Johnny and I didn’t date each other once in high school. That full body “kissing/hugging” session on Halloween in 8th grade was it.
From ninth grade on, we were always dating other people. Event though there was a strong connection between us…we never seemed to get together to actually go out on a real boy/girl date.
But during our four years in high school, we shared many classes, activities and lunch hours.
We became fearsome fast friends…talking on the phone almost every night…many times complaining about the girl or guy we were currently dating.
When we got older and had access to cars, we would meet at Ralph’s…the only drug store in Bloomington that still served Lime Phosphates…we were both huge fans.
Our friendship grew even if our love life didn’t.
Johnny was bat-shit smart but hated to study or take notes or pay attention in class.
I would often see him looking out the window at something he found way more fascinating than what the teacher was saying.
But I did study. And I did take notes…and I easily and with no conscience slipped my very best friend copies of my notes for tests.
Many hours were spent studying together…that is…when I could get him to stop talking to my parents…who adored him…and come into my bedroom where we could study.
But even that was hard. Johnny would always flop on my bed and gaze up at the twinkle lights I had hung from my ceiling.
“Turn off all the lights, Riley. I want to see the stars.”
I never argued. It was no use. Our study sessions always began with us laying side by side on my bed…looking up at “the stars” in total darkness.
Then we would talk…about anything and everything…as long as it did not have anything to do with algorithms or cell structure. Maybe later…we would study.
Sometimes I had to take his face in my hands and make him look at me, to get him to pay attention and listen to what I was trying to say to him.
He would smile and say, “Tinka. You have the prettiest eyes.”
Tinka was his pet name for me…I had no idea why…but Johnny said, “One day, Tinka, I will tell you…”
And then he would try to kiss me and of course I was always dating someone else so I would laugh and push him away. But sometimes…sometimes I wouldn’t always want to…
“Johnny!!! Pay Attention!! Do you want to graduate with honors or not? Your dad will kill you if you don’t…you now that, don’t you?”
And then, and only then, would he listen…at least for a little while.
He was very careful about what his father thought of him. It was so important for Johnny to impress him. I don’t think his father ever knew that…