Thursday, October 07, 2010

The perfect date movie!!

Here's another except from the book I'm writing on growing up in the 60s in Southern California. A million memories -- three or four not painful.

February brought with it my birthday. I turned 16. This is a bigger milestone for girls. Guys do not have Sweet Sixteen parties. But they do get their driver’s licenses!

Unless they fail the test. Happy birthday to me.


Parallel parking is what did me in. And almost hitting a guy. But more the parallel parking. I happen to have poor depth perception. I’ve learned to compensate but at the time getting into parking spaces or making turns were problematic. And it didn’t help that I took the test in my father’s Chevy Impala, a car that dwarfed the Batmobile.

So for several weeks I had to wait to re-take it and endure the humiliation of friends asking, “So how did it go?

But this time I wasn’t going to leave anything to chance. First, I would take the test in my mother’s 1960 Mercury Comet (a car that could fit in the Impala’s glove compartment). I planned on re-taking the test on a Monday so the day before I went to the DMV and practiced parallel parking. The test curb was checkerboarded so I figured out that when the left fin reached the second black square turn the wheel until I saw it line up with the fourth white square, etc.

It worked! Come Monday Dale Unser couldn’t have maneuvered into that space as well as me. That, coupled with the lack of pedestrians on my bumper I finally secured my coveted driver’s license.

Which meant I finally went out on a real first date. I asked Marcy Loudon. My criteria: they had to be pretty and they had to be sweet enough to dump me gently. Marcy said yes and that Saturday night I took her to the Corbin Theater on Ventura Blvd. to see one of the great date movies of all-time, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.

My plan was to put my arm around her about halfway into the film. It was tough though finding just that right moment in the rape trial. I think I got up the courage and draped my arm around her just as Tom is shot to death while trying to escape from jail.

For a nightcap I took Marcy to Farrell’s Ice Cream parlor where we discussed the differences between the movie and the book and I had her home by midnight.

All girls had curfews then. Midnight was standard. The penalty for violation was usually grounding. Grounding was actually an effective deterrent back then – at least for the girls I dated. I’m sure my classmate who slept with her brother didn’t give a shit if she couldn’t go to the Spring Sing. But the girls I went out with always insisted on being home by twelve. And I choose to believe it’s because of that severe penalty.

23 comments:

Troy said...

Here's how you could have impressed her during the movie:

"You know, Marcy, I think that guy playing Boo Radley is going to be BIG someday."

Of course, the payoff would have taken a decade or so...

Mac said...

Excellent. My sister tried to gently refuse a date with a whopping great lie, ie: she'd love to, but our Mum wouldn't allow it. The guy turned up on our doorstep in his best suit, hair slicked into a side-parting, bunch of flowers etc. My Mum was enchanted by this charming young man and insisted that my sister accompany him on a date.
The guy thought he'd "won round" my Mum, who up until then had no idea that he existed. My sister had no escape route, and went off on her date looking murderous. I thought if he's found dead with a stilletto heel buried in his head, it won't take Columbo to figure out what's happened. Looking forward to your book.

John said...

My parents first date was "Judgment at Nuremberg." I'm always been amazed that worked out.

Anonymous said...

Nothing to add except... Farrell's. Haven't heard that name in a while. On date nights, we always ended there--with our dates if it was going well, and to meet up with friends if it wasn't.

Bruce said...

I can't resist..."I choose to belief"!?!? Come on, Ken, you're a writer for crissakes!

KEN LEVINE said...

Wow. A typo. Thanks Bruce. You saved the piece.

Jon88 said...

Al Unser and Dale Earnhardt would like you to know that they never had a child.

Tom Quigley said...

Wow! Quite a heady movie to be taking a date to at age 16, unless of course, you had read the book first. Damn the car, you must have been hoping to impress her with your mind, Ken.

Taking into consideration my level of maturity at age 16, I probably would have opted for VOYAGE TO THE PLANET OF PREHISTORIC WOMEN, and ended up having my date's father take us to the theater -- and sit with us.... Sit between us, as a matter of fact...

Bruce said...

Sorry Ken, I miscalculated the size of your ego.

rockgolf said...

My first date with the future Mrs Rockgolf was "Broadcast News". I seen it and remembered the comedy, forgot about the date-rape sub-plot...

benson said...

The future ex mrs. benson and I saw either Carrie or Psycho in a cinema class at ol' SIU. no kidding.

But the first part of your post, Ken, really struck a chord. In Michigan, a parent has to ride in the back seat quietly while Junior takes the road test. And if you say a word, the kid automatically fails. Well, junior was about to go head-on at an intersection, so I called out his name...

He got his license the following week. And drives a bit like a maniac now. Oh, well.

iain said...

My first movie with the futire wife was "Poltergiest," because nobody creates a romantic mood like Toby Hooper.

& no, Bruce, you miscalculated the fact that spelling nazis are right up there with people who post "FIRST!" on someone's blog.

Matt Tauber said...

I miss Farrell's! We had one here in Cincinnati during my childhood. Going there for your birthday was a tradition, followed by going next door to the toy store Children's Palace (both gone 25+ years now).

btw, I'm not sure it was their very first date, but early on my parents did go see 'Psycho'.

RCP said...

Congratulations on your ingenuity in mastering parallel parking!

We also had an Impala - the 1961 version that included the needle-sharp pointy tailights.

Ref said...

Love the Boo Radley quote, Troy. I've used that one to kill in trivia contests for years.

Ref said...

Love the Boo Radley quote, Troy. I've used that one to kill in trivia contests for years.

Mike Fleming said...

Regarding Farrell's Ice Cream Parlours and your date night, I am happy to say that my company is bringing Farrell's back. We have locations in Mission Viejo, Ca, Santa Clarita, Ca and coming soon, Torrance! Visit FarrellsUSA.com. Love to have you as my guest Ken. Contact me.
Michael Fleming
CEO
Parlour Enterprises Inc
PS Check out our Farrells Facebook page. 200,000 fans and counting!

Gary said...

It's fun to work at Farrell's! Well, it was at age 16. Some funny first-date movies here, but Psycho has to be the top one.
Took my driver's test with a 1960 Pontiac Safari wagon. At 18 I was on the Me Kong Delta, piloting a boat with the same handling characteristics as that Pontiac.
Funny stuff, Ken, when's the book coming???

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

No wonder you didn't get your arm around her during the escape scene. I recall it happened off screen. Or do I disremember?

My hick town had two guys who gave driving tests. One was a middle-aged, fair man; the other was a nasty old bastard that ALWAYS failed teenagers. Guess which one I got.

Ron said...

I wish they'd bring back Wil Wright's Ice Cream Parlors and Blum's.

rockfish said...

So which car did you take her on the date? I only ask because i had a '64 impala and had my first drive-in date in '79 with Sherri Z... took her to Thank God it's Friday but across that enormous bench seat there was no chance of a reach-around without a running start and seriously dislocating my shoulder. Both of us were sweet 16, me more virginal than most of the girls i oggled. I still like to think it was the movie that made Sherri come out later in life but me delivering on no expectations couldn't have helped.
I still have donna summer flopsweat whenever i see a disco ball...

Baylink said...

I also took my test in a borrowed Comet.

It stalled *17 times*, by actual count, between the parking space in front of the office, and the practice spaces in the back.

I'm pretty sure I got my license out of pity.

Paul Duca said...

Over at the ReelRadio Repository there is a video of an episode of the dance show the Reel Don Steele hosted on Los Angeles TV. It's from 1974, and it has a commercial for Farrell's Ice Cream Parlor.

When I saw it, I had an question answered. Around this time, THE BOB NEWHART SHOW aired an episode where Bob's divorced neighbor Howard got engaged to Bob's sister, and they wanted to tell Howard's son. So they took him to "Uncle Yummy's Ice Cream Parlor"--a place where the waiters wore straw hats and humorously taunted the customers as they dealt with the fantastical ice cream creations they offered.
I decided that Farrell's had to be the inspiration for that.


P.S. A young John Ritter was their waiter.

W.V. tanen--one of the suits at Universal