At the Junior High Mixer

Noreen kept chattering and her arms were trembling.

“Then my leotard got two holes in it, one in a really bad place, so my mother finally said ‘forget ballet, teach her something easy.’ The foxtrot. That I definitely learned. But you didn’t, I mean not exactly, because isn’t it supposed to go slow, slow, quick, quick?”

I had no idea why she seemed scared, because I wasn’t exactly a scary guy.

Could I deal with a girl who shook when I danced with her? Showing concern − like “You upset about something?” − was decades away.

That’s how my first romance seized up and stalled. There’d be more.

Noreen’s Graduation Pic