I've never felt more beautiful than I did that night. I was fifteen years old. The annual Christmas party was being held next door to my Grandmother's house. I was excited to get it over with because afterwards I was going to the sock hop, and HE had asked if I would be there.
He was the new guy at school. Dark hair, dark eyes and a bit of a bad boy flair. We didn't have new students often. It was a mystery why anyone would move to our little no-news town. The hype about this new handsome stranger was building. And he had asked about me! What a dramatic twist of high school fortune for an alluring Junior to notice just a regular Freshman like me. I didn't consider myself popular, I assumed I blended in most of the time. How had he even seen me?
I had been floating since I got the call from my best friend Andrea with the news. We both knew that putting in an appearance next door was an essential prelude to the main event. The glory and hope of being admired transformed the previously boring Holiday meet-and-greet into a magical experience. The air was crisp with the smell of fresh pine centerpieces. Crystal serving dishes glistened like new fallen snow against the white buffet table cloth. The decadent smell of heavy hours d'oeuvres filled the air as I greeted the two silver-haired hostesses with a smile that felt brighter than usual. Their home was impeccably decorated each year, but I was never so captivated by their Christmas tree. The one in the front window of Macy's paled in comparison.
Glass punch cup in hand, I noticed my grandparents' contemporaries and other community figures might not be so stodgy after all. Even Mrs. Ames the Avon lady seemed particularly charming this evening. I quickly made my way across the room when I saw Andrea's big anticipating smile by the china press in the corner. We'd been taught that mannerly young ladies did not clump to themselves at social events, but we took a moment for giddy giggles about the dance and the fact that Mr. Moye wore the red plaid pants again this year.
After a few more polite interchanges, it was time to make our getaway. Exhilaration coursed through my veins as Andrea and I trudged arm-in-arm across the backyards to my Grandmother's side portico door.
I felt like a glamorous movie star sitting in front of Grandmother's dark cherry antique vanity. She wouldn't know we'd poofed and powdered in this sacred prominent place. Since early childhood, I'd been enamored with the mirrored tray that showcased rich red lipstick, an elegant compact and the most alluring bottle of perfume I'd ever seen. Womanhood beckoned me into the aura of the feminine mystique. I dare not try the lipstick, it might make me look eager, like the older girls who would end up in back seats before night's end.
But I could not resist the pull to the perfume... Acqua Di Parma. Whatever it means, it sounded divine and smelled even better. I sprayed the fine mist just ahead of me and sauntered through it. Just a subtle suggestion that I wouldn't be fifteen forever. Perfect!
Taffeta cocktail dressed in a pile behind us, we headed off to the hop in our best fitting jeans.
Through a maze of social greetings vastly different than the Christmas party, I eventually found my way to his extended hand. Not in front of him, thumb up like an invitation to shake hands. But lower and to the side, thumb down, palm back, as if to say 'come with me'. I caught my breath at the sight of him. Black hair so dark it was almost midnight blue, his eyes sparkled from beneath the longest eyelashes I'd ever seen. Then I was in his arms on the dance floor. The world around us faded into a haze and there was only the soft cotton of his t-shirt that occasionally brushed my cheek. My jittery right hand detected a definite rippling contour along his shoulder that told of strength and vigor. I'd heard the word ecstasy once in a movie and I wasn't sure exactly what it meant, but I thought this must be it.
The only words that passed between us that night were whispered toward my ear just before the slow song ended and I was whisked off to the bathroom with the girls to squeal, he said,
"You smell really nice."