General Fiction posted July 6, 2014 Chapters:  ...52 53 -54- 55... 

This work has reached the exceptional level
Karen is asked out on a date

A chapter in the book Enough to Miss Christmas

Stanley's Stammer

by Fridayauthor

Both Sarah and stepdaughter are seeing Dr. Mason over mother issues. At home, their family continues to adjust to their new situation.
     I looked forward to talking to Karen after school. I hoped she’d put the missed babysitting incident behind her, where it belonged, but she seemed moody. She immediately went to her room, presumably to update her diary.
     “What’s a matter?” I asked later as she helped me prepare dinner. “You’re not mad about last night, are you?”
     “No. You guys were fair. I deserved worse.”
     “So what’s the problem?”
     “There was a question I was going to ask you and Dad but I messed up so badly yesterday I know you’ll say no.”
     I took her by the shoulders. “Karen yesterday is over. Clean slate. That’s how it works. Now, ask whatever you want; we may say yes or no, but it has nothing to do with the past. Understood?” She nodded. “What’s your question?”
     “Maybe I’ll wait for the love chair later, okay?” I agreed, but waiting through dinner drove me crazy.
     Later, with Paul watching the news downstairs, the two of us snuggled in our conversation seat.
     “This boy asked me to go to the movies with him. I told him I’d let him know.”
     I figured we had a year or two before this dreaded topic would be an issue. A mountain to climb and we’d barely gotten out of the jungle. Think, Sarah. Don’t screw this up.
     “I’d have to ask your father,” I answered.
     “I know but I’m nearly a teenager. What do you think? Would have Grandma let you date at my age?”
     “Whoa! I’m not going to tell you that because after your father and I discuss it, I don’t want you thinking we don’t agree. Fair?” She nodded. “Now, before I ask him, I need to know the whole story, the whole book. This is new territory for me . . . for us. Do you like this boy . . . this young man?”
     “I guess. I don’t really know him. He’s very shy. Julie says he told her friend Tony he likes me. He looks at me a lot. I catch him glancing but he looks away.”
     “Any boy who doesn’t look at you is either as blind as a mole with cataracts or crazy. You’re a gorgeous knock out.”
     “Sarah! Be serious!”
     “I am. Tell me, do your friends date?”
     “Tony comes over to Julie’s house for dinner and stuff, but I don’t think they’ve gone out, like on a date. Anne doesn’t have anyone, at least not yet.” Karen named two older soccer friends who had boyfriends.
     “Where would you go?”
     She shrugged. “He didn’t say. He barely managed to ask me.”
     “The movies at the mall I suppose. Someone would have to drive you.” I mourned the loss of the old walk-to in-town theaters of my youth. Historic register candidates.
     “The mall, I guess. But if you ask Dad, can you do it soon? I don’t want to wait overnight for an answer.”
     I agreed and left after a hug, to confront a protective father.
     “What’s up?” were his first words. When I explained, there followed a resounding, no way!
     “I agree she’s probably too young, but I think this may be an opportunity,” I said, trying to keep the discussion alive.
     “An opportunity for whom?  Some little thug to put a notch in his gun?  I thought this stuff wouldn’t come up until she was sixteen or seventeen, at least.”
     In spite of Paul’s first reaction, we managed to discuss the situation logically and thoroughly. It took us a half hour before we settled on a compromise of sorts, one that would gain us more points than an arbitrary denial.
     “After all,” I said, “she came to us and asked. Karen didn’t go sneaking off to meet someone. She deserves credit and we owe her a chance to show us her level of responsibility while we demonstrate that we trust her judgment.”
     “I trust her. It’s the slug who’s after her I’m worried about.” But he agreed to meet the boy, and if he passed the muster, we’d consider driving the young couple to and from an age appropriate movie.
     “The movie might be the toughest part,” I said. “Until she’s thirteen, there isn’t much she can see that isn’t a cartoon with adorable animals.” I didn’t describe the more adult movies I’d taken Karen to see, even a couple of R rated ones.
     I was tickled pink with our mother-father decision and immediately sought Karen out to convey the news. She was as nervous as a tick on a fry pan, biting her finger nails bloody.
     “Stop that chewing business,” I said. “I’ll make you do twenty pushups.”
     “What did he say?” she begged, ignoring my comment.
     “You mean what did we say?”
     “Like, yeah.”
     I explained our compromise. She feigned a hint of disappointment but I knew she’d expected an out and out turn-down. She was thrilled.
     “What’s the lucky boy’s name?” I asked.
     “Stanley,” she exclaimed as she gave me a hug and ran to thank her father.
     I thought I was finished for the evening but later she came to the room. After closing the door, she plunked into the love chair.
     “More questions?” I asked, joining her.
     “What should I let Stanley do?” she asked.
     “No, I don’t mean it like that! Should I let him hold my hand, or put his arm around me? I don’t know any of that stuff. I don’t want to seem stupid and ask my friends. I guess I could look around and see what other kids are doing.”
     “No, that’s not the best move. You should follow what you feel like doing, within reason,” I added. “If you think it would be nice to hold his hand and he offers, go for it. Just because some other guys are smooching it up and stuff is no reason for you to play copycat. You call the shots. He doesn’t do anything without your complete permission. Remember. It’s the first date. No need to rush things.”
     “Thank you,” she answered but made no move to leave.
     “More questions?”
     “Different topic.”
     “Go for it. Honesty pact?”
     “No. More like an opinion on something. You tell me things and I really appreciate it. You give me a lot of slack too. None of my friends have that. I don’t tell them because I’m not sure they’d understand; no, I’m sure they wouldn’t.”
     “Thank you. So, what’s the problem?”
     “Anne. Her parents are really strict and religious, but I don’t think they tell her anything. She said something at school that made me think about the time I heard the F word and didn’t know what it meant until you told me. Anne is my friend and I like her a lot. I don’t want to see her hurt and have kids make fun of her. Do you think it would be okay if I told her some of the private stuff you told me?”
     “I don’t have a problem with that, and it’s very kind of you to want to help your friend. I caution privacy; just you and Anne. I trust you to explain things carefully. A lot of what I told you is very private and sensitive. I know you’re mature enough to understand it, but I don’t know Anne that well.”
     “I won’t tell her all of what you tell me or where I heard it.”
     As long as I had a captive audience, I asked a question. “My turn. Do you and your friends talk about losing your virginity?”
     “Honesty. I’m not prying; I’m just curious.”
     “Nosy is more like it.” I laughed and agreed. “You won’t make fun, if I tell you?” she asked.
     “Of course not.”
     “Yes, we talk about it. Anne is definitely going to wait until she is married. Monica says she’d be scared to do it unless she was sure she couldn’t get pregnant but she doesn’t know enough about how not to. She asked her mother about birth control, but her mom had a fit and wouldn’t answer. Pepper doesn’t have anyone she wants to do it with; she says she’ll worry about going all the way when the time comes. Barbara won’t even talk about sex, but she has a steady and everyone wonders if she’s already you-know-what-ing with him. Julie wants it to be on like a beautiful beach, and everything perfect and a movie star-type guy who loves her like crazy.”
     “What does Karen say?” I asked.
     “I know what you want me to say; that I should be like Anne and save myself for the man of my dreams, on our wedding night, when I’m like thirty.”
     “Not at all.”
     “Do you know what losing your virginity means?”
     “Sure. Letting a boy do it to you; have sex.” I recalled how cover-her-face embarrassed Karen had been saying those words, just a few weeks earlier.
     “It’s having sex, for the first time. It only happens once and it should be a very important event; a very special happening with someone superior. It will never happen again. My only suggestion is to be mature about it and not trivialize making love, as if it’s something everyone is doing so you might as well hop on the bus with them and do it too. It all too often happens because the guy keeps pestering you, and you finally give in. But that’s not right either. It should happen with two mature people who both feel the same about each other; a person who realizes the importance of the act as much as you. You shouldn’t lose your virginity the way I did by meaninglessly giving it away to a virtual stranger.”
     She popped up and left the room. “I have to put some stuff in my diary,” she said as she dashed out the door. She’d never answered my last question.
     All our anguish and compromise over Karen’s first date was for naught. The next afternoon we learned Stanley’s offer was withdrawn before Karen could respond. His parents thought he was too young to date.

Earned A Seal Of Quality

Enough to Miss Christmas is a family love story, about sisters, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, parents and children. Foremost, it tells the story of a stepmom and a precocious young lady and how they bond in spite of overwhelming odds.
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