Stories and Poems

The Perfect Day

Chapter 1

Coming from a small town is not a bad thing, but it's not really a good thing either.  At least not for me.  I grew up in a place where everyone knows everyone else's business, and they make sure those who don't know it, do.
That's why, as soon as I graduated from high school, I was out of there.  I had taken a placement test for the government the previous Fall when a recruiter came to talk to the seniors about our futures and how Uncle Sam needed bright new faces.  I scored well on the test and was offered a job as an assistant to an assistant at the Department of Agriculture in Washington, DC.   I was headed to not just a big city, but THE BIG CITY, the Capital of the US of A !

So, bags packed and good-byes said, I boarded the southbound train and started my new adventure.
I had a room rented at a Girl's Home in Northwest, only a few blocks from my office building, that I was sharing with 2 other girls who were from small towns like mine.  None of us had ever lived on our own, but both Ruthie and I had been to the city before.  Poor Clarice had not.  What I found a new and exciting experience, she saw as terrifying.  She jumped at her own shadow and nearly walked into buildings in her hurry to get off the streets every time we went anywhere.

Ruthie and I felt bad for Clarice so we dragged her with us whenever we went to a movie or the coffee shop on the corner.  And, after a time, she seemed to relax and have fun.
It was actually Clarice's idea that she, Ruthie and I volunteer at the USO.  I know, what a turnabout for her!  And it was for that very reason  Ruthie and I couldn't say no.  We soon found ourselves spending weekends working as USO Hostesses.  The way I looked at it, we got to dance with good-looking young men, in uniform; and we got free refreshments.

Of course Clarice met a guy.  He was quiet and shy and a sailor.  He seemed to really like Clarice.  So once again, Ruthie and I couldn’t say no when she asked if we would go out with her, Willy and two of his ship mates.

The evening started off on the wrong foot and got worse from there.  Clarice's guy, Willy, wasn't scrawny, but he wasn't really tall either.  But the shipmates he brought with him?  One was about 5-10 and the other was over 6 feet tall!  Who knew sailors were so tall?  How on earth did these guys fit through those round doors on board?  Not that tall guys are bad, but Ruthie was the tallest of us girls at 5 ft 7in.  I was the shortest at 5ft 2 in with Clarice somewhere in the middle. Which made her perfect for Willy.   Not so ideal for Ruthie and I.

We met the guys at the USO where they had saved us a table.  Thank goodness they stood up and held our chairs for us so we could get a good look.  I signaled to Ruthie we needed to meet in the ladies room and off we went.  We decided the fairest way to divy the guys up was by height, so Ruthie took Lonnie, the one over 6ft , and I was going to take Joe.  So, game plan in place we headed back to our table and took seats next to our “dates”.  As USO hostesses we have to dance with service men all night long, even if we are with a date because well, not everyone has a date and most of the guys are only in town for a night or 2 and won't have the time to meet anyone nice.  Ruthie, Clarice and I took turns escorting sailors, pilots and a marine or 2 to the dance floor.  Between dances we spent time with our dates and Willy. Now I always get along with everyone, well apparently  everyone but Joe!   He was such a snob and a total boar!  He was in the Navy because his family was Navy.  He was enlisted because his father insisted he work his way through the rank and file.  He was a pompous ass and I could not stand him.  Sometime during the night I looked over at Ruthie and she looked as miserable as I felt. The only ones who were having fun were Clarice and Willy, which was the whole point of the evening, as I reminded Ruthie as we walked, and Clarice floated, the few blocks home that night.

Ships come and go so it was no surprise when Clarice came in a few weeks later in tears having just learned that Willy was shipping out in a few days.  We tried to reassure her that Willy seemed to really like her.  Ruthie reminded her that there would be a new crop of men in blue to fill in where Willy and his friends left off.  That was definitely not the thing to say.  Clarice spent the weekend moping around since Willy was busy on ship and could not see her.  Ruthie and I stayed in and kept her company- eating chocolates and listening to mystery hour on the radio in our pj's.  So we were very surprised to see Willy standing in the hall with a bouquet of flowers and a box ( large, yeah!) of chocolates.
And even more so when Clarice, in her robe and slippers, with curlers in her hair under her nightcap, came to the door to see him.  By then every door in the hallway was open and girls were peeking out to see what would happen next, and yep, you got it right.  That shy and awkward Willy got down on one knee and slipped a lovely little diamond ring on Clarice's finger, right there in front of the whole population of the 3rd floor!

Clarice said yes.  Willy said he was leaving at 0600 the next morning but would be back in 6 months. They promised to write daily and Clarice promised to have the wedding planned and ready when he came back.  Then Willy was gone, leaving Clarice giddy, happy and sad all at once.

Over the next few months we settled into a routine.  Clarice wrote Willy daily, and Ruthie and I wrote, not quite as often, to Lonnie and Joe.  I know, I said Joe was a boar, and he was, but he was a boar at sea in very uncertain times so... I couldn't very well send him a Dear Joe letter when his best ship-mate was planning to marry my roommate now, could I?  No, and you know darn well so …. Anyway.

Ruthie and I took to reading our letters from Lonnie and Joe to each other now and again and I found that I really liked the things that Lonnie talked about.  He talked about his little sister, and his older brother, who was in the Navy stationed in some place called Viet Nam.  He talked about the little town he grew up in, but said he wanted to stay in the city or someplace real close when he got out of the Navy.  And he wanted a big family with 4 or 5 kids and a little house in one of those new places called the suburbs.  He was smart and funny and had real plans for his life, and he was Ruthie's guy.

Eventually, their ship came in.  Clarice had all the wedding details ready.  All she needed was the groom and his best man.
The ship docked on Thursday morning and shore leave started on Monday.  They got married the following Friday night at 18:00 in the little chapel at Anders Air force Base.  Ruthie and I were bridesmaids and Lonnie and Joe were the best men.  Dinner was followed by dancing and carrying on.  A good time was had by all.  Until it was time to go home.  Lonnie and Joe found out their hotel room hadn't been reserved.  It was too late to get back to the ship, so they came home with me and Ruthie.  We only had 2 beds and they were for Ruthie and me. The guys had to flip for the sofa.  Loser got to sleep on 2 kitchen chairs. And wouldn't you know it?  The tallest one got the kitchen chairs. Ruthie made up the sofa for Joe and I headed into the kitchen to make a pot of coffee for Lonnie.  God knew he wasn't getting any sleep on those darn chairs so I figured coffee might just help.
We stayed up almost all night, just talking and drinking coffee, and finding out that we really liked each other.
I know I should have felt guilty for liking Ruthie's guy, but I didn't.  And he didn't seem too concerned about her either.  I know, bad Connie, but hey things just happen, you know?

As it turns out Ruthie and Joe were more suited to each other. They started seeing each other and Lonnie and I did the same.  Let's just say those kitchen chairs saw their share of long legs clad in a Navy uniform over the next few months.

Clarice and Willy had been married just over 6 months, Christmas was just a month away.  The guys had no immediate orders to ship out.  All 3 couples spent a lot of time together, like the 6 musketeers, I now there were only 3, but you know what I mean.

Thanksgiving Day was cold and crisp. We, Lonnie and I, were meeting Ruthie and Joe for dinner at Clarice and Willy's apartment.  Lonnie and I took the bus and got off a stop early so we could enjoy the beautiful day.  Which it was, with the sun shining through the colorful leaves as they fell from the branches overhead.

Clarice and Willy announced at dinner that they would become parents the next summer. Then Joe stood up and asked Ruthie to marry him. To which she said Yes, of course.  Pie, coffee and football games were finished when we said our good-byes and headed to the bus stop.  Lonnie and I strolled arm in arm, just being, when he suddenly stopped, turned me toward him, looked at me with the most fierce expression on his face and blurted out, “You will Marry Me!”.

I was so shocked I didn't say anything, just stood in the street waiting for my heart to start up again when he shook his head and with a dazed look said, “ I mean, Will you Marry Me?”
“Do you mean it?”, I asked just before launching myself at him and catching him in a bear hug.
“You bet I do”, he sighed as he gathered me close and bent his head to mine.
Forehead to forehead we stood in the street and just gazed into each other's eyes, for about a minute until a car came along , honked at us to move and then splashed dirty gutter water on us as it zoomed by.
Lonnie and I?  We burst out laughing then strolled to the bus stop hand in hand feeling like the happiest people in the world.

Our Wedding was planned for June, while Ruthie and Joe were getting married in April.  It was going to be a rush for them, but with Clarice and I helping we knew we would not only get theirs done, but get mine and Lonnie's taken care of too.
Ruthie and Joe got married in a little chapel in the town she grew up in, just a short drive from the one where Lonnie had grown up.  They moved into the same apartment complex where Clarice and Willy lived.   And in what seemed no time at all it was time for our wedding.

We were married in the church I had attended with my mother as a child.  Ruthie and Clarice were there, but Clarice being 7 months pregnant could not stand as a bridesmaid so my cousin, Trudie stood up for me.
Ruthie wore a rose-colored chiffon dress, while Trudie’s was a cornflower blue.  Both carried small bouquets of baby’s breath and pink roses.
As I stood there in my chiffon and silk strapless gown, with white silk roses embroidered on the over skirt and matching bolero-style jacket with a rhinestone tiara in my hair, I felt like the Fairy Princess that my mother said I looked like.

The ceremony was beautiful, the flowers were the most fragrant flowers ever, and my groom in his dress whites, the most handsome man there.  I could not have been more proud or happier.

It was exactly what I had dreamt. 
He was exactly what I had always wanted.

It was The Perfect Day.

DUE TO AN UNFORTUNATE HARD DRIVE CRASH... Chapters 2 & 3 of this series of short stories was lost ... so until I can rethink them and put them on paper they are lost...