By Larry Schwirian
Her name was Audrey, and she was the new girl in school in the fall of 1952. She had long, black, wavy hair, big brown eyes, and blemish-free olive skin. Wearing a sleeveless, bright colored dress, she wasn’t built like Sophia Loren or Gina Lollobridida, but, then, she was only eight years old. I was instantly smitten, and she hadn’t yet spoken a word or looked my way.
Audrey was anxious to make new friends, and I was anxious to be the first in line. Soon after, she invited me to have dinner with her and her parents at her home. One of the most unforgettable experiences of my youth was playing spin-the-bottle with her in her living room while her mother prepared an exotic Italian meal. I used the word “exotic” because my familiarity with Italian food was limited to spaghetti. I had no idea what her mother was cooking, but it smelled great, and I wasn’t really there for the dinner anyway, even though I did enjoy the food. Altogether, it was a very memorable afternoon. I got my first kiss from Audrey and will never forget the aromas emanating from that kitchen.
My budding romance with Audrey came to an abrupt halt only a few weeks later when my teacher caught in the coat room hiding a love note in Audrey’s coat pocket. Miss Weigle (which was, of course, pronounced “wiggle” by most) made me stand in front of the class and read the note out loud. Needless to say, it was an earth-shattering experience for me, and I am sure Audrey was equally embarrassed. It didn’t kill my ardor for her, but it definitely put a damper on our evolving relationship. It would be another five years before I had the courage to admit to others that I had romantic feelings for a member of the opposite sex. In our senior year of high school, she was selected by her peers to be homecoming queen and the most popular female in our class.
I have since learned never to write anything down that I would be embarrassed to have read out loud in front of other people.
Architect Larry and his fellow architect wife Caroline live in an historic preservation home in Newton and, together, lead BOLLI courses on architecture. Larry has been an active participant in and leader of the Writers Guild special interest group as well as serving on the BOLLI Journal staff.