Nerds in Love

It started via the high-school equivalent of the jungle telegraph. Remember? You’d tell a friend that you liked somebody, and they’d tell a friend, and eventually it would get back to the somebody. A few jumps in the other direction, and you’d find out if the somebody liked you back. This method had its disadvantages, of course. Sometimes the somebody wanted nothing to do with you, which could get you a highly public rejection. But it could also make the mating process a lot easier, particularly for a shy person—when the time came for the actual asking-out, it was a mere formality, the rubber stamp on a transaction that had already been made. In early 1975, I had trusted to the jungle telegraph my interest in a particular girl, and by early February, the signs were good. On Valentine’s Day, we got around to the asking.

After that, we were officially “going together.” (Oddly, people I knew didn’t seem to go on individual dates much at that time—they tended to jump straight into exclusive relationships.) We saw each other every day at school, but we conducted most of our relationship over the phone—marathon calls during which we’d watch TV together, for example. (At least once, a neighbor on the party line picked up, heard us talking, knew from experience that we’d be on a while, and asked us if we could get off so she could make a call.) It was as sweet and silly as 15-year-old romance can be—and neither of us was 15 yet when it started.

But it was also one of the more chaste relationships in the history of teenagers. Our first kiss wasn’t until April. We were both members of the library club, and several of us had gone to some sort of conference at a nearby college, where we stayed overnight in a dorm. She and I found ourselves alone in a dorm lounge late that night, and it happened. It was not a hormonally driven assault on a somewhat-willing target; it was, in fact, as magical as you’d like your first kiss to be.

A handful of songs bring that winter and spring back in memory—Frankie Valli’s “My Eyes Adored You” (“though I never laid a hand on you”), ELO’s “Can’t Get it Out of My Head” (“in dreams the world keeps going ’round and ’round”), Neil Sedaka’s “Laughter in the Rain” (“how I love the rainy days and the happy way I feel inside”) and even Sugarloaf’s “Don’t Call Us We’ll Call You”—too goofy to be “our song,” but one we both liked.

There was more kissing after that first night, of course. Because we were both library nerds, it was easy to contrive to be in the library after school—and although it would never happen now, we were allowed to stay in the library even after the adult staff had gone home. We were ostensibly “working,” reshelving books and whatnot, but we’d more often spend our time in a clinch somewhere in the stacks. Those opportunities were fleeting, though. After school got out in June, we were back on the phone. Since I lived out in the country and this was a year before driver’s ed, it would be several weeks before we actually saw one another again.

But time has drawn a curtain over the romantic events of the summer of 1975. All I know today is that by sometime that fall, we weren’t together anymore.

Here’s what I suspect is not an official video for “Don’t Call Us We’ll Call You,” but I like it anyhow:

One response

  1. I’ve read this a few times now, and it keeps getting better and better. Nicely done.

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