I Got You Babe
(© 2018 by the author)
Editor: Jerry W.
The author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed without the author's
consent. Comments are appreciated at...
Love is grand even when you can’t define what it is.
You know it when you feel it. I was lucky enough to feel it and I feel it still. Once you have loved, you don’t ever forget. The power of caring for someone more than you care for yourself is unmistakable. It’s the stuff dreams are made of, and I dream on.
The sundae was made in a large glass with a thick stem and base. It started with a rich velvety chocolate foundation, vanilla ice cream on top of that, followed by another layer of heavenly chocolate, more vanilla ice cream, a mountain of whipped cream with a cherry on top. I’d bet on fifteen hundred calories at a minimum. In the years David and I were together, I must have watched him consume a hundred of this Mighty Mo specialty dessert.
He never gained an ounce and his stomach stayed flat. I think I always loved David. Oh, I guess when he first started working on my Harvey Dairy milk truck there was a minute when I didn’t sense our supercharged chemistry, but mostly I always loved him.
You know when you’re in love by the way it envelops you. This raging force takes over your life. Rational thought and any claim to an ordinary life are lost.
It’s like being smacked upside the head while you're inside a barrel someone is beating upon. It gets your attention, but for the life of you, you can't figure out why. You're like a puppy in your master's hands. What ever he wants, you are racing to get it for him.
David wanted a lot of ice cream sundaes. It came after the Mighty Mo burger, fries, and chocolate shake. Long after I was done, David was still packing it away. An honest hunger for a teenage boy after a days work.
Why we spend so much time looking for love is a mystery to me. I don’t remember ever being so miserably happy before I met David.
From the first time he climbed on my milk truck I saw the sparkle in his eyes and the warmth in his smile.
“Can I deliver milk for you?” He asked. “Jimmy's not home.”
Jimmy being David's next door neighbor. I allowed Jimmy to deliver to the two other houses on Oglethorpe St. For this labor I gave him a pint of chocolate milk.
I delivered to Jimmy's house and he seemed a bit lost. The chocolate milk would perk him up, but I couldn't just give it to him, so he deliver the two stops below his house.
Even that first time David stepped onto my truck, I let him finish my route with me. I bought him a burger. I gave him some money, and when I left him off, I forked over the pint of chocolate milk, which is what he was after.
“Can I help you tomorrow?” David asked, seeking to cut Jimmy out of the deal.
“I deliver here Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. You be sitting on the steps in front of your house at 5a.m. On those days you can help me each week. We'll talk pay once I see how fast you are.”
“Cool,” he said, opening the chocolate milk. “Thanks.”
Each time David was with me, all the stars in the universe were perfectly aligned. On first site of him I was exhilarated. When I dropped him off, my only thoughts were of not being able to wait to see him again.
He slept in my arms from the first night we spent together to the last. I never met anyone else that fit my arms so perfectly and we slept the sleep of angels. If that ain’t love I don’t know what is.
I remember our first trip. We went to New York City. I liked the city then. It was big and a little bit wild and there was always something to do. After driving up early in the day, we parked the car right after coming out of the Lincoln tunnel and headed for the modest hotels between 42nd Street and Broadway.
Our fifth floor room looked out on a busy cross street in the heart of Manhattan. I opened the big glass window, which allowed the sound of the city below into the room. David bounced lightly on the bed as I leaned on the window seal and leaned out to take it all in.
The horns blew. Traffic stopped and started in fits. People walked in all directions to get across the busy street. No one seemed to notice the cars they walked around. It was a far cry from the quiet D.C. suburbs where I worked and lived.
“Ready?” I asked.
“Yeah,” David answered, hopping up, ready for whatever I had in mind.
We wound our way down into the nearest subway, which would have been relatively unpleasant if not for the adventure. It was dank and dirty and I stopped for enough tokens to get us to and from Far Rockaway.
It was late September and there was coolness in the air, but a light jacket did the trick. We were lucky enough to get one of the older subway cars with windows that you could put down from the top. It was enough to circulate the fresh air once we got above ground but they didn't open far enough to get a body out of it. Probably a carefully arrived at space after a lot of trial and error.
We passed speeding shiny aluminum cars winging their way along the tracks, heading back toward the city. Our train seemed to be on no hurry. The day was bright and the sky was blue. Our subway car stopped and started infrequently, as we got farther and farther from the city.
David’s hands rested on top of the window frame on the window he looked out of. The window itself was grimy and capable of offering little in the way of a view, but he looked out of the little slot that allowed the fresh air in.
His expressive face was filled with the excitement of a new experience. His intense blue eyes studied the landscape as the towering apartments were separated by more and more space as we moved farther along the tracks, until they became like great structures built to keep the occupants out of the city and yet close enough to get to it without much effort.
The station was elevated where we got off at Coney Island. It gave us a complete view of the slow motion amusement park.
Looking into his face at the time was magnificent. Watching his eyes seeing the city disappear was neat. He was where he was, involved, and enjoying being there. I didn’t tell him where the subway ride would end, because that would be an even grander surprise, as we raced to mount the roller coaster, riding, riding, riding, back and forth, laughing and feeling the cool September Atlantic air all around us. The Cyclone was a classic. I’d heard about it for years, but experiencing it was 100 times better than it was cracked up to be.
The Cyclone and Nathans were what I came for and they were easy to find as the Cyclone’s wooden structure stretched out from the dark wooden boardwalk across the deserted beach that time of year, until you reached the Atlantic Ocean.
This was enough to get David’s juices flowing. He didn’t have a clue about Coney Island but I’d heard of it since I was old enough to know there was a New York. It seemed like the only real reason why a journey to New York was worth the effort. Obviously there weren’t many people who knew of this quiet getaway next to the sea, except I’d seen pictures of the beach in mid-summer when the beach was covered with near naked bodies.
I collected enough tickets for a half dozen rides on the Cyclone. Knowing David’s and my taste in entertainment, it wasn’t too many, and there was little competition for seats. We sat in the very front and we sat in the very back. We laughed, held our hands over our heads, screamed when we hit the dip, and laughed harder as we charged straight up toward the sky. The cars swung out over the Atlantic with a jerk before we were jerked back toward the boardwalk. It was heaven.
We laughed as we jogged down the wooden ramp, leaving the Cyclone behind, heading for Nathan’s. It was careful planning that had us on the roller coaster before we pigged out at Nathan’s.
We stood eating Nathan's hot dogs, our first food since arriving in New York. The juice from the plump dogs ran on our chins as we stuffed one after another in our mouths, washing each down with soda.
It was heaven in a bun and we weren’t disappointed. Like the Cyclone, Nathan's was better than I expected it would be.
David beamed his approval, keeping his blue eyes on me as we ate.
Ain't love grand.
We spent five minutes looking for something else that interested us and then we raced back to the subway stop.
It was a new subway car going back. We winged our way back to the city on a cushion of air. While the trip to Far Rockaway seemed to take a long time, we were climbing out of the subway at 42nd Street in no time.
We looked down the street at one theater Marquee after another. This was going to take a little time. I’d selected Coney Island as our first destination. David stopped in front of each theater to examine posters promoting the movies playing at each. He knew this was his decision.
“This one,” he said, standing under the marquee for ‘The War Wagon’ and ‘Von ‘Ryan’s Express.’
How predictable. A cowboy movie followed by a war movie.
I'm ready to take a break. Lets go to the room for a while and we'll come back, go to the movie, and then find a place to eat.
“Cool,” he said.
We liked movies, bowling, pool, and pinball. On my days off we started at the bowling alley, shot pool for a few hours, and we’d end most days together with a triple feature at one of the dozen drive-in movie theaters around Washington D.C.
We only slowed down long enough to eat.
On days David ran the milk for me, I'd watch him leave the truck with the milk and I'd watch him return. Some days I'd just look at him once he stepped back on the truck. He was beautiful and I was in love.
David would say, “What!”
What indeed!. He knew what. He'd known what for almost as long as I had.
We went down on to 42nd Street and passed the line of marquees. We stopped under the one with Von Ryan’s Express and The War Wagon. It’s the one we agreed he wanted to see. There were a dozen marquees on both sides of the street, so we weren’t without choices.
Half way through the movie David moved down from where we sat to sit on a step near the balcony railing. I didn’t know he needed glasses then, but I knew what the guy that went and sat beside him wanted. I called to David but he was engrossed in the movie and he didn’t return to the seat beside me until it ended.
“Don’t you know what that guy was after?” I asked.
He gave me a curious look before saying, “Of course.”
He didn’t say anything else and he stayed put for the War Wagon.
It wasn’t until I took him to get his driver’s license that I learned of his visual shortcomings. They turned him away after he failed the eye test. After getting a pair of glasses he aced the test the following week. It was then I understood more about him. By that time we’d been in love for years and on the trip to New York we didn’t know all that much about each other, except it was good being together.
Once the movies were done we went to the Automat. I’d never seen such a thing. You pumped in money and opened a door and there was fresh, warm, just prepared food. Through the glass doors where the food was placed for purchasing, you could see the people cooking and wrapping the food for you.
It didn’t beat Burger Chef for David, but he didn’t mind and his appetite didn’t suffer. We both got a kick out of finding something that looked good, putting in our coins, and going to town on it. We ran out of appetite before we ran out of food. I must admit it would never work today but it was good food at a modest price and nothing had been there long enough to go bad.
Only in New York!
The following morning we were off to Palisades Park. The first fifty people were going to get a bag full of goodies. There was nothing like the offer of free goodies to entice two young men to an amusement park. We took the first bus that took us out along the cliffs beside the Hudson River. It was a great bus ride. We arrived an hour before the park opened and claimed our bag of goodies.
There might have been any number of things for David to latch onto, but he picked out a record by Sonny and Cher, 'I Got You Babe.' It was one of those old forty fives with the big hole in the middle and someone had drilled a hole in the record near the title so it couldn’t be resold, but it was obvious to see this was the treasure David wanted to keep. Whatever else was in the bag was quickly discarded, but when we parted after our New York City journey, he was holding the Sonny & Cher record with his finger through the hole to make for easy carrying.
That's what those holes in 45rpm records were for.
We stayed until after noon, riding the rides, eating the junk, and roaming Palisades Park.
“You ready to go?” I asked when I’d had enough.
“Yeah,” David said.
I don’t know if we had duplicate mines or if he merely agreed with whatever I proposed in those days, but whenever I asked if he was ready, he always was. There was a bus that took us back to the city. There weren’t any subway rides to the park. It was quite a scenic ride but I’m sure by this time it’s all houses and shopping areas. Palisades Park closed shortly after David and went there.
Once we were back in the city, we ate at a spaghetti restaurant. You bought the spaghetti by the plate. You went up to where they were cooking it and you said, ‘with meatballs’, ‘with sausage’, ‘with both and more’, or ‘with nothing more’, thank you.
We both got two plates but only half finished the second. I think it was five dollars for both of us and our sodas. The spaghetti was good. I didn’t expect a gourmet meal for a fast food price, but we got more than we paid for and they dropped garlic bread on your table any time they passed and saw the last basket of garlic bread had mysteriously disappeared.
New York City was a trip.
David and I liked drive-in-movies. We usually went once or twice a weekend. We worked together Saturday and if we went to the drive-in Friday night, it was time to go to work by the time we left the drive-in. My truck was loaded and my route half delivered by first light on Saturday. When David ran the milk on Saturday, I was done with the route in three hours. We’d go to breakfast before I took the truck back to Harvey Dairy and I was off until Monday. We'd catch a nap once I dropped the truck off and David was looking in the papers for the movie we'd be going to on Saturday night when I got up.
It was time to get going again.
By late afternoon we went back through the Lincoln Tunnel and we turned on the New Jersey Turnpike.
Four hours later and well after dark, I stopped in front of David's house.
He turned to look at me with those lovely blue eyes.
“I had a good time. Thanks for taking me along. Tomorrow morning at five?” he asked.
“Tomorrow morning at five,” I said.
It was always the hardest part of being with David. We never liked separating after a day was done.
He broke the connection, opening the door, he trotted to the steps that went to his house. I watched until he went up the steps, up on the porch, and he disappeared inside.
In his had was the record, 'I Got You Babe.'
Did he ever.
I never loved anyone as much as I loved David.