It was the first day of school. I strolled into our faculty preschool workshop, glancing at my watch. 9:05. Damn. Five minutes late. Principal Hardass will have another letter in my file. I slid into the back row, glancing at the young teacher sitting beside the one empty seat. My lucky day. I thought. This might be the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.
She looked at me and smiled, holding out her hand toward the empty chair. I smiled back, drooling a bit. God, she’s pretty.
Superintendent Simon ending his opening remarks. He turned toward our guest speaker introducing the theme of individualization of instruction.
I turned to the glamorous woman beside me. Holding out my hand, I whispered, “Bobby Porter. I teach math.”
She gave me another smile. I was falling in love. I caught the flash of a diamond from her left hand. Shit, I cursed to myself.
“Jennifer. Jennifer Jordan. My first year as a high school English teacher.” Jennifer shook my hand. Her skin was velvet.
“Welcome to Eula High School.”
She gestured at the short, tough looking man on her left. Then she turned back to me and smiled again. I melted.
“You probably know Hank. Hank Huntley is the head football coach and head wrestling coach. He’s my fiancé.” Jennifer held up her left hand. I took it. More velvet. I lifted her hand close to my eye so I could see the tiny diamond.
I reached across and shook hands with Hank. “Hi, Hank. Good to see you. Congratulations. Lovely woman you found here.”
Shit, I thought. I thought getting acquainted with this new teacher might be fun, but apparently, Miss Perfect Proportions is already attached. Oh, well. Perhaps I can still give her a shot, see if she is susceptible to an advance from another guy.
The guest speaker was beginning. I glanced, stared really, at the woman beside me. I saw a pretty blonde, the kind with a perfect nose, bright red lips I’d love to kiss, and hair cascading to her shoulders. Jennifer was average height, average weight, better than average, spectacular breasts. Strong legs bursting seams on her tight, short skirt, completed my image of a perfect woman.
Jennifer was the kind of a woman I avoided. If I ever fell in love and married someone like our new English teacher, I know I’d spend the rest of my life hoping she could resist the approaches of every man who saw her. And every man who saw her would approach her.
I missed most of the lecture on individualization. Leaning back in my chair, I drank in the beauty of the woman beside me. On her left, Hank Huntley missed most of the lecture too. I heard him talking football with his offensive line coach on the other side of him.
I did hear our speaker offer us a teaching technique. He suggested we divide our class into groups of three; assigning rolls of a director, a scribe, and an evaluator, a person who couldn’t talk until the end. I took notes. I’ll use this, I thought.
We were given a break for coffee and donuts. I watched the two coaches take three each, then join the defensive coaches at a table while I sat with Jennifer. A question and answer session would follow. I had questions.
“Tell me about college, Jennifer.”
“I graduated in May from Northwestern College in Orange City.”
“How was Northwestern?”
“Swell. I knew everybody.”
“How was your football team? How’d you do against the Hawkeyes?”
“We’re a small school, Bobby. You’re thinking of Northwestern University in Chicago. They beat Iowa by two touchdowns. I rooted for them.”
I frowned. “Nobody in Iowa roots against the Hawks; do you know the penalty for treason?”
“Sure. You live in Iowa and root against the Hawks. That’s treason.”
“Unless you’re a Cyclone or a Panther.”
“You are neither. You’re guilty of treason.”
“And the penalty for treason.”
“Death?” She smiled. Perfect. I took back the breath she’d stolen.
“Worse. You have to go out for dinner with Bobby Porter. Friday night?”
“Hank’s football team is playing.”
“So we’ll go out Wednesday night. Hank’s team will be practicing. You can go out for dinner and go up to my place for a glass of wine.”
“I don’t drink alcohol. I took a pledge at Northwestern never to drink or smoke or … .”
“Don’t know you well enough.”
I moved close and whispered, “Sex?”
Jennifer nodded her head.
“You pledged not to have sex?”
Jennifer looked down.
“Darn. That spoils my plan.”
“Okay. We’ll go up to my place and neck for a while.”
She laid her smooth hand on top of mine. Velvet again. We watched the end of the lecture. My heard rate accelerated to one hundred twenty four.
Second Happiest Man
In the spring of my junior year in high school, I sat, with a group of college boys in the back seat of my friend’s beat up old Pontiac. As we waited for the carhop to bring our food, a Nash Rambler American pulled into the slot beside us. A sign on the door read, “Lee Ann Meriwether, Miss America 1955.”
I stared at the most beautiful woman in America. Lee Ann, in the back seat of the Rambler saw me, Bobby Porter, in the back seat of the Pontiac. The alluring woman gazed into my eyes and waved. Lights flashed in the colors of the rainbow to extol her smile. A mutual feeling of affection passed between my first true love and me.
Minutes later, we drove away, Lee Ann blew me a kiss. I returned the gesture. My hand wiped away a tear. I felt dreadful for breaking the heart of that gorgeous woman.
Now, I was about to begin my fourth year of teaching. Jennifer Jordan, our new high school English teacher at Eula High School formed a definite challenge to my memory of Miss America of 1955. Her engagement to Hank Huntley, our muscular ox of a football coach troubled me.
As the faculty applauded at the end of our high school teacher’s meeting I couldn’t imagine the reason. My first thought was, This applause must be in recognition of the beauty of Jennifer Jordan.
As she and I walked together toward her classroom, I reviewed the guiding principle of my romantic life. If a man married a magnificently beautiful woman, he would spend the rest of his life knowing that every man who saw his wife would fall in love and pursue her as an object of the man’s affection. On this day, Jennifer Jordan sent my rule circling down the drain like a sink full of dirty dishwater. My rule gave way to my hormones. This woman was too beautiful for me to ignore.
As we walked, I resisted the temptation of taking her hand; of feeling again, the velvet of her skin.
I could sense that Jennifer had a concern. She stopped, turning to face me. I fell in love with that look of unease on her face.
She said, “I heard nothing of Mr. Hardback’s lecture, Bobby Porter. What will I do?”
I reached out and took her hand. She held my fingers.
“I feel so bad for you, Jennifer. You won’t be able to teach your first period English literature class on Monday.”
She looked puzzled. “He didn’t tell me how to teach, did he?”
“You learned that in Orange City, at Northwest College, right?”
“Right. But what did he tell us for the rest of the hour; when you were busy trying to seduce a betrothed woman?”
“Nothing new. Today I heard the same lecture for the fourth time.”
“You heard nothing, Bobby.” She raised a finger to my face. “You were whispering sweet nothings to me for an hour. Anyway, how does that help me?”
“Mostly, he was telling us never to go up the down staircase. You already knew that.”
“And what else? You distracted me a lot. What?”
Her face looked sad. Most women are pretty ugly when they frown. Not Jennifer Jordan. She was still perfectly beautiful, but so sad. I wanted to cry. I wanted to hold her; to make her feel better.
I took her hand again. “Okay, I’ll tell you what. You come up to my classroom; room 104. I’ll spend ten minutes telling you everything he said in his hour and ten minute lecture. You can hold my hand some more and make me the second happiest man in this school.”
“Why second happiest? Who’s the first?”
“Easy question. Don’t you know?”
“No. Who’s the happiest man in this school?”
“Hank, of course. Hank Huntley, your fiancé. He gets to take you home tonight. He gets to take you to bed. He’s the luckiest guy in the school.”
“You’re wrong about that, Bobby Porter. We don’t have sex. Remember? I told you about my pledge?”
“The one where you promised never to have a glass of wine with me?”
She nodded her head and looked beautiful.
“The one where you promised never to smoke?”
“That’s a good one. I hate kissing girls who smoke.”
She nodded her head.
“That’d be the pledge you made to save all your sex for me?”
“Not quite the way it went, Bobby.”
She giggled. I fell in love with her again. This woman understands my humor. Is it too soon to ask her to marry me?
She stopped walking.
“This is my classroom, Bobby.”
Jennifer gave me a little hug and kissed my cheek. Her lips were velvet. I fell in love again.
“You’re sweet, Bobby. I’ll stop by this afternoon. You can tell me what I missed out on while you were trying to seduce me.”
“And dinner Wednesday?”
“I’ll check with Hank.”
“Not a good idea.”
“First, you seem like the kind of woman who thinks for herself.”
“Okay.” She giggled again. “Second reason?”
“If you tell Hank, he’ll beat me up. He’s 250 pounds of massive muscle. He’d hurt me. Better to just go out to dinner with me Wednesday and then go to my apartment and make out for a while without talking it over with Hank. It’s the merciful way.”
A song flittered through my brain. My eyes adore you.
I thought, I will grant your every wish, Jennifer Jordan.
“I get your No Sex rule. From this day forward the no sex rule is our rule. Now keep me alive and unbruised.”
She said, “I’ll consider protecting your life, Bobby.” I saw a twinkle in her eye.
“Good idea. You think about it. Make your own decision.”
Jennifer touched her hand against my cheek. Again I felt the velvety touch of her fingers. I reached up and touched my fingers against the back of her hand. I almost fainted at the touch.
“I’ll stop down later,” she said. “You can tell me what I missed in our meeting. Room 104?”
I smiled. A crooked smile.
“You got it.”
She told me she’d meet me in my classroom to talk about school rules.
I wondered if Jennifer Jordan would show up like she promised. I understood her problem. We had talked away Mr. Hardass’ lecture on high school policies. His lecture covered the same points every year. I think she appreciated my promised to highlight his words.
I kept busy, writing lesson plans for my first week of math classes, watching the clock; dreaming of Jennifer. Why do I make plans for a week, I wondered. After the first day I’ll be at a different spot. If I need a sub, I’ll have to write new plans for that day.
4:00 p.m. was teacher dismissal time. I wonder if she knows that. I spent the entire principal’s lecture attempting to convince our gorgeous new faculty member, that going out with me would be a good thing for her to do.
I watched the clock. 3:00. 3:10. 3:15. 3:17.
If Jennifer doesn’t come by 3:35, I’ll go get her, I told myself.
I raised my eyes and saw 3:34. Footsteps. The click of high heals in the hall. She was here. Soon to become the most alluring woman ever to teach in Eula High School, Jennifer Jordan peaked into my classroom. Her blonde hair and glowing face caught the afternoon light reflecting it like one of those magnifying mirrors. I stood, walking to greet a welcome ray of sunshine into my world.
“Hi Bobby,” she said in her soft, musical voice. Like a note from a Carolina wren, my name touched me. She held out her arms to offer me a hug. I embraced her perfect body, blending with mine for a moment or two longer than a typical hug between acquaintances. She reached up on her tip-toes to kiss me. Her lips landed between my cheek and my lips. Close to where I wanted it.
I became conscious of her fragrance. What? Lavender. Like a wondering bee searching for pollen I moved closer toward the lavender flower.
I took Jennifer’s hand, leading her to a seat in a student desk in the back row, away from easy observation from a passerby in the hall. On the way, I grabbed a dozen sheets of used, clean on one side, mimeograph paper.
We sat side by side. I pulled my chair close to her. She slid her chair so that it touched mine. I glanced down and saw her long, bare leg stretched below her short skirt. It looked strong and smooth, perhaps one of the two most perfect female legs on earth.
I warned myself again, Never marry this kind of woman, Bobby. You’ll spend the rest of your life fending off all other guys.
“Okay. Here’s what we missed when you were trying to seduce me during Mr. Hardass’ lecture.”
I wrote, Don’t go up the down staircase.
“Wait. That’s completely backwards, Bobby. It was you attempting to seduce me.”
“Just look at you,” I said. “Your legs stretching below that short skirt are the most enticing I have ever seen. Your tight skirt covers perhaps the most bootylicious back side in existence. Your breasts couldn’t be more perfect. Your chin, those fleshy lips, cute little dimples on your cheeks.”
I reached out and touched her nose with the tip of my index finger.
“Your nose is flawless, a fantastic fit for your face. I have no idea where you picked up those sparkling green eyes that speak so loudly of the fire in your soul. Not to mention long blonde hair that captures all the light in a room and returns it in a perpetual glow. No, Jennifer, every part of your sensuous being sends out a message of seduction.”
She reached out with her right hand, spreading long graceful fingers delicately on my right wrist. “You, Bobby Porter, are so full of shit.”
That’s when she turned toward me and kissed me, her lips gentle on mine. I lifted my left hand to her neck, twining my fingers in soft, blonde hair. Our kiss connected my lips to her luscious red lips for at least a minute. I traced my tongue along the line of her lips and felt the tip of her tongue touch mine. Finally, she pulled away.
Jennifer reached out and touched the paper. I saw her tremble. She read. “Okay. I know about the staircase. What else?”
I wrote shaky lines:
2. Skirt length: < 6” above the knee.
3. Teachers skirts below the knees.
4. No cleavage.
5. Three strikes: If a student misbehaves in your class warn him. Then if he or she doesn’t shape up, warm him or her again. After the third warning you can send the student to the office. Three office referrals in a semester and the student loses credit for your course and gets a failing grade.”
6. Be timely with your grade reports and midterm letters.
“These are the big rules. Now we can talk about them.”
I smiled at Jennifer. God she was beautiful. My heart was falling in love with Jennifer Jordan. My brain said get out, Bobby. Get out before she breaks your heart.
As we sat side-by-side in the back of my classroom. Jennifer Jordan, this woman whom I had known for only a few hours had surprised me with an impromptu kiss. She yanked the spirit from my body, sending it sailing across the ceiling like a paper airplane. I watched from above as my body interacted in the passionate kiss with this gorgeous young English teacher.
Then she leaned back in her chair. I searched for coyness on her face and saw only a shy, Why did I kiss this man?, look. Finally, ignoring the clanging bells filling my classroom, she said, “Alright, tell me the rules of our school.”
I stuttered and stammered and finally said, “Okay, first rule: Never go up the down stairway.”
“I know that, Bobby. You told me three times already.”
“That’s because it’s such an important rule. You can really screw up traffic flow if you do it wrong.”
Jennifer chuckled. I loved that she thought my stupid humor was funny.
“Okay. Second rule. Skirt length < 6” above the knee.”
I glanced at her bare thigh.
“Third rule. Teachers skirts below the knees.”
I reached down and laid my hand on her knee, gently rubbing her velvety skin.
“If you wear that dress on Monday, Mr. Hardass will put a letter in your file.”
“Okay. I have another dress.” She placed her hand on mine.
“Third rule. No cleavage.” I glanced at her chest. “You are in very good shape.”
“I meant … “
Jennifer smiled again. “Are there any rules about guys?”
“Nope. Just girls. Control the girls and the guys won’t be tempted.”
“You told me a while ago, didn’t you. About my body seducing you?”
“Nothing about the real me? My brain and what’s in my heart had nothing to do with your attraction to me?”
“Everything. Your sense of humor. Your bewitching smile that won’t go away. Your sweetness. Your intelligence. I don’t know about your heart yet. But I’d like to search for it someday.”
Jennifer smiled again. She understands my joke. I thought. I love her sense of humor.
“What else? What else did Mr. Hardback say?”
“Discipline. Three strikes. I already told you that rule. Kids get three chances at bad behavior. Then they are out.”
“My advice is be tough for the first week. Later, you can loosen up.
“Sixth rule. Be timely with your grade reports and midterm letters. That one’s for me.”
“Sometimes I suffer from deficient planning disease.”
“Deficient planning disease. I give a geometry test near the end of the semester. It takes ten hours to grade and I only have nine hours to work before grades are due. My grades are due at 3:00 and I turn them in at 4:00.
“That screws up the secretaries since the report cards are due out Thursday. So they don’t go out until Friday. Then the parents start calling the school and Mr. Hardass has to take the blame. He gets perturbed at me again. That’s when he sticks another letter in my file.”
Jennifer looks so sad about my predicament. I put my hand on Jennifer’s hand to comfort her. Her skin feels like velvet. She put her hand on my hand to comfort me. I put my hand on her hand because I’ve made the mistake of falling in love with a truly delightful woman, one who happens to be betrothed to our football coach, the strongest, toughest man on our faculty, a man of whom I am very much afraid.
Jennifer pulled her hands away.
“Amazing!” I said.
“You pulled your hands away and a piece ripped from my heart.”
She ignored my declaration of love.
“Yes. Every Monday morning except when we don’t, we gather together in the home-economics room to spoil the week. Oh, and be on time.”
“Isn’t that obvious?”
“That was for me also. Sometimes, I’d forget and come late. Finally, in December, he put a letter in my file.”
“What did the letter say?”
“Bobby comes late to faculty meetings.”
“You should be more prompt.”
“I am. The letter in the file worked. That and my trick.”
“Yea. I pretend the meeting starts at 7:15. If I’m on time, I’m 15 minutes early.”
“Does it work?”
“Like a charm. I was never late, all last semester.”
“Congratulations. Does Mr. Hardback have a grudge against you.”
“We hate each other. It’s mutual.”
“It’s alright. I’m getting used to it. By the way, if you’d like, you can pretend the meetings start at 7:15 also. Then we could neck or hold hands or talk together about school rules or sex or something.”
“You have a one track mind, don’t you?”
“I’m sorry. I fell in love with you. I couldn’t help it. You are the most perfectly prepossessing woman I’ve ever met.”
“You know I’ve made this pledge about no sex until marriage. And I’m engaged.”
“And he’s at football practice and everybody else has gone home.”
“So maybe you would kiss me again?”
“I leaned toward Jennifer Jordan and tilted my head. Our lips came together and we began where we left off. I felt her tongue touch my lips. I touched her teeth. Her mouth tasted sweet, fresh. She touched mine. Our tongues twined. After five minutes, I reached out and pulled her body into mine. She pulled me into her.
Then she said through the kiss, “Wednesday. What time?”
“Come to my apartment after school. We’ll talk about school rules and sex, whatever.”
“I’ll need to freshen up a bit after school. 4:30? Where do you live?”
“810 11th Street, a block north of you. You can walk.”
“I’ll find it.”
“What about Hank?”
“He won’t be able to come. He has football practice.”
“I mean, you’re engaged.”
“Maybe not for long.”
“I’m not sure I want to spend my whole life with someone who can’t kiss like Bobby Porter.”
The clock on the wall above my Mac said 4:35 p.m.
She’s late, I thought. I wonder if she’s coming.
I heard a knock. Opening the door, I gasped. The vision stole my breath. Her dress was short and tight. Her cleavage stimulated my imagination.
Jennifer greeted me with a kiss and an embrace. My hand touched her bare shoulder. Her skin was velvet.
After a couple of minutes, she pushed me away.
“We can’t spend all our time necking, Bobby. We have to do other stuff too.”
I smiled. “Wanna put a puzzle together? I got a new one for Christmas. A Rocky Mountain lake; still sealed in the box.”
She smiled at my humor. “We should talk some more about school rules from Mr. Hardback’s talk.”
“Right. We could to do that. Then have sex.”
Jennifer shook her head; waving her finger at me as if I was a naughty little boy.
“Right. I forgot. You pledged to wait until marriage.”
I lifted her left hand and kissed her palm.
She almost giggled.
“I gave it back.”
“Did you tell the big guy about me?”
“If I’d told him about you, I’d be going to your funeral next week.”
“You didn’t tell him his kisses were inadequate?”
“That would be hurtful. I couldn’t do that.”
“So, you and I can do whatever we want tonight?”
“Sure. Just no sex until we’re married.”
“Are you proposing?”
“I should have said, ‘unless!’ Okay? Besides, I don’t want you to think I am fickle. Being engaged to two men in a week sounds capricious, don’t you think? ”
“Capricious? That’s not in my vocabulary, but it sounds like a good word. I’m guessing it has something to do with fickleness.”
“You’re pretty wise for a mathematics teacher, Buddy.”
A smile popped onto my face. “I love being around you, Jennifer. Any other rules I should know? Can I touch your breasts?”
“Maybe someday. Not yet.”
“Alright. It’s good to know.”
“Why don’t we go out to eat? Have you chosen a place?”
“Cibo’s Restaurant and Lounge in Cedar Rapids. It’s dark. We can go incognito.”
“Steaks, Lamb Chops, I love their Blackened Chicken Pasta. It’s spicy.”
“I like spicy.”
“Shall we go?” I took her hand.
As we approached my Ford Ranger, Jennifer pulled me to a stop. “Your pickup?”
“Your John Kerry for President bumper sticker?”
“You’re proud of it?”
“I shook hands with George W. Busch four times.”
“I’m a Christian. I forgive you for your indiscretion.”
Jennifer frowned. Perhaps my humor crossed a line?
“I’ve driven a van for the John Kerry campaign.”
She was still frowning. “Is this going to be a problem? I’ve been a Republican all my life.”
“My parents voted for Nixon. … The first time. Then they figured him out.”
“My parents voted for Eisenhower.”
Jennifer smiled again. I sighed in relief. God she is beautiful. How could I be falling in love with a Republican?
We stood in the street, professing our opposing political beliefs.
“Shall we go out and discuss our politics over dinner?”
“Not a good idea. Political arguments can’t be good for digestion.”
“Then we’ll talk about something else; how you became so beautiful, your childhood as a precocious child, adventures where I almost died.”
I opened her door. “Adventures where you almost died?”
“There are many. Most involved my stupidity.”
“Why doesn’t that surprise me?”
I held the door and Jennifer climbed into my Ranger. I loved the bench seat. She glided to the middle and fastened the seat belt. I slid behind the wheel, her leg against mine; a Republican woman and a Democratic man, close beside each other.
She asked, “How did you know I was a precocious child?”
“With your beauty, every teacher loved you. Nobody loves an ugly little kid. It takes a great teacher to love the smelly kid with dog poop on his shoes.”
“You’re right. Every one of my teachers adored me.“
“Many of mine prayed every night that my parents would move.”
“I believe that. How can I be on the verge of falling in love with you?”
“Obvious. It’s because of Janet Bailey.”
“Janet Bailey is the reason I broke my engagement with Hank Huntley and I’m on a date to have dinner with Bobby Porter? Explain.”
“Yup. When I was 20, I robbed the cradle and dated 15 year old Janet Bailey. She was the second girl I ever kissed. Janet taught me how. We had a completely chaste relationship, but the girl taught me how to kiss.”
“I’m not sure a lot of kissing makes a chaste relationship, Bobby.”
We parked in Cibo’s dark parking lot. Jennifer pulled me over to her and kissed me. A minute later, she said, “I’m in debt to Janet Bailey.”
I held her hand as we walked to the restaurant. We took seats side-by-side at a table for four.
“You know I’m breaking my rule, Jennifer? For years, I’ve been picky about who I date, avoiding really beautiful woman. And now you. You may be everything I’ve looked for; everything I’ve spent my life looking for. You can’t help being beautiful. You are smart and I love your sense of humor. You’ve heard all of that before.”
“I never get tired of hearing a handsome man tell me all of that, but you’re right, let’s talk about something else.”
“School? How was your first week with the kids?”
“These kids are wonderful.” She smiled a happy smile. “The first day we wrote and they wrote pretty good stories.”
“What I did on my summer vacation?”
Jennifer smiled. “That’s old school. I gave them twenty minutes to write about their greatest success last year.”
“Actually, two of them wrote about geometry. Both of them beamed with pride at the achievement. One of them said he was proud that his extra effort earned him a comeback. The other blamed it on a teacher who helped her when she needed it. Way to go, Mr. Porter.”
“That’s cool, Jennifer.” Now I smiled a happy smile. “Makes me feel three of us accomplished something.”
She reached over and kissed me on the cheek. “You’re a good man, Bobby Porter; a good man who can kiss. And I don’t think I’ve ever kissed a Democrat before.”
“See what you’ve missed out on?”
Jennifer Jordan and I returned home to my apartment after our first date. Lying on my bed we listened to my sound system. Adele sang softly, as if she were in the room. Adele sang, ‘Make You Feel My Love.’ I whispered in Jennifer’s ear, “You may be everything I need.”
We were both fully clothed. My arms surrounded the charming woman lying beside me. Our arms held our bodies together.
Jennifer pulled her lips away from mine. Disappointment flooded my mind. She leaned on her elbows and gave me a peck on my lips, then looked into my eyes.
“Can we be serious, Bobby?”
“You want to talk about the Iraq War?”
“Actually, that’s exactly what I want to talk about.”
“Mom and dad supported the Vietnam War.”
“That was a Democratic War.”
“My parents thought we needed to be in Vietnam to prevent the spread of communism.”
I lifted up my head and kissed her again. I liked the way she kissed me back.
“I respect that thought but, in retrospect, I think we jumped into Vietnam after someone made the claim that the North Vietnamese attacked two of our destroyers in 1964 in the Gulf of Tonkin. Lyndon Johnson was president. That was right after Kennedy was killed. So the Democrats started it. Seems as if your Republican parents would have been opposed to that war.”
She kissed me again. “Nice.”
“The kiss or the war?”
“The kiss. I hated the war.”
We hadn’t gotten to the Iraq War yet, but I was in no hurry.
“Every college kid and every boy of draft age opposed that war. There were protests all over the country. Mom and dad love the USA. When a bunch of kids demonstrated against the war, they thought it was unpatriotic. Dad fought in Korea. It upset him when people like John Kerry threw their medals into a bond fire.”
“First, Kerry didn’t really do that. He pretended to throw his medals in a fire, but he really didn’t do it. I agree. It seemed fake. He was there. He fought in the war and when he came home he decided the war was immoral.”
I put my hands on her cheeks and pulled Jennifer over to kiss me again.
“Mmm. That’s nice. What about the fake attack that earned him a silver star?”
“I read about that. Guys on the boat back up Kerry’s claim.”
“We could argue about that. Maybe it’s easier to put that stuff to the side and agree that we probably won’t agree.”
“We could talk about school.”
“Okay. Rules? Your classes? My classes?”
“Let’s talk about your classes. I talked to Randy Deerfield yesterday about your sophomore English class.”
“Really? What did Randy say?”
I kissed her again. She licked her lips. “Sweet. What did his say?”
“He said he’s in love with his English teacher.”
“Randy’s a lot cuter than you. Wish he was a bit older.”
“Don’t mess around with your students. That’s the quickest way to lose all you’ve worked for during the last four years.”
“Just kidding. But your advice is unimpeachable. Every year I read about a teacher or two who messes around with a student. He goes to jail and then they yank his teaching certificate.”
“Or she. Sometimes a female teacher messes around with a student; either male or female.”
“I was just teasing you, Bobby. I’d never, ever fiddle with a student. Anyway, I’m in love with someone else.”
“Really? Who would that be?”
I reached down and grabbed her butt. Then I kissed her.
She grabbed my hand and pushed it away. “Do you have permission to do that?”
“Sorry. Just teasing. How are his kisses?”
“Hard to say. Kiss me again. I’ll make a judgement.”
I kissed her.
A minute later, she lifted her lips. “Mmm. That was nice. I think his kisses are almost equal to yours.”
“Maybe I need more practice.” I wove my fingers through her blonde hair and pulled her to me.
“You can practice all night and you’ll never be any better than he is.”
“A prize if I guess right?”
“Okay. A kiss.”
“In this school?”
“You know better.”
“There are only three of us who are single. And Neal Fry is Gay. Have you kissed Neal?”
“No. That’s seven questions.”
“That wasn’t a question. I was just being funny.”
“I’m an English teacher, Bobby. I know a question when I hear it. Seven.”
“Mr. Girsch is 62 years old. I’m guessing you haven’t been kissing the other English teacher. I’m going to take a wild guess and guess you are comparing me with me.”
“You win.” She leaned down, let the entire weight of her body rest on me and kissed me. I allowed her to lead as I accepted my prize. My head was giddy by the time Jennifer rolled off me and held me close on the bed.
“I love you, Bobby. I can’t believe I fell in love with a Democrat.”
An hour later, I woke up. Jennifer’s body was up tight against mine. I smelled lavender. I remembered her voice, sexy and solid and gentle. This woman was beautiful, she smelled good, she sounded good. Her skin felt like velvet.
Twenty minutes later, I was asleep again, when she gave me a little kiss.
“I have to go to the toilet.”
“Are you spending the night?”
“You’re welcome to stay.”
“I pledged to avoid sex until I married. If I stay, I may not be able to keep that pledge, Bobby.”
“Then stay. By all means, stay.”
“I’d love to. Also tomorrow is a school day.”
“Just have them write a story.”
“Then I’d have to read a hundred stories. I couldn’t see you all weekend.”
“You could put them in groups of three; have them read their stories to each other.”
“Mmm. No. I have to go home.”
“I’ll walk you.”
We walked tight together, hip-to-hip, as if we were in three legged race at the carnival.
A half block away, she pulled me to a stop.
“What’s wrong? That Mustang; in front of my house. It’s Hank.”
“What do you want to do?”
“I should go home by myself. We’ll talk it out.”
“He might hurt you.”
“He’d never do that.”
“We could avoid the problem; go back to my apartment; you can spent the night. I’ll promised to avoid this sex thing.”
She paused, backing away from her apartment.
“Okay. I don’t want to face him tonight.”
We turned and walked back to my apartment.
A Democrat and A Republican
After school one night, we walked to my house. We avoided holding hands. If somebody saw us the whole town would know we were an item in a day. I grabbed a package of hot dogs out of my freezer and threw a package of day-old whole wheat buns in a grocery bag.
“Do you like mustard and catsup on your hot dogs?”
“Not if the evening includes kissing.”
“Chips and dip?”
I pulled four carrots from the vegetable drawer, pealed them with my potato peeler, and quartered them.
I drove us to a county park in Grundy County, building a fire and roasting a hot dog.
“Can I help?”
“You want to set the table?
“I can do that.”
After Jennifer ate two of my hot dogs, chips, and a couple of carrots, she said, “Maybe I’ll keep you around. You seem to have some domestic skills.”
“I make great grilled cheese sandwiches too. Sometimes with avocados.”
“Do you do laundry?”
“When I’m desperate. You?”
“It’s a girl think. Besides, all Republican women know how to take care of their men. I think it’s a plank in the platform.”
“Republican men have the good life all figured out, don’t they?”
“Do Democrats believe in men doing housework?”
“The women do and us guys are following along, but I don’t think it’s included in our platform.”
We put our food away and took a walk, hand in hand around the park. In a remote section of the park I kissed her.
After five minutes, she said, “My neck is getting stiff. Can we take this discussion to my apartment?”
I didn’t argue.
Later that night Jennifer and I were lying together in her bed. We were both fully dressed except for our shoes.
Jennifer asked, “Our dates seem to take place a county or two away from Eula. It’s like we are having an affair.”
“It’s probably better if we don’t rub it in to Hank. He hasn’t used all of that muscle to kill me yet. I’d just as soon avoid death for as long as possible.
I asked again about touching her breasts. Again she turned me down.
“I made a fourth pledge at Northwestern, Bobby.”
“No smoking, drinking, sex, and … ?”
“I was a member of the young Republicans and I pledged I would never kiss a Democrat.”
“One down, one to go?”
“You think I should take up smoking?”
“For sure not.”
“A glass of wine now and then wouldn’t hurt you.”
“I don’t have the urge.”
“What about the pledge not to have sex.”
“You tempt me, Bobby, but I’m resisting.”
“Good. I would not want to tempt you to sin.”
“I don’t think it’s a sin. I just think … or thought it would be better to wait.”
“Do you still feel that way?”
“Let’s talk about politics.”
“I’m dating a Democrat and you don’t seem as evil as I thought you’d be.”
“Maybe sex would be like that too.”
“And maybe you really are evil, you, you, … Democrat.”
We were holding hands. I glanced at her face and her profile next to me on the bed. Jennifer is so beautiful. Hell, I keep describing her as “Most Beautiful,” and she still wins that prize hands down.
“Is that the worst insult you can think of?”
“Don’t you know, I’m falling in love with you, Bobby Porter.”
“How could you fall in love with a … Democrat.”
“It goes against the basic premises of my life. I don’t understand it.”
She rolled over and surrounded me in her arms, pressing her body against mine, she kissed me.
“And how could you fall in love with a Republican?”
“It goes against every premise of my existence, Jennifer, but you are so damned lovely and you respond to my kisses like you’re a kid on a visit to the candy store. And you laugh at my jokes. I made a list. Only two negatives.”
“First, there’s the Republican thing. I’m adjusting. We might work our way through this.”
“Second, your beauty is flawless. No woman on earth has a more beautiful face. Your figure sends my subconscious into contortions. There are your breasts that you won’t let me touch. Your legs that feel like I’m rubbing my hands along a piece of velvet cloth. You are smart. I love our intelligent conversation. And you are the only woman I know who laughs at my stupid jokes.
“As I’ve said before, you are so sumptuous that forever, every man who meets you will attempt to seduce you.”
At that moment, our peace was destroyed by heavy pounding on the door.
I glanced at the round white alarm clock with the bell on top. 12:12 a.m.
“Who’s that?” I asked
“Don’t let him kill me.”
“Go hide in the closet. Quick.”
She stripped off all her clothes and threw them in a pile in the corner. Oh my God, I thought. Thank you, Hank Huntley.
Jennifer pulled on pajama’s and a robe.
“Hide in the closet, Bobby. Now!”
She opened the door.
I heard Hank’s deep voice, “Jennifer, we have to talk.”
I heard the door close.
“What are you doing here in the middle of the night, Hank?”
“We have to talk.”
“No, we don’t have to talk. I decided I don’t want to spend my life with you, Hank. It was time to end this. We don’t need to talk it over. It’s over. What part of over do you not understand?”
“Jennifer, I love you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. You are so fucking sexy. I was willing to wait for our wedding, but now, I ain’t willing to wait any more.”
I heard a scream.
“No, Hank. Leave me alone.”
I came out of the closet, peaked through the door to the living room. Hank had ripped off her robe. He had gathered her in his arms. She was beating on his chest with her fists.
In two long strides, I was in the living room. Here goes my death, I thought.
I doubled up my fist and swung from my waist smacking Hank Huntley a solid blow on his ear. He dropped to the floor, spasmed a couple of times and lay still. A one-punch fight might have saved my life.
Jennifer threw her arms around my neck. Her tears running down my cheek, her sobs filling the quiet apartment. Her body nestled into mine.
Three minutes later, she said, “What do we do now?”
“Call the police?”
“No! I can’t. Hank would lose his job.”
“Should we call an ambulance?”
“I don’t know.”
“We could tell them he fell as he was trying to rape you.”
“You could drag him down the stairs.”
She looked out the window. “His car is on the street.”
“Can we get him in his car?”
“Let’s do it.”
We drug the big coach down the steps, his feet bouncing on the steps. Before I closed the car door, he was groaning like he was about to regain consciousness.
Jennifer locked the bottom door, below her stairway and the door at the top of the stairs.
We heard his car start and drive away.
We lay in her bed, she in short sexy pajamas, me in shorts and a t-shirt. Her head rested on my chest.
She rolled away from me. I wrapped my arms around her as we spooned. She pulled my hand to her breast. It must be time.
On Fridays teachers were dismissed at 3:30. I had loved Jennifer Jordon for a month. She walked into my classroom at 3:35. I glanced up from my seat at my desk and gasped for a breath. You’d think I’d become used to her beauty. Jennifer stood at the door to my classroom wearing a plain tight pink skirt and and a white blouse with lovely pink flowers and green leaves. Her high heals highlighted the muscles of her perfect legs. I forced a breath into my lungs.
In a voice just louder than a whisper, I said, “My God you are beautiful.” Jennifer smiled. I struggled for another breath.
“That skirt is really sexy,” I told her. “Is it a special kind?”
“It’s called a pencil skirt.”
“Must be the old kind, with the sexy shape to fit your fingers.”
She walked up to my desk and kissed me gently.”
“I’m ready to leave for home, Bobby.”
“Sure you don’t want me to come along?”
“I want you with me every minute; but Mom and Dad and I need to talk.”
“About you. And Hank. They don’t know I broke off our engagement.”
“And they don’t know about me?”
“They don’t know about you. How will I do this?”
“You want me to tell you?”
“You know me better than that, dear one. I have to figure this out myself. What would you suggest?”
“Tell them your engagement is over, but not a word about me.”
“When they learn about you, they will not understand that I’m in love with a Democrat. Dad might have a stroke.”
“I could come along and help. ‘Hi, Mr. and Mrs. Jordan. Your daughter decided she liked my kisses so she broke her engagement with Hank Huntley. She and I are planning on spending the next seventy years together.’ Think that’d help?”
“Dad would spend the rest of his life in jail. After he shot you, he might even shoot me.”
“Maybe you should stay here for the weekend. We could go squirrel hunting; put some meat on the table.”
“Dad would probably go with you. He loves to hunt squirrels. Anyway, I’d better go. Walk me to my car, Bobby. I want you to kiss me goodby.”
I shoved all the paper from my desktop in a drawer, grabbing a set of geometry tests to grade on the weekend. I walked to the door, resisting the temptation of taking Jennifer’s hand. We walked the two blocks to her apartment. After she started her car, I glanced up and down the street. It was empty so I put my head in her window and kissed her goodbye.
“I love you,” she said.
“I love you,” I said. “Concentrate on your driving. I don’t want anything to happen to you. Call me.”
She drove away. I felt sad.
Eula High School’s new English teacher had changed my life like metamorphosis changed the life of a monarch butterfly. I was unrecognizable. Oh, outside I looked like the same crazy high school math teacher I had been in the spring. Inside, Bobby Porter was unrecognizable.
I strolled on home. In my apartment, I sat down in a stuffed chair and put my feet on the old beat-up, unmatched hassock. My weekend companion will be 85 geometry tests. I thought. At least I’ll catch up on some work this weekend. I could go see Hank’s football team play. They play Parkersburg tonight. The Falcons are reigning state champs. Hank’s tigers are playing well. We could win this game. I hope so. Hank has to feel bad about losing his fiancé. Only Jennifer and I know why. Our stealth is saving my life. Perhaps his terrific football team gives Hank a good feeling about a part of his life. He was really a nice guy. I don’t want him to feel bad. I just don’t have a death wish.
An hour later, I had finished the first page of seven. Only 510 pages to go. I sliced some colby-jack cheese, added butter to the outside of a slice of whole wheat bread, and married an avocado with my cheese. Five minutes later I sat down to a tasty and somewhat healthy avocado and cheese sandwich and a glass of skim milk.
Coolness grabbed the late September evening. I dressed in a t-shirt, a sweatshirt, a warm jacket and a pair of cargo shorts. In the stands, I found a seat beside Jill Perkins a first grade teacher.
Just before half time, my phone rang. It was Jennifer. I answered and said, “Can I call you back?”
I left the stands, walked to the back fence, and clicked on her number.
“Hi to you, beautiful.”
“How do you know?”
“For a month, you’ve been beautiful every time I’ve seen you. Why would you change?”
“I love you,” she whispered.
“I talked to Mom and Dad.”
“They wondered if Hank did something mean?”
“I told them I just figured out I wasn’t in love; that I wanted to spend my life with someone I loved.”
“And then, Dad wanted to know if I’d found someone else who I was in love with.”
“And you told him?”
“I told him.”
“And he said.”
“He said, ‘You’re a big girl, Jennifer. You have to do what makes you happy.’”
“Mom said, ‘If you’re happy, we’re happy.”
“It was almost as if they knew Hank and I weren’t meant to be.”
“I want to drive to Eula tonight and spend the night with you.”
“I’m willing, but I don’t want you to die in a fiery crash on the highway.”
“Better spend the weekend with your parents. Give them hugs for me.”
“Might be too soon for that. You can meet them soon. They might love you too.”
“I have a plan.”
“Your dad and I can go squirrel hunting. And I’ll compliment your mom on her apple pie.”
“That’ll do it. You’re so funny.”
“You’re the only girl I’ve ever dated who loves my humor.”
“How many girls have you dated?”
“Thank God for Janet Bailey.”
“She learned to kiss at an early age.”
“I wonder who taught her?”
“Maybe her sister. They were close.”
“Boys would never do that. Girls?”
“Not that I know of. Gross.”
“Hank’s team is ahead at the half. 21-10.”
“I’m happy for him.”
“Me too. He deserves something good in his life now that he’s lost you.”
“Mom’s calling. I have to go. Thanks for calling.”
“You called me.”
“You’re right. Love you.”
“And I love you. I’m glad your folks understand about Hank.”
Twenty-five years later, our youngest daughter, Elizabeth, graduated from The University of Northern Iowa. Beth and her boyfriend had both signed teachers contracts in Gandy Center, a little farm town an hour northwest of Des Moines. They were to be married in June.
Before the wedding, I asked Craig Jackson, Beth’s soon-to-be husband to go for a walk around the block.
“What’s going on, Mr. Porter?”
“I’d like to broach a subject on which I have a little experience and throw out some un-asked for advice; if you’ll allow me.”
“Certainly, Mr. Porter.”
“First how about we move on to you calling me Bobby. We’d both be more comfortable.”
“Sorry. I’ve called you Mr. Porter in my math classes for three years; it’s hard to change.”
“I want talk to you about marrying a beautiful woman, Craig. In my opinion, the woman you’re marrying is the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen, with the possible exception of my wife. Marrying a beautiful woman comes with a problem, Craig.”
“What’s that, Mr. Porter?”
“I married the most beautiful woman I’ve ever known, and that includes Lea Ann Meriwether, Miss America of 1955. When you marry the most lovely woman in the county, you have to make sure your job, every day will be to make her happy and let her know how much you love her. Every man she meets will attempt to take her away from you. Either don’t marry my daughter or make a plan to live up to the challenge.
“My daughter inherited Jennifer’s beauty, Craig. You and I are living with the same problem, Craig. Do it right.”
Elizabeth appeared behind us.
“I heard that, Daddy; don’t worry about Craig and I. I could never be with another man.”
“Why do you say that, darling?”
“This is private, Daddy; just between the three of us.”
“When Craig was a senior in high school, he dated an eighth grade girl who taught him how to kiss. You probably remember her. Sally Bailey. No boy I’ve ever met can kiss like Craig, Daddy. I’ll never find another man like him.”