Double Dating With The Parents - Version Alpha
Chapters : 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | Epilogue
found Bob Thurlow's number on a list somebody
had put together of the volunteers who comprised the Boggy Creek
Project. She remembered who he was. They had even worked side by side
she couldn't remember saying more than a few words to him. Based on the
the Thurlows still had a land line. She was mildly surprised, but then
she was calling them on one herself.
residence," announced a girl's
voice when the phone was picked up. Karen's initial impression was
remembered answering the family phone like that herself, years ago.
Thurlow, please," she said.
heard the girl call out, "Daaaad. It's for
you!" and then the voice came back on the phone. "He'll be right with
That was good. Karen's mood improved.
is Bob," said a deep, male voice.
she said. "This is Karen Ross. From
the Boggy Creek volunteers?"
Hi! I'll be there."
where?" she asked.
he said. "We're working
Saturday ... right?"
but the reason I was calling is that Jack
is my son. I believe your daughter asked him out on a date."
That," he said. "Uh ... I wasn't
aware she'd actually asked him yet."
told me she did. And that you were going to
that's what Amanda and I talked about. I
didn't think things would progress this quickly."
it appears they have," said Karen. "I
wanted to talk to you about this before it happens."
fine with that," he said. "How
about Saturday? I don't know what's planned, but maybe we can work
intent had been to talk right then. That's why
she'd called. But face to face might be better.
sounds good to me," she said.
I'll see you then."
was it. It was a tentative first discussion about
something unrelated to the only thing they had in common, thus far. And
odd to both of them. Not that they hadn't talked to a member of the
sex that way before. Karen talked to men most of every day. And most of
peers at school were women. But those kinds of conversations were
usually professional in nature. True, some of her customers flirted with her,
occasionally, but to Karen that was just part of her job. It made it a
easier, in fact, to increase the original sale, sometimes.
this conversation, and the one they'd engage in on
Saturday, was of a more personal nature. Their children were involved,
made things more intimate right off the bat. Different emotions and
were involved. Each had hopes and dreams for their child, and now, the
was becoming involved in those hopes and dreams, even if only on the
the kids, it was the agony of having to wait, to
delay gratification, as each asked his or her parent what the status of
new activity was, and were told that it wouldn't be negotiated until
that meant that the date couldn't take place this weekend, as both had
kids made sure their parent was up and about
Saturday morning, and wouldn't be late to get to the thing that, prior
neither child had been concerned with at all.
looked over as the door opened and Karen Ross
walked in. She was dressed in a checkered shirt, jeans and ankle high
volunteers had learned a long time ago not to wear tennis shoes when
the creek. The sucking mud pulled them off of feet as if it had
noticed Karen before, but hadn't given much
thought to her other than to appreciate her sultry looks. He'd assumed
married, though no "Mr. Ross" had ever come with her on a work day. She
was pretty in a plain kind of way, the way beautiful women look without
on. Her hair was pulled back into a long pony tail. She had a strong
high cheekbones. It made her look like she might have some Indian blood
His eyes slid down to her chest, where twin points held the shirt away
body six or eight inches. His eyes dipped, to take in rounded hips. He
tell about her waist, because the shirt hid that. He looked back up to
staring right at him. Busted! She started toward him.
Thurlow," she said, approaching him.
he said, automatically.
she said, almost patiently. He
expected her to say something about him ogling her, but that didn't
was direct, though.
me if I don't exhibit excitement about
my son entering that phase of his life that is being around girls in a
makes two of us," he said. "I
know it's not realistic, but I hoped Mandy wouldn't get interested in
until she was, oh, I don't know, twenty, maybe?"
father felt the same way," said Karen. What
made her feel conflicted was that at times, she wished she'd listened
stop progress, I guess," he said.
understand you're going to chaperone
what I told her was that I wanted to
be there on her first few dates to make sure things got started off
controls in place. I also told her that
I have a policy of not allowing my daughter to ride in a car with a
until I've gone along a few times to see how he drives."
doesn't drive yet," said Karen. "He
won't get that until next summer, after Driver's Ed. I can't afford the
insurance until he passes that class."
I guess I'll be driving them around,"
said Bob. "Assuming that's okay with you."
happened next was the result of Karen's ongoing
evaluation of Bob Thurlow. All her impressions were positive, thus far.
erudite, and polite, and seemed to have good values. She could
concern. Girls were generally the ones who faced the most risk in a
situation. Not that she would allow Jack to try to pull some of the
knew boys tried to pull. She'd make sure of that! But parents of girls
worried more about dating than parents of boys.
only down side thus far was that, because she was impressed
with this man, her
subconscious snuck up on her and alerted her to the fact that he was
handsome. As he had assumed she was married, she made the same
she thought of that, she pushed his attractiveness back. The father
expect a boy to be a boy, but a girl's mother would not. Because of
was curious as to why he hadn't included her in the chaperone part of
does your wife feel about this?" she
not married," said Bob. He rarely
trotted out the story of his dead wife. That was private.
I'm sorry," said Karen.
would you be sorry that I'm not
married?" asked Bob. Amanda had gotten her literal senses honestly. Bob
viewed things literally himself, sometimes.
not what I meant," she said, flustered,
her cheeks turning pink. "I was married, but not anymore. It didn't end
well. When you said you weren't married, I thought of that. Really, I'm
didn't mean anything by it."
you're a single parent too?" asked Bob.
else we have in common."
She still felt the heat in her
cheeks. "So ... I guess that's part of why this is so difficult. I have
husband to talk to my son about how to behave, and you have no wife to
same with your daughter. It's ... difficult. I guess I just wasn't
and me, both," said Bob. "But I
remember being that age, and how exciting all that was."
was so excited at being invited on a date
that the fact you were going to be there with them didn't bother him at
be honest, it was actually Amanda's idea that
I be their chaperone. I think that was to box me in, but she didn't
mind at all
when I jumped right on that band wagon." admitted Bob. "I expanded it
to 'the first few dates' and she didn't bat an eye. That's how badly
to do this."
do feel better knowing an adult will be with
them, at least initially," she said.
had been evaluating Karen too. The fact that she
wasn't married put her into a different category than she'd been in
hadn't explored that category of woman for years, and hadn't planned to
now he found himself to be interested.
if we both chaperoned them?" he suggested.
blinked. "At the same time?"
course," he said, smiling again.
had a nice smile. And such dark, brown eyes. Suddenly,
Karen felt her nipples crinkle in the cups of her bra. It was shocking,
electrifying. She hadn't been attracted to a man like this in a long,
sort of double date," she said.
hadn't thought of it that way, but the idea of it
appealed to him.
he said. "A double date, where
we can teach them the dos and don'ts of dating."
like that," said Karen.
talk to Amanda," he said.
I'll talk to Jack," she responded.
didn't have a chance to say any more, because
Phil Solistra, the president of the organization, announced loudly it
to get to work, and shooed everyone out of the building.
first date was, indeed, a bowling date. There was
much excitement as the participants all got ready. In a way, the
were quite similar.
the kids, they were heading into the unknown. Their
primary desire was for the other person to like them. Kids want to be
and their greatest fear is that they won't be.
and Karen, of course, had been on lots of dates. They'd
both been in serious relationships. They'd both suffered the pain of
though it was different kinds of loss. And yet, in an odd way, they
same thing their children did. She hoped he'd like her, and he hoped
him. Everyone wants to be liked.
Another shared quality was that nobody was thinking long term. The kids didn't anticipate becoming high school sweethearts who would stay together forever. The adults had no intent to cultivate a serious relationship. All of them were looking for short term gratification.
there were differences as well.
The kids hoped they'd get to explore some intimacy. Not much. "Intimacy" was still a hazy concept, to them. Maybe there might be some hand holding, and possibly even a kiss, though that left them both feeling a little upset. Neither of them had done much kissing, none outside a family setting in fact, and were worried that, if a kiss did happen, they'd do it wrong.
The adults had no intent for any kind for intimacy other than simple platonic ease to enter their relationship. They did not, in fact, assume any "relationship" would ensue from this double date they were going on. After all, the primary reason they were going out together at all was to chaperone the young ones.
kids had high anticipation that this would be the
best night of their young lives. Kids are like that. Everything they
experience, at least that they like, is "the best." They have a whole
string of "best" friends. Each good movie they see is the
"best". New foods are temporarily given "best" status, and
each party they go to is better than all the rest. It's just a product
evaluating new things. But kids are aware
that there are "worst" things too, and their unconscious fear was
that this might turn out to be one of those situations. Their biggest
that they'd do something stupid, embarrass themselves, and ruin
adults were wary. Each had enough life experience
to know that things might not go all that well. It might be boring,
to be endured, while the kids started navigating this kind of social
interaction. The only thing worse would be if the kids didn't like each
of them knew that they were all wrong. And they
were wrong about almost everything, as it would turn out.
had taken Amanda bowling half a dozen times, as
she was growing up. It was something they could do together which
hours and hours. Not that he avoided spending hours and hours with her.
going bowling didn't completely consume their time like, say, camping
had been on too tight a budget to expose Jack to
what she considered luxuries, such as bowling, movies, and the like. At
not frequently. Instead, she and Jack had played board games, and made
games, such as reading to each other from the dictionary. She'd been
a girl, but that had been a long time ago.
the Thurlows assumed the roles of teachers. Together,
they explained the scoring system. It was done automatically, and the
appeared on a big screen above their alley, but at least Jack
understood why it
looked like it did, as things progressed. Amanda took Jack to find a
showed him how to approach the foul line and swing the ball. She didn't
it. When he tried it, the ball slipped off his fingers and slammed into
gutter. His profuse apologies embarrassed Amanda, and all she could
think of to
say was, "That's happened to me zillions of times. You'll get the hang
and Karen watched, smiling. The interaction of
their kids brought back sweet memories. They didn't know it, but their
temperature climbed a degree, as adrenaline seeped into their
haven't done this for years," said Karen.
like riding a bicycle," said Bob. "Want
me to help you pick out a ball?"
not completely helpless," she said, but
problem," said Bob, and unzipped the case he'd
brought with him, pulling his own ball out.
a ringer," said Karen. "You
brought us suckers here so you could fleece us."
use of the word "suckers" zipped into
Bob's brain and he was unable to avoid thinking of another situation in
woman might be called a "sucker." It was his turn to blush as he
reacted. His private embarrassment caused him to flirt, instead of
do you have I might be able to fleece you
out of?" he asked, arching one eyebrow.
flirted with Karen all the time at the auto parts
store. As the only female on staff, she got a lot of attention. But
none of it
was from men she was interested in. She tended to be intentionally un-interested in most men. She had
decided long ago that she didn't need a man in her life, that they were
trouble than they were worth.
time, though, she reacted differently to his
obvious innuendo. This man she had
positive feelings about. And it was harmless. They were on
a double date, but it was a date in name only. The kids
were right there. What could happen? She hadn't flirted in years. And
could be fun.
suh! If I didn't know better, I might think
you had unseemly intentions," she said, trying to affect a southern
was startled. This was the first time he'd seen
Karen be anything but sensible and serious. This was a very pleasant
go easy on you this first time," he
said. "I wouldn't want to be labeled a cad on our first date."
laughed. "Cad? Who uses that word these
teachers do," he said, grinning.
we going to bowl, or are you guys going to
flirt all night?" asked Amanda, who appeared, suddenly, beside them.
was with her, and was staring at his mother. He looked curious.
"We are going to bowl," said Bob, holding up
his ball. "Prepare to be destroyed!"
won, but he didn't destroy anybody. The only reason
he had his own ball was because a girl he'd dated in college had
insisted he get one. She was the better bowler, and was avid about the sport. She
turned out to be too avid. Bowling was all she ever wanted to do, and Bob had
eventually drifted away.
It is fair to say a good time was had by all. Jack and
Amanda got to chat, indeed getting to know each other better, and
finding that they did, in fact, like each other. Jack accused Amanda of being bossy,
to which she simply said, "Of course I am. I'm the boss."
Karen and Bob fared much the same way. What had begun
as a chore turned into something both of them had needed for years, but
hadn't known they needed. There was no romance, at this early stage of the
game, but simple companionship with a member of the opposite sex is something all
of us are driven to find, and they were no different.
A turning point in all of their lives came when Bob
dropped Karen and Jack off at their house. They all went up to the door
together, after Bob said, "It is polite to walk your date to the
there, Jack turned to the adults and asked,
"Do we get to kiss goodnight?"
don't think so," laughed Karen.
begged Amanda. "Just one
kiss? I've never kissed a boy. And this is my very first date."
kiss him?" asked Bob.
do," said his daughter. "It's my first date!"
that's the only reason you want to kiss him
... because it's your first date."
yeah," she said.
looked at Karen. "Can you believe it? It's
suddenly mandatory to kiss on the first date." She smiled.
can kiss my mom," suggested Jack,
this a bribe?" asked Karen. "You're
bartering me away?"
away," said Jack. "Just for one
kiss. Come on, Mom. It's not like we're going to ask them to stay over."
was shocked. "Where did you learn anything
about staying over?"
knows people do that," said Jack.
don't we all shake hands," suggested
Amanda, obviously embarrassed.
and Karen exchanged glances.
one kiss?" asked Bob.
wondered if he meant the kids ... or them. After
the night she'd just had, the idea of kissing him did not cause any
emotions in her at all, and that bothered her.
guess just one couldn't hurt," she said.
turned to the kids.
kiss. A simple, good night kiss," said
kids flowed together ... and then froze. Even if
they hadn't been assumed to be unfamiliar with osculation, it would
obvious to the casual observer that neither had the faintest idea of
what to do
next. Each tilted his or her head in different directions, moving
then away from the other. Each pursed his or her lips, but it was
semi-conscious. It was comical, and heart wrenching at the same time.
this," said Bob, calling their
attention to the adults.
turned and reached for Karen's waist, pulling her
gently toward him. Her hands went to his shoulders instinctively as his
came toward hers.
that casual observer, it was a fairly simple kiss.
His lips touched hers, and stayed pressed there for some three or four
He pulled his lips from hers slowly, as if he wished he didn't have to.
face stayed within six inches of hers as their eyes locked.
had a good time tonight," he said,
too," she breathed.
should do this again sometime," he said.
she breathed, wanting to pull his
face back to hers.
emotion in that kiss took both adults by surprise.
There are different kinds of kisses. This one might have been called
the casual "I like you a lot" kind of kiss. The dialogue they'd shared had been routine, automatic, the kind of things one
after a date.
both of them meant every word. And they were not
talking about chaperoning their children.
of will made both adults let go of each other
and turn to the kids.
like that," said Bob.
he hadn't been thinking about that kiss, Bob might
have thought it was comical when Jack turned to Amanda and put his
hands on her
waist, exactly as he had seen. Amanda mimicked what Karen had done too.
faces came together, but their lips were hard, and bounced off of each
separating almost instantly.
had a good time tonight," said Jack.
did too," said Amanda. "I'm glad I
asked you out."
too," said Jack. "Next time I'll
ask you out."
said Amanda. "Bye!"
turned and reached for her father's hand, which
was hanging so close to Karen's that she could feel the heat radiating
skin. She had found herself wanting to reach for his fingers, but had
Now, when his hand bumped against hers while Amanda grabbed it, she
heat more firmly.
she said, stepping backwards toward
her door. She could hear Jack unlocking it.
said Bob, their eyes locked. "I'll
have to fleece you next time."
heart thumped as her mind had an instantaneous
fantasy that "fleecing" somehow involved naked bodies on a sheepskin
rug, in front of a fire. She blinked and turned as she felt herself
hurried into the house after Jack. All she could
think about now was the vibrator in the drawer of the nightstand next
bed. She hadn't used it in a while.
was about to change.
was fun," said Amanda as Bob started
the car moving.
agree," said Bob.
could have been better, though," said
you guys were right there, all the time. We
didn't have any privacy at all."
how chaperoning works," he said,
humans like to think we're in control of our
destinies. We have a track record of trying to beat nature, as she
supervises creation. One example is the use of artificial light to
"day". At first it was fire, in its various forms. Then the electric
was invented and dark was pushed ever farther into the night. In some
there is no dark any longer. Another example is the development of our
food sources. The Haber-Bosch
producing ammonia was developed in the first half of the twentieth
century, to produce explosives for the German war machine. After the
war it was
developed into a fertilizer that is the only reason the majority of the
population of Earth is alive today. Without it, we could not wrench
enough food to feed us all.
history is a litany of examples of pushing back against nature,
trying to bend her to our will. In our arrogance, we think we are in
are, however, constant reminders that, in reality, we are but fleas on
of a big dog. Hurricanes and earthquakes ravage our "indestructible"
buildings. Heat waves kill those who have no conditioned air in which
to hide. The
ocean swallows ships whole. When another ice age happens - and it will
cities will vanish under the irresistible crush of simple flakes of
our vaunted transportation industry fail, for whatever reason, then
Haber-Bosch process won't save the billions that will then die, and
sober reflection is not intended to ruin the story. Rather it is
simply a reminder that Nature has been here a hell of a lot longer than
humanity has, and she is like the sun. She is always there, and there
actually very little we can do about her. This little diatribe is
way to get to a last example of how humans think they can foil Nature's
intentions. That example is the concept of chaperoning young humans so
don't engage in procreative activities.
good theory, chaperoning is, but that doesn't mean it will work,
or that Mother Nature's drive to encourage reproduction within the
some cases, even substantially delayed.
second date for Amanda and Jack, which of course
means the second date for Bob and Karen as well, took place at
Golf World," in a town with the unlikely name of Versailles. It was
after the town in France, but there the similarity ended. Rather than
pronounced "Ver-sigh," its inhabitants called it
"Vur-sales." That probably happened for the same reason people who
showed up at Ellis Island in the 1800s with the last name
"Mitschkelheit" ended up with citizenship papers listing their last
name as "Mitchell." Rather than hearing their name being massacred,
they accepted something easier for the natives to say.
Golf World was a miniature golf course with
twenty-seven zany ways to make you use eight strokes to put the ball in
cup. Arthur Parsons, when he started the project in 1955, intended
there to be
thirty-six holes, but he ran out of steam in 1978 and sold some of his
to a developer. The business had waxed and waned since then, falling
disuse and disrepair, only to be revived by someone who had both money
nostalgia. It was currently a popular destination for families and
like Jack and Amanda, who wanted to engage in mating rituals. Whether
that's what they were doing, or not.
seemed an entirely "safe" kind of place to
Bob and Karen. There were lots of people there, including little kids
everywhere, chasing each other and shouting. It was brightly lit and
obstacles at each hole were either entertaining or just fun to look at.
because it seemed so regulated, when the young couple asked if they
"have some private time" away from their parents, meaning that there
was a group of players between the kids and the parents, that seemed
reasonable request to grant.
thing is, that gave the adults some "private
time" together too. And that meant that they got to know each other a
little better under conditions that were, relatively speaking, much
intimate than if they'd been concentrating on their offspring.
had never had a golf club in her hands in her
life. The first hole was an easy one. From the tee, the putter was
hit the ball fifteen feet to an angled board, that led to another
which led to a third angled board, where the ball was, in theory,
bounce toward the hole. The kids had gone first and Karen had watched
hit the ball too softly, barely making it to the first board. Jack had
ball harder, and done better. After
letting a foursome go between them, it was then Karen's turn to give it
didn't want to end up like Amanda had, stuck in
the U shaped obstacle. Her swing would have made Arnold Palmer proud.
ended up two holes away.
apologies had been made, and her ball retrieved,
Bob stood behind her and put his arms around her, his hands on hers, to
show her how to regulate her swing. Basically, he hugged her. His front
pressed firmly to her back, and his arms enfolded her. His chin was on
shoulder. They were almost cheek to cheek.
felt good. And it felt good to both of them.
of what was going on, here, was unconscious. The
hug was intentional, of course, but the duration, and the way his body
against hers, was not. Neither was the way in which her body pressed
body temperature raised that degree again. Blood
flow changed. Hormones were released. Emotions surged.
that," said Bob, helping her swing.
Okay," she said. "Yes, that's much
was a little thing, in the great scheme of things. But,
like a pebble that rolls from the top of a mountain, which has the
start a landslide, it had larger consequences than either of them then
realized. That little thing had far reaching effects.
was that, while it was happening, Karen didn't
think of it as "inappropriate touching" at all. She understood he was
only trying to help her. After it was over, her subconscious mind
the fact that, while she barely knew this man, his touch was not only
acceptable ... but welcome. For Bob, his thought processes were much
conscious. His intent was to simply help her learn how to stroke the
having her in his arms turned into something else almost instantly.
was that their children saw it happen. They'd
been completely absorbed in each other since getting away from their
car ride to Versailles had been interesting, in that they got to sit
less side by side in the back seat. But they couldn't talk privately
with their parents sitting right in front of them, even though their
had seemed to be absorbed in each other, talking to each other
game was okay, even fun, but chatting with each other was the main
the night. They'd heard the uproar when Karen's ball had zinged past
startled golfers, but hadn't known what caused it. At that precise
they'd been tentatively talking about the good night kiss after their
date. Jack had asked Amanda what she thought of it. In her literal way
said how little it had been like what she hoped it would be. He'd been
stung. But then she'd gone on to analyze the ways in which she thought
they had done was different from what their parents had done. That
had delayed them from seeing Bob retrieve Karen's ball.
Jack heard his mother's voice saying, "I'm
so sorry!" he had looked around to see what the fuss was about, and
had looked with him. What they saw was Amanda's father standing behind
mother, with his arms around her, helping her putt. It looked like a
intimate embrace to the two callow youths. To them, it appeared to mean
Bob "liked" Karen, in the sense that young people use that word these
think your dad likes my mom," said Jack,
putting what they were both thinking into words.
she said, her voice sounding
peculiar. Jack picked up on that sound in her voice.
turned to look at him.
Why not? I like you. Why shouldn't he like
her it was that simple. The fact that she felt
funny when seeing her father hugging Jack's mother didn't bother
her. It was just ... interesting. It was a new way of seeing
said Jack. "Yeah." His heart
was thumping. "You like me?"
course I like you. I'm out on a date with
you, aren't I?"
he said. "Sorry. I guess I'm a
don't know," he said, flushing. "I
guess I'm glad you like me. I was worried you might not."
I do," said Amanda.
does that make me feel so funny?" he
dad explained that to me," she said,
thinking literally. "It has to do with hormones."
studied that in health class," he said.
nothing to worry about," she said. "All
it means is that we want to procreate."
He was obviously shaken by her
straightforwardness. She saw that.
mean it's natural. I don't want to procreate or
anything. But it's
natural to feel that way. It's why he's not happy about me starting to
why he insisted that they chaperone us. He's worried that I will
want to procreate if I get alone
with a boy."
Yeah. My mom is the same way," he said.
are so stupid sometimes," said
don't think my mom is stupid," said Jack.
don't mean all the time," she said. "Just
sometimes. Like when they worry that you and I will want to have sex.
want to have sex, do you?"
he said, quickly. It was a lie. He
wanted desperately to have sex. He just had no idea of how to go about
right now, anyway," he added.
mean I know I'll have sex some day," she said. "But
not until I'm ready."
came the voice of a man in the group behind
them. "Are you going to play golf or talk all night?"
said Jack, being polite like he'd
been taught to be.
tried to hurry. In the end they just picked up
their balls and went to the next hole, to get away from the people
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