LAURA - February, 1967
I was alone in the gym. The music for the ballroom scene of Romeo and Juliet was playing on the dance club's stereo. In pink tights and a pink leotard fashioned like a Grecian tunic, I watched myself in the mirror that covered one wall of the rehearsal hall -- watching for any sign of a flaw. My pink satin slipper flashed up in extension, back in an arabesque. A half turn, a diagonal run, a full stag leap. A full turn, another run, a bent stag leap. Every move without hesitation or error. I walked to the bar for a series of plie´s. I wondered if Allan would be nervous dancing in front of my friends. He shouldn't, I decided -- the Dance Committee would be there also.
The committee arrived first. Comprised of two premiere dancers, one Theatre Arts instructor, two dance instructors and the President of the Thespian Society; they settled into the bleachers at the end of the room. I continued to rehearse, unmoved by their appearance. They were soon followed by Vicky, Kate and Jeanette. I didn't know Kate well at the time. We would become best friends in the years to come, but she was so different from anyone I had known before. Vicky was dating my friend Teddy, the Lighting Director for The Thespian Society, and I often double-dated with them. I had been dating Jason Reynolds, the Assistant Director, for about three months, but I knew that wasn't going to continue much longer.
Jason was tall, blond and moderately good-looking. It was his pomposity that bothered me. He paraded me like a trophy he'd won in the dating wars. I expected him to ask for my head so he could mount it in his bedroom, but I had no intention of him ever getting me in there. Someone was going to get me into his bedroom, however. I just hadn't found the right man. It was only five months until my twentieth birthday, and I was determined not to be a twenty-year-old virgin. All the attempts to storm the fortress of my maidenhead during my teen dating years (which began at the age of 13 -- we started young in Southern California) had been in vain. I wasn't interested in backseat fumbles with pimply adolescents -- my mother told me to find someone experienced for my first lover. I was still looking, but my self-imposed deadline was drawing near.
I had seen Kate watching Teddy, during play rehearsals and crew calls of the Thespian Society. I knew Teddy and Vicky weren't going to work out together. Jason and I had fixed them up by locking them in the light booth one night. Kate had a certain edgy wit, and I thought maybe she and Teddy would make a good couple. If it looked like Teddy and Vicky were going to split for good, I'd put my mind to getting Kate and Teddy together. I loved matchmaking. There was something that made me think Kate and I were more alike than we seemed. She didn't like Jeanette. She'd never said so, but I could tell. Anyone who could see through Jeanette was all right with me.
I changed the music. The pas de deux was what Allan would audition to; it wasn't much good to me as a solo, but I began some moves. Turning slowly in a bent leg extension, I saw him standing in the doorway watching me.
He was tall and slender, with honey blond hair that curled around his ears. An aristocratic face, lean with high cheekbones and a square jaw. A large, sculpted, sensual mouth. He wore a white T-shirt, skin-tight faded jeans, and black ballet slippers. I froze, my leg in mid-air, my eyes riveted to his. As he moved towards me I straightened, and held out my hands to him. We began to dance together, moving naturally as if we had been partners forever. I turned and moved away from him, and with a light run leapt into his arms. He caught me neatly, and, with a half-turn, ended facing the mirror. There was a burst of applause from the bleachers. When he put me down, he smiled down at me.
"Hello. I'm Allan Reeves."
"Laura Hall. How would you like to be my Romeo?"
"You mean in the ballet?"
We laughed. "Perhaps," I replied. "Come meet the Dance Committee. They make the final decision, but there's no chance they won't want you. They're not blind."
He blushed, embarrassed. I took his hand and led him to the bleachers, where the committee was seated. As we neared them Kate caught my eye, and her look of horror and panic made me drop Allan's hand. He looked down at me questioningly, then followed my eyes up to Kate's face. His smile froze, his grey eyes holding Kate's like chips of cloudy ice. Something was going on. I decided I'd have to find out what it was. Had Allan been dating Kate at some time in the recent past? If she knew him, why hadn't she recommended him to me?
KATE - February, 1967
He was wearing a pair of the tightest jeans ever. I struggled futilely to keep my eyes riveted to his chest. One glance at Jeanette and Vicky convinced me it was a useless attempt. A large bulge went halfway down the lengthy expanse of his thigh. Since his excitement was evident, I could only believe those jeans caused him extreme pain.
Laura jumped straight at him. He caught her with controlled ease and pivoted gracefully. They were staring intently into one another's eyes.
In my right ear Vicky piped triumphantly, "I knew this would work."
In my left ear Jeanette sounded off. "So she's met her match at last."
Allan Reeves put Laura down slowly. He shook his crop of limp hair back and I knew a moment of true horror. "It's Al!" Jeanette looked at me expectantly. "Denny Cook's friend." She gripped my arm with more strength than one would expect from such a skinny girl. We were drawn together by sheer shock. Later, as we all gathered on the gym floor, I was trying to sort out a confusing panorama of emotions. Laura was looking at Al (no, Allan, she called him) with adoring calf-eyes, as if he were the answer to a maiden's prayer. He seemed strangely altered. Quite masculine while dancing, and even now, displaying fewer feminine qualities than before. He'd gained some muscle since I'd seen him, too. His glances toward me were frequent and cautious, all the while he chatted charmingly with Laura. I was nonplussed.
Vicky had begun to tell Jeanette and I about her last date with Teddy. At least I knew how to react to that. Guilt. Pure guilt. I wanted Teddy. He was a mountain of six feet or better, with a chest and shoulders that were huge and heavily muscled. The way he moved, his slow speech, all seemed to say, "I am a gentle giant". Not knowing much about him, I still knew enough to like the silly smile he always wore. Last weekend he'd dropped by my house on his way to Vicky's. I served him iced tea and behaved politely. He complimented me outrageously. It was balm to my wounded spirit. After breaking up with my high school sweetheart the summer before, I'd gone out with an unsatisfactory succession of young men. At least, I was unsatisfied. Several of them asked me out repeatedly, but I always refused. Better bored at home. At least there I could always read. It is extremely rude to pull a book out of your purse in the middle of a date.
Teddy was different. When he'd drunk the tea, I walked him out to his car, being careful to keep at least three feet between us. He said goodbye and grabbed me and kissed me. I was stunned and stood stock still for a second. It was like being held by some great, huge bear; struggle was just not practical. After a moment I had no desire to struggle, and his arms became a gentle fortress. I was at home. Then he let go of me, slowly, and I had to put conscious effort into keeping my legs under me. He said, "I'm sorry. That was wrong. Because of Vicky." I nodded with my heart in my mouth and he jumped into the little white Rambler he managed to keep running, somehow, and roared off.
Just now Vicky was telling us how patient Teddy was. He'd asked her permission before kissing her for the first time. Although he'd been mildly annoyed because she'd never let him do more than that, he'd always been easy to control. For the second time that day I was thoroughly astounded. Did all men have multiple personalities?
Laura left to shower and change after making arrangements with Allan to rehearse. Vicky and Jeanette were staying to have a coke with her, afterwards. Allan asked where I was going. "Out to the parking lot to meet my mother."
"May I escort you?" His smile and mannerisms were chivalrous, as if to say, `This is the way women should be treated.' His voice seemed two octaves lower than when I had originally known him. He needed a shave.
"Uh ... sure." My usual wit had deserted me. I just couldn't think of anything to say. We walked awhile in silence.
At long last, he said, "Do you realize how much I enjoyed dancing with Laura?" His voice had gone up a bit and his hips swayed gently as he walked. Suddenly he was a flaming faggot again!
"Of course. She's a wonderful dancer. She over-acts, I think, but she dances well. All that melodramatic business of staring into your eyes." I didn't want to say what I was most afraid of, so instead I said, "She doesn't know you're gay."
"I thought, perhaps ..." He looked pleased with himself. This was irritating.
"I thought you were out of the closet."
"I was ... er, am. But I'd prefer she didn't know."
"No chance." I had no particular desire to be rude, but this was insane. He was standing there with his knees together, and his toes pointed in. His right hand was extended, limp-wristed, into mid-air and with his left he brushed his hair back in a highly feminine gesture. Besides all that ... "I have an uncle who took to dating women. After awhile it was one particular woman. He didn't tell her the truth and finally married her. They had a child. She's been through unholy hell." I gave him as piercing a look as I could manage. A difficult task when you're cute, cuddly, and a foot shorter than anyone else. "It is not ethical behavior."
"I wouldn't do that." He was half-way hurt, and half-way smiling. Wanting to giggle at my assumed sternness, and genuinely wounded to be accused of such a thing.
I watched him closely for a moment. He was telling the truth. Thinking back to what I remembered of Al, I had to believe him. He'd never cheated in class, and was astounded when another student was caught. His attendance record was perfect. His assignments were in on time. He'd played that game by conventional rules. Now that he wasn't behaving like a poor man's Noel Coward, I liked him. "OK. So don't." He kissed me on the cheek, and I hugged him.
A horn sounded loudly and I saw my mom's big Dodge truck. "Here she is." When Mom stopped the truck, he gave me a hand up. I introduced them. They were both scrupulously polite, like this was a test and they would be graded on it.
Mom maneuvered the huge vehicle through the narrow parking lanes. She looked over at me while we were at a stop sign. "You're not going out with him, are you?" Her violet eyes lit with concern. She was pretty at forty-five years of age, with salt and pepper hair, standing five feet nine inches tall in her stocking feet.
"Not me, but maybe Laura."
"Good God, no!" For once I was in complete sympathy with her.