyes, and wavy soft blond hair; an eye catcher. Daily during those far-off school days she’d come walking down the hallway with two or more girlfriends. It took only a few minutes. She never said more than a ‘hello,’ along with giving me a big smile. She appeared to be very popular in school, and apparently joined many of the clubs and school activities. Something I avoided.
I’d actually wait in anticipation for her to come along, and if she didn’t: darn if I didn’t miss seeing her.
She looked like a soft rabbit, and those big Betty Davis eyes, a little beauty, without a name. I hadn’t thought positive about any girl in particular at Washington High, except I could have thought positive about her, but I was dating a girl from Johnson High School on the East Side of town, an Italian, nice looking gal, but looking back I think I would have altered that for Gayle.
It looked to me, the day that Gayle started school and passed by my post, turning right to enter the lunchroom, we connected eye to eye, once and forevermore, never to forget—; at least halfway down the hallway this eye contact started if not sooner, as if we were white on rice.
She appeared to be shy, but was she, perhaps I was?
She was never by herself. Her head was always clumped with other heads. Not looking towards the lunchroom door at all, but at me, as if I was a window, and she was looking out while I was looking in. It was as if I would kind of drift, towards her, never moving from the chair.
I never talked much back then, and didn’t realize she knew more about me than I knew about her.
I gave someone my yearbook, the year of graduation, to pass around for me, because I knew in advance I’d be absent, and Gayle wrote in it “I Love you” but who was Gayle? I asked myself, and the few other kids I asked to identify her, and they couldn’t, thus, she was someone who had no face for me, or recognition. And had I known it was Gayle with the Betty Davis eyes, well, I would have said, she wasn’t shy anymore, rather to the contrary. But guys are shyer than women, and when a woman wants you, they go after you, and if a hundred men are standing by willing to give life and limb, they’ll pass them up, take my word for it, time and time again, has proven that fact for me.
Anyhow, I think I read “I love you,” too fast, not knowing the name, and she signed it properly, actually she signed it as if she was on her way to being, Miss America, or Miss Wall Street! With big loops, and fancy swirls. But it wasn’t that; I just didn’t know who was who; had I, well I think life for me would have been a little different.
As I inferred, boys are different than girls, they know what they want, and a few friends said: she’s a sophomore, no she’s a freshman, yet I couldn’t put two and two together, nor could they, we could have made a good hoot together—if I was a seer looking back, and who knows what from there; I would have taken my pushchair in that hallway and there might have been a romance in the makings, —who’s to say; but I didn’t bat an eye. It’s not that she wasn’t worth the time to investigate further, the thing is I didn’t take it serious, and to be frank I didn’t think she paid any real attention to me beyond, just being polite.
So we had our hallway romance, or maybe it was just me.
But in 1994, evidently she reached the point where her boldness came to a head-on, and she called me up at work, and mind you that’s twenty-nine years later. And I still couldn’t put two and two together. When she called me, I was not a married man at that time, and she wanted to meet me, and I had a few bad experiences in meeting with old female friends, so I declined. Hence, she said, “When you see me, you’ll know who I am!”
Had she said, “I’m the gal with the Betty Davis’ eyes,” the decline would have been reversed, I would have met her in a flash.
In any case, it wasn’t until 2003, I found out who Gayle was, when my mother passed on and my brother and I did some housecleaning and I found my High School 1965-yearbook, and when I did—looking up her name after rereading her sentence in the yearbook again, —I kicked myself in the ass for being so unconscious, had I simply looked up her name in 1965: well, that’s another story, never to be told, because it didn’t happen.
If she ever reads this, and I doubt she will, but if… she had no equal in Washington High, not in my eyes anyhow; God bless her soul.
Short Story No: 1000 (January 4, 5, 6, and 2014) / First Short Story for 2014 / For: Gayle Johnson
By Dennis L. Siluk, Dr. H.c. © 2014 “The Hallway Monitor” Shortened, revised, September, 15, 2014.
Reedited 7-2016. (3rd Version, revised)