I can’t remember exactly which summer it was, ’59 or ’60, but the rest is crystal clear. I learned a most valuable worldly lesson that day. It was an education and a humiliation. A lesson in respect and that old adage: never judge a book by its cover.

It is often said that in the repressed and carefree 1950s that kids didn’t know about sex. That’s not exactly true. We didn’t know what lovemaking was or how a baby was born, but we certainly had a primitive knowledge of sex appeal.

Little girls knew they liked boys who were “cute,” and try as we may to think of girls as “icky,” we boys knew we wanted to be near the pretty ones.

If a girl was pretty and also able to run and catch and kick like a boy too, then she was even more desirable to be around.

I had always liked girls. They were my playmates. First LuLu, then Ruthie and after Kindergarden, Nancy and Patsy and Lora. I played high/low water with my girl cousins, so I was surrounded by women as I grew up. It was when you were around boys that you learned that liking and playing with girls was yucky and being a sissy. Didn’t matter to me; I liked girls.

I lacked the knowledge of how to tell someone I liked them. What did you say? What did you do?

On a brilliant summer day at the lake I thought I found out.

I liked Joyce Hoefers. I mean I REALLY LIKED Joyce. We had been classmates since Kindergarden and I worshiped her from afar. She was one of those pretty girls who could play like one of the boys, and I always wanted to be in her company. I just did not know how to tell her.

I noticed that boys were splashing and teasing girls they liked. Sometimes a boy would grab the girl he liked and duck her under the water, a flirtatious gesture designed to show her how much he cared. Often the girl would come up for air protesting and slapping, but then the two of them would run away together laughing about the matter.

“That was it!”, I realized. I had to show Joyce that I liked her by being the tough guy. I would grab her and throw her under the water in a manly display of admiration, and then she would laugh about it knowing she had captured my heart.

I approached her in the shallows at the edge of the beach and grabbed her from behind, preparing to push her under.

Everything after that is a blur….

Just as I went to push Joyce under, she pulled free, yelled “No you don’t!”, and in seconds I was being dunked not once, not twice, but three times over. As I came up for air I could see her walking away hurling even more anger in my direction.

This wasn’t the way it was supposed to happen! She was supposed to give in to me and laugh it all off and she would know that I truly liked her! I was humiliated. I was destroyed.

I looked around expecting to see everyone on the beach pointing their fingers at me and laughing at my sorry self. The weird thing was, it seemed like no one had even noticed, like it all happened in another dimension; “The Embarrassment Zone.”
I picked myself up and went up to the top of the wall to sit and ponder.

How could this have happened? A girl did this to me. A girl!

But this was not just any girl and I should have known better.

I should have been myself and not have been afraid. I should have been smart enough to walk up to her and say : “I like you Joyce.” I didn’t and I got my butt kicked.

I learned my lesson that day and from then on I held a profound respect for all women.

I still liked Joyce.

I still admired her from afar.

I mean REALLY afar.

I hope you enjoy it.
Jim Maddox

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