Second Thoughts


Second Thoughts

“Telephone for you, Debra.”

“Got it downstairs.”

“Please hang up up there, Mom,” she thought. “This could be important.”

The Publications Dance was exactly a week away, and she had really been working on Ralph lately. Maybe, just maybe …

“Hello, Debra? This is Rick Meyers.”

“Oh … uh, hi.”

“You know who I am, don’t you? We’re in the same history lecture.”

She knew who he was all right. He had about the worst case of acne in the whole school.

“Yeah, sure. How are you?”

“Great. Listen, the reason I’m calling is about the Publications Dance next Friday night. Would you like to go?”

“Uh … gee … well … I’m really not sure. I mean, I’d like to, but my dad said something about some kind of a family activity that weekend, and I really ought to check with him first.”

“Oh, sure, I understand. Would you like me to call back this evening when he’s home from work?”

“Yeah. Okay. Anytime after dinner. That would be okay. Uh, thanks for calling, Rick.”

“Talk to you later. Bye.”

“Bye.”

Oh, groan! Rick Meyers! What to do now? He was a nice enough guy. He wasn’t a juvenile delinquent or anything, but she didn’t want to be seen with the worst case of adolescent acne in the school. She would only have to be seen with someone like that a couple of times, and it would be social suicide. People would think she liked him, and she’d never get anyone else to ask her out.

But there were other problems. If she told Rick no and then someone else called, she couldn’t very well turn around and say yes. Maybe Rick would be there with someone else, or maybe someone would tell him. And she didn’t want to hurt his feelings. She just didn’t want to go to the dance with him. Everyone would be at the dance. That’s all anyone had talked about in the cafeteria annex for a week or more.

Oh, rats! Where did a girl go for advice at a time like this? To her mother? Her dad? The bishop? Come to think of it, the bishop had said something about this very situation at a fireside one night. He had said, “You owe any decent young man who asks you out the courtesy of consideration. You should look beneath the surface when choosing your friends.” He had said that. Those very words. So, there it was. Like it or not. When Rick called back she’d have to tell him yes.

For the rest of the week Debra avoided the cafeteria annex. She made up an excuse about a big exam and spent her lunch hours in the library. A couple of times she saw Rick in the halls, but she always managed to duck somewhere so she wouldn’t have to talk to him, or heaven forbid, be seen walking down the hall with him.

She decided not to make a new dress. Who cares? The dirndl skirt and blouse would be fine. When she finally mentioned the date to her parents, she left out the acne. Her mom thought a bad complexion was about the worst thing in the world. She was always pointing out girls downtown or in the doctor’s office or somewhere and saying, “Aren’t you lucky your skin doesn’t look like that?” She could imagine the look her mother would have on her face when she opened the front door Friday night and saw Rick standing there.

Friday night arrived, just as she had suspected it would. Debra didn’t particularly care if she looked devastating or not, but she managed to be a little late getting ready anyway. She found Dad and Rick chatting quite pleasantly when she walked into the front room. Mom had straightened things up and had lit a fire in the fireplace.

“Ready to go?”

“Uh huh. I guess you’ve met my parents.”

“Yes. And it’s been nice talking to you, sir,” he said, shaking hands with her father and nodding to her mother. They said good night and stepped outside.

It was nice out. The sky was still azure, and there was a fair sprinkling of stars already. Rick’s car was empty. He hadn’t said anything about doubling with anyone, but she had been hoping there would be someone else along. Probably the boys weren’t any more enthusiastic about double dating with him than the girls were about going out with him.

“I hope you’re hungry,” Rick broke in.

“Hungry?” Now? at 7:30? It was standard procedure to go somewhere after the dance. Not before. Either to the Pizza Hut or to Sneldons for ice cream.

“I probably should have warned you in advance so you’d save your appetite. My Mom’s cooked up a whole bunch of Tahitian food, and my brother and his family are coming over.”

“Tahitian food?”

“Yeah. It’s the best. And Mom really knows how to cook it. She learned when we were in Tahiti.”

“You were in Tahiti? I didn’t know that.”

“Yeah, we were for three years. My parents presided over the mission there.”

“Your parents did? I thought mission presidents were always old and retired.”

“Well, a lot of them are. I guess my folks are pretty old compared to yours. I’m the baby of our family.”

“So, you’ve been in Tahiti for the last three years?”

“Just about. We only came home this summer.”

“Where did you go to school?”

“Well, that was a problem. The closest good schools were in Auckland, New Zealand.”

“Boarding schools?”

“Yep.”

“And how did you like it? I’ve always thought it would be fun to live away from home.”

“It was. It was a lot of fun, and I made some very good friends, but I really missed my folks. They’re the greatest.”

They really were. His mother was warm and welcoming. His father was a real tease. His older brother, Bob, was there with his wife and two little boys who plainly adored their uncle Rick. Debra noticed Bob’s complexion was a little rugged, too, like maybe he’d had skin problems when he was younger. His wife was cute though. She looked like she might have been a cheerleader somewhere. They were a jolly group. They laughed, and joked, and horsed around with the kids, and ate, and ate, and ate, until Debra started worrying about the snaps holding on her waistband. She was amazed when Rick said, “Hey, we’d better get going, or there won’t be any music left.”

Surprisingly enough, Rick’s dancing wasn’t half bad. And he had so many interesting things to talk about. She never had to worry about what to say next, and when they occasionally did slip into a few minutes of silence, it didn’t seem awkward. She didn’t find herself plotting endlessly to keep things bubbling along. It had always seemed very important to bubble when she was on a date.

They talked about the places they had been, and about families, and about the Church. Debra had a straight A average in seminary, but Rick knew things about the gospel she had never heard of. They were in the middle of a great discussion on free agency when Rick interrupted with, “I guess this is the last dance. Want me to get your coat now and avoid the rush?”

“No, let’s dance. I don’t mind waiting.” She closed her eyes for a second and then looked up at him. He still had about the worst case of acne she had ever seen. But he did have nice eyes. And a very nice smile. And she couldn’t remember when she had had more fun on a date.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Jerry Harston