My first love happened in paradise. Ramey Air Force Base High School on the sun-kissed island of Puerto Rico. Complete with a beach within walking distance, an Officer’s Club garden filled with Saturday night moonlight and tropical plants. And an invincible football team–the Ramey Bombers–on which my Prince Charming was a rough ‘n ready linebacker.
My beloved had brown eyes, a slightly crooked grin, prominent eye teeth that he called his “fangs,” and a little overhang of brown hair always dipping over his forehead. The year was 1965. We were both seventeen.
There are plenty of romantic memories from that year I could choose from. Eyes locked for an entire Righteous Brothers song over a table at the local hamburger joint. A prom night that made me feel like a Hollywood starlet in my long white formal, with my leading man in his summer tux. The Senior play in which he had a starring role and I was the cue girl.
But of all the first-love moments we experienced that golden year, one of my favorites isn’t romantic. It’s funny.
Prince Charming and I were headed across a soggy open field on our way to the base BX, and in my youthful exuberance I was leaping over puddles in my flared skirt like a graceful young gazelle. First one puddle, then another– with him sauntering behind me, pretty amused I’m sure.
Suddenly, I heard uncontrollable laughter coming from his direction. I stopped my puddle-jumping and turned around to see my boyfriend bent over, holding his stomach. I asked him what was so funny. He stopped laughing long enough to spit out, “Red and white stripes!”
He’d caught a glimpse of my red and white-striped pettipants. Pettipants were a short-lived undergarment of the 60s, like fitted pantaloons, that came almost to your knees. They took the place of a slip. Innocently oblivious, I was flashing them as I leapt!
Eventually, he stopped laughing and I stopped leaping and we continued on our way.
A few months later, the class of ’65 graduated and Prince Charming and I went on to separate colleges in the states. New loves eventually claimed our young hearts, and the pettipants went the way of the dinosaur.
But I’ll never forget that golden year in paradise nearly fifty years ago and the sound of my first love’s laughter as I soared over those puddles!